Flaws that killed the football genius

Last Updated 29 January 2021, 20:01 IST

Diego Maradona: the very name evokes emotions.

He is a genius who thrilled the world with his out worldly ball skills on a carpet of green. A flawed character, the legendary footballer was asked to carry the hopes of his people. Hailing from humble backgrounds, Maradona struggled to come to terms with fame and fortune and descended into substance abuse and addiction.

‘What Killed Maradona’, a documentary of Discovery Plus, takes us through the well trudged path of the Argentine’s life, a story told and retold. But here, the main focus falls on his addictions and how it finally caught up to one of football’s all-time greats who passed away in November last at 60.

The documentary touches on his long-standing relationship with pain killers, a routine in the gifted striker’s life to make sure he was playing. Maradona played at a time where the game was more brutal, tackles more cynical, and pitches less pristine.

Then there is his near quarter of a century addiction to cocaine, not to mention alcohol. When he finally passed away, it came after multiple heart attacks and stints in rehab. While it features interviews with his trainer Fernando Signorini, former agent Jon Smith and others from Maradona’s life, there is little spoken about his footballing career.

The documentary feels repetitive, stubbornly driving home the point of how substance abuse can damage one’s health.

While Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo evokes a sense of awe, an acceptance of them as ‘from a different planet’ for their ability, Maradona is seen as an everyman who scaled the heights to reach stardom.

One takeaway from the documentary is that had Maradona played in the current generation, his fate would have been different. However, the legend of Maradona may never have been what it is. In the regimented and airbrushed era, a flawed genius such as him would not have stood out.

Asif Kapadia’s ‘Diego Maradona’ (2019) is a superior product compared to this. But this documentary does justice to its title.

(Published 29 January 2021, 20:01 IST)

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