Forget F1, forget the Champions League T20… Kannur was in a world of their own this week cause Argentina’s eternal jersey #10 was in town. I love Diego Armando Maradona, worshipped him as a kid. I still remember Italia’90 when Maradona lost to the Germans in the final. The emotion and the beauty of the game. That was a classic era of football where a certain aura followed the stars. You had Jurgen Klinsmann, Rudi Voeller, Gary Linekar, a young Roberto Baggio… I will never forget those names, thanks to late nights when I managed to sneak a peak at Doordarshan’s broadcasts and thanks to a lenient Dad who came to my rescue and ensured that I had my share of screen time. And who can forget Paul Gascoigne’s antics… rather heroics at that point of time in his career!
And remembering those names… the credit for that goes to the bubble gum manufacturers who used to give a free card with every piece of gum. Each card contained goal/field statistics of the footballer featured, so we knew them all. Those were the days when Pokemon or any other Japanese anime faced absolutely no chance against these numbers and facts. I remember rushing to the run down stationery shop near our school and buying those piecces of gum and then trying to force the shopkeeper to give us the card we needed for our collection.
Getting back to Maradona, he was the reason I was drawn to football, played the game and then became a junior professional. It was fun imagining being a part of a dream team and imagine playing with and against the best in the world whenever I hit the field. Seeing him on Indian soil does bring a smile to the face. Childhood adoration replaced by a respect for the craft and work of the finest. And there he was in Kannur with a bunch of mundu clad men cutting a birthday cake and then going on a promotional safari. It’s God’s own country and if not the whole, at least the ‘hand of God‘ was there. Viva Maradona!