By Fidel Ozugha.
Many people have said many things about late Diego Maradona, an Argentine football icon who died Wednesday, November 25, 2020. There is no doubt that Maradona was a phenomenon. He represented many things to many people. The nationguardnews.com cornered Dr. Dennis C. Amobi, President and Chief Executive Officer of Asollo Universal Automobile Ltd – a football lover, enthusiast who has watched him and others play in FIFA organised tournaments. Dr. Amobi is the owner of Asollo Universal Football Club, Lagos. As a pillar of sports, he sponsors football competition every year in his town, Abagana – headquarters of Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State. He disclosed a lot of information hidden from the public about Maradona whom he had much respect for due to his exploits in the game.
To him, late Diego Maradona was a hero while in the pitch of football. Maradona played for Argentine’s Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevila, and Newells Old Boys during his club career, and was famous for his time at Naple in Italy, and in Barcelona where he won many accolades. Maradona earned 91 caps and scored 34 goals. Dr. Amobi watched him live in 1982 during the Junior World Cup tournament in Spain. Watching him play in US 1994 World Cup ”where he displayed high quality attributes of not just a star but a super star. Argentine played against Nigeria in Boston Massachette, and beat Nigeria two goals against one.
”Maradona was a hero in the football pitch but somebody else outside the pitch. He was fantastic, had speed, full of good football control while on motion, entertained the spectators and remained goal bent. He was a crowd puller and thus was worshipped in both Argentina and Italy due his superlative performance in Naples such that Napoli Football Club might rename their stadium after Diego Maradona. He led Napoli FC to the 1989 UEFA Cup title during his seven-season stay. He helped Napoli win several trophies. Napoli won their sole league titles in 1989, 1990. In short, Napoli made Maradona and Napoli marred Maradona because he allegedly became a regular cocaine addict in the city – a dependence that eventually led to his downfall from soccer.
”He was very popular in Naples, the city of Napoli FC such that he was given the key of the city. Maradona was made a folk hero in the city.There was a Maradona cafe’ in Italy because of what he was, an idol, to the citizens, and it sold like a hot cake. There was song: ”Maradona in our hearts, Italy in our songs,” among the people. He had a church in Argentina where he was worshipped. While in Italy, the Italia mafia struct a deal with him, and it was for him to be less than himself, to soft pedal in case if Argentina had to play against Italy. It was a deal due to betting involved in the game of football. On getting to Argentina in preparation for the tournament, he was welcomed at the airport by the President of his country. Such a red carpet reception overwhelmed him such that he gave Argentina his victory when they met Italy. And the mafias were ready for him when he would be back to Naples, but he refused to return to Napoli FC in Italy due the dangers ahead.
”He was ready and willing to forfeit the money owned him by the Club management. Then the mafians went after his football career and both UEFA and FIFA were ready to ban him for life in football tournaments. Twice he cancelled his flight to Italy. Later he accepted to go back to Italy only on the condition that he would stay in a five-star hotel with two security given to him. It was accepted, and he later went back. However, hard drugs were discovered in his hotel room. And from there his problem started. It remains a mystery on how he became a drug addict.
COMPARING HIM WITH PLAYERS LIKE PELE, RONALDO, MESSI, ETC.
”Maradona was one of the greatest players after Pele. He had force more than Lionel Messi. Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane could have compared with him but they did not lead their countries to World Cup victories. They shine only at club levels. Maradona went beyond that. So was Pele. Jay Jay Okocha would have stood up to his value in football but he was not well and enough marketed, or rather he was poorly marketed. Poor publicity killed this dazzling star. His dribbles, his passes were as entertaining and near accurate as those of Maradona. Jay Jay played mostly not to score goals but purposely to entertain his fans. Maradona would combine both and achieve them. George Weah, now President of his country, Liberia, tried but did not belong to Maradona rating likewise Kanu Nwankwo. He started his football career in Cameroun and from there went to France due to the war then in his country.”
ON PERFORMANCE OF NIGERIA’S SUPER EAGLES IN THEIR LAST TWO MATCHES AGAINST SIERRA LEON.
The coaching crew and the players were to be blamed. I indict both. They lacked tactics and technics. No reading or interpreting of the matches. We still lead in the group though, but better if we had won our games. Poor performance need to be worked against in future games. As usual, December football tournaments will be held in Abagana this Christmas season and festival.