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They cheered when he scored, bawled when he was fouled and cried when he wept.
Kerala is a unique and distinct space in Indian map. Not only in the social and development indicators but also in the sports and entertainment Kerala is on a sour note with the rest of the country. When most of the Indians howl on sixes, fours and wickets, Kerala is eager to watch the net shaking. The true spirit of internationalism and sports could be experienced in Kerala during a FIFA world cup. The banners, flags and humongous cut-outs of the celebrity players from all the 32 teams could be seen in the State and among that there are two teams that rule the roost, Brazil and Argentina.
Obviously, Brazil is a country which is made for football. They have a legacy in soccer games which other countries could only dream of. Brazil is like a magic pot which could churn out legendary players and trophies whenever they required. Five World Cups, players like Pele, Socrates, Garrincha, Silva, Zico, Vava, Romario, Ronaldinho etc.. the list is inexhaustible. But for Argentina, there is not much to claim for a legacy. Just two World Cups and the first one draws much criticism and controversies of match-fixing. The list of legendary players is surely not long and luxurious as that of Brazil. Then what is the reason for such a huge and dedicated fanbase for the Albicelestes? Beyond any shadow of doubt, aficionados base of Argentina is the largest in Kerala for any football-playing country in the globe, including that of Brazil and it’s own India. There is only one reason for such an enviable entourage for Argentina and that reason made his final dribble with death two days ago and suffered a fatal tackle.
Argentina failed to secure a World title since 1986 but that did not dwindle the support base for the team.
Diego Armando Maradona is undeniably the greatest player of all time. The first live FIFA WorldCup for a Malayalee through television was that of the 1986s, and in that tournament they witnessed something unprecedented. A man with a short, stock and a weird combo of fat and muscular torso juggled in their tv screens. Maradona was dishevelled and awkward at first glance. Jogging onto the pitch in a shirt bearing the number 10, he swayed on an entire half of the football field making it hard to pinpoint his position. Then there was that game. Exactly 12,568 days ago on a sunny day, the sunlight gushed through the white clouds like the god himself was taking a look. Indians always had this unexplainable disdain towards their ex-colonial masters. Hence, the fans in the match of Argentina vs England was largely skewed in favour of the former. In that game like a prewritten and well versed script, Diego Armando Maradona casted his magic spell upon the world which was watching. First through an ever-controversial handmade goal with the rhetorical hand of god and then after 10 minutes an electrifying and godly goal, an absolute stunner which made the commentator weep. The world, especially the Keralites were never able to escape from that encorsell. Since then Malayalees followed Maradona like kids trailing the Piper. They cheered when he scored, bawled when he was fouled and cried when he wept. Argentina failed to secure a World title since 1986 but that did not dwindle the support base for the team. It soared year after year due to the Diego domino effect. It was passed on to the coming generations like a true legacy. Even one of the major reasons for the humongous follower base for Messi is that he adorns the Blue and White jersey with number 10 on his back.
If you ask a Keralite whether he believes in god?, the answer will be ‘Yes. I have seen him playing football’.
Legends are there in football, from Andre Pirlo to Zinadin Zidane but there is only one god. Who have scored and mesmerized with his legs, head and a hand.