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This blog reflects on soccer qua football all over the world. The blog has a specific investment in attractive, attacking football and, as such, focuses on Brazil, the most emphatic historical exponent of the beautiful game.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Maradona: "Tell Fidel that I Love Him"

"Meeting him was like touching the sky with my hands. What he has done for me is indescribable. Along with God, he is the reason I am alive."

--Diego Maradona on Fidel Castro

Any reflection on entertaining football would be incomplete without a mention of Diego Maradona, the greatest footballer of all time. Maradona captained the Argentine team to World Cup glory in 1986, where he scored the greatest world cup goal of all time in the quarterfinal match against England by dribbling past six English players before beating goalkeeper Peter Shilton. More recently, Maradona coached the Argentine team at the 2010 World Cup and provided the world proof of his inspirational comeback from cocaine addiction and alcoholism.

Less well known is the story of Maradona's friendship with Fidel Castro and the latter's influence on inspiring the Argentine's rehabilitation from drug addiction. Maradona spent months in rehabilitation in Cuba in 2000 at the invitation of Castro, a dedicated Maradona fan. Just recently, barely two weeks after the South Africa 2010 World Cup, Maradona sent a message of love to Fidel Castro and promised to travel to Cuba sometime in August. "Tell Fidel that I love him," Maradona said, according to Cubadebate.cu, the state-run Cuban media site. In a meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Maradona noted that Fidel was "very much alive," and "very lucid, very well, contrary to what the Americans want, which is to see him dead." The great Argentine striker wears a tattoo of Fidel Castro on his left leg alongside a tattoo of Che Guevera, the Argentine Marxist revolutionary, on his right arm. Largely out of the spotlight since he was fired as coach of the Argentine national team, Maradona has recently been spending time with Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in order to obtain advice about the future of his career.

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