Remember Maradona, Latin American Patron Saint of the Pitch: The Picture Show: NPR

Remember Maradona, Latin American Patron Saint of the Pitch: The Picture Show: NPR

Diego Maradona celebrates Argentina’s World Cup victory in 1986 at the Aztec Stadium in Mexico City.

John Wing


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John Wing

Diego Maradona celebrates Argentina’s World Cup victory in 1986 at the Aztec Stadium in Mexico City.

John Wing

I first met Diego Armando Maradona in September 1993, while watching the qualifier between Argentina and my country Colombia for the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

Although I was a small child at the time, I knew that Argentina star Maradona was something special. His vision, the way he transcended his enemies – he was respected and admired not only in his country but also in Latin America and around the world.

Maradona, who rose from the slums of Buenos Aires to lead Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup, died on Wednesday at the age of 60, according to media reports. He is said to have suffered a heart attack at his home in the suburbs of Buenos Aires.

As soon as I learned of the news of his death, I asked a few Latinos in the NPR to share their memories of Maradona. For us, in our region, we take football as seriously as religion – as such, we all had to experience Maradona in our own way from our countries.

Tribute from NPR staff here. These have been edited for length and clarity.

Maradona in San Salvador in El Salvador in 2006.

Lisette Lemus


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Lisette Lemus

Maradona in San Salvador in El Salvador in 2006.

Lisette Lemus

Maradona first played at his local football ground, in 1983 in Argentina.

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Maradona first played at his local football ground, in 1983 in Argentina.

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Mutona, age 16, in Buenos Aires. He was born on October 30, 1960, in Villa Fiorido, one of the poorest suburbs of Buenos Aires.

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Mutona, age 16, in Buenos Aires. He was born on October 30, 1960, in Villa Fiorido, one of the poorest suburbs of Buenos Aires.

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Shows a score from Maradona in a match in 1981.

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Shows a score from Maradona in a match in 1981.

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Pope Francis met Maradona in Rome in 2014.

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Pope Francis met Maradona in Rome in 2014.

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‘Santa Maradona’

I am a U.S. citizen. In fact, the first episode of Alt.Latino 10 years ago was a collection of songs about football from Latin America and around the world.

But both of his eyes shone with excitement, and reflected more than a kind of nostalgia was Mano Negra’s “Santa Maradona”, the forerunner of Rock n Espanol. This post includes Sonic’s excitement that he can be heard living near a football field in Buenos Aires every weekend. Playing this again and again to remember Maradona is good to see playing again and again on YouTube. – Felix Contreras, co-creator and host Alt.Latino

Black hand – Santa Maradona

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Maradona is the head coach of Kimnasia y Esgrima La Plata before a match in 2019 in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

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Maradona is the head coach of Kimnasia y Esgrima La Plata before a match in 2019 in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

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‘A Latin Ambassador for Sports’

I love passing the Diego Maradona mural outside the Napoli pasta bar in Washington, DC. I always get good vibes from it and love to see a Latin scene on a mural in the country capital. In one of his final years he coached second division football in Sinaloa, Mexico, and led them to promotion. He really cared about the game and was the Latin ambassador of the game. – Gustavo Contreras, assistant producer, all things considered

Maradona is centered on three English defenders during the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals in Mexico City.

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Maradona is centered on three English defenders during the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals in Mexico City.

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Candles are placed outside the San Paulo Stadium in Naples, Italy, next to a picture of Maradona.

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Candles are placed outside the San Paulo Stadium in Naples, Italy, next to a picture of Maradona.

Alessandra Tarantino / A.P.

‘When Argentina won … we all parted very hard’

As a Mexican-Colombian kid growing up in surfer-centric southern California, Maradona was the biggest to beat West Germany in Mexico City. I have never met my South American family and I have always known that I am different from my most Mexican extended family, but when Argentina won, it didn’t matter, we all parted very hard. The hand of God against the British is something that every colonial nation dreams of. – Nadia Grenier, Transport Coordinator

Maradona hits England goalkeeper Peter Shildon with his ‘Hand of God’ goal as England defenders watch the 1986 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals in Mexico City.

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Maradona hits England goalkeeper Peter Shildon with his ‘Hand of God’ goal as England defenders watch the 1986 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals in Mexico City.

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Argentina’s jersey and black ribbon hang on a balcony when news of Maradona’s death arrives in Buenos Aires.

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Argentina’s jersey and black ribbon hang on a balcony when news of Maradona’s death arrives in Buenos Aires.

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Diego Maradona celebrating Argentina’s victory in the 1986 World Cup at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

John Wing


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Diego Maradona celebrating Argentina’s victory in the 1986 World Cup at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

John Wing

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About the Author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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