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Marvellous Maradona's gift was also a curse


The mercurial, troubled soccer superstar has died, aged 60. Spiro Karanikos-Mimis remembers his flawed brilliance.

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In an alternate reality, Diego Armando Maradona has a cushy FIFA job.

He attends dinners and wines and dines with some of the worlds biggest dignitaries.

He travels the globe as an ambassador for the world game – a game he dominated with such ease.

But that all seemed too simple for one of the greatest of our game.

From a distance, it seemed like Maradona’s gift was also his curse. The very thing that made him who he was, was also his undoing.

My fondest memory of Maradona is not what you’re probably expecting to read.

It was about 2:30am on Monday, 27 June 1994. As a 10-and-a-half year old, I settled into my living room with my step-father to watch Greece play Argentina at the 1994 World Cup in the USA.

It was the first game for both nations with the match being played in Chicago.

We were hopeful that Greece may do something decent in that World Cup. Greece had been a revelation in the qualification stage.

And whilst everyone knew Argentina would be tough the Greeks were expected to account for Bulgaria and Nigeria and get through to the next round.

Of course, Argentina had qualified for the World Cup by dispatching the Socceroos in late 1993.

La Albiceleste had qualified the hard way through CONMEBOL and people had wondered if they would also struggle in the USA.

Argentina tore Greece apart that morning and Maradona scored their third goal.

I remember him running towards and then screaming down the camera to an adoring global audience. It is seared into my memory.

A few days later, he would test positive for five variants of ephedrine and that would be the end of his tournament.

Since then we’ve watched him ebb and flow through life. Sometimes he seemed in control of his vices and other times, it was plainly obvious they had gotten the better of him.

At times, his life seemed like a car crash and as macabre as it was, you just couldn’t stop watching.

He tried his hand at coaching but never really excelled.

And so we woke up to the news this morning that he has died. At 60, Maradona leaves us, having made an indelible mark on our game.

You will struggle to find many people who don’t know him.

His legacy will always be what he did on the ground.

Vale to this flawed legend. May he finally find peace.

And another thing…

Adelaide United has announced the signing of Socceroo striker Tomi Juric.

Juric, who recently left Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia, will be returning to the Reds to lead the line.

With former Espanyol captain Javi López also locked in, Adelaide’s squad is shaping up very well.

Are the Reds now title favourites?

Spiro Karanikos-Mimis is InDaily’s soccer columnist.

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