First Diego Armando Maradona catches your eye. Then he captures your imagination. When watching him aged 18 leading the Argentine Under 20 side to glory you get the feeling it was always preordained. It was always about El Pibe de Oro, the Golden Boy, winning his first major trophy. His teammates, albeit talented, look a mere supporting cast. Ignorance renders the eleven Soviet opponents in the final into nameless adversaries to be overcome – like villains in many an action movie of the time.
But it is the leading man’s name on the marquee that ensures you buy a ticket to watch the picture. Diving into football history it is Maradona’s name that makes you pull up a nearly four decades old youth match. And then you are left marvelling at what you see because it is all still on display today: Maradona’s athleticism, vision, passing, balance, control, oh that control, and most importantly the promise of more. The World Youth Championship 1979 was only to be the beginning.
Maradona & Menotti
In Japan Maradona may have announced himself to the world. But by 1979 he was already a bonafide star in his native Argentina. Learning to play on the streets of Buenos Aires and in the youth system of local side Argentinos Juniors Maradona quickly rose through the ranks. As a pre-teen he had caught the public’s attention at Argentinos matches performing ball tricks during the half time break. Before turning 16 he debuted for the senior side. After eleven appearances he earned his first Albiceleste cap. Leading 4:0 against Hungary the Buenos Aires crowd urged their national team manager to bring on the pibe. Cesar Luis Menotti obliged. Continue reading