How Maradona the megastar consumed Diego the person

I highly recommend the recently-released documentary that charts Maradona’s career and his descent from the dizzy heights of fame and glory. The film has been directed by Asif Kapadia, who made a similarly magnificent documentary biopic about Ayrton Senna a few years ago. It’s a wonderfully-paced film, not voiced over by a narrator but rather through personal accounts – including Maradona himself, who adds some candid and surprising confessions. Then there is the magical footage of the player in action out on the pitch which remind us of the priceless beauty of his game as well as non-football-related images - some intimate and touching, others more sordid such as his relationship with Carmine Giuliano and the Camorra clan in Naples.

Unbiased portrait of Maradona

There are accounts from those who loved and understood him, recalling his spectacular downfall and Maradona by his own admission pinpointing when he started to lose touch with reality. His sister, his wife, his personal trainer Signorini, a journalist who he could confide in Daniel Arcucci... Maradona himself casually describes how his lifestyle in Naples became ravaged by disruptive outside influences – of how from the Sunday after a game, (stopping off briefly at home to greet his two baby kids), until Wednesday turned into a three days of loafing around and adminstering his growing addictions. From Thursday onward, he would straighten up, get back on track and prepare for the next game - in which he would invariably play well.

Split personality

Back in the day [César Luis] Menotti likened Maradona to a cat who had climbed up a tree but didn’t know how to get back down. Signorini offers another good characterization – there was Diego, the charming kid, and then Maradona the superstar – a personality every increasingly removed from the real world. The two characters alternated but over time, Maradona consumed Diego – just like Mister Hyde did to Doctor Jekyll. It’s all there in the film, a fascinating portrait of a life which started happy and ended in painful torment; as his sister notes, “The cocaine twisted his arm…” All of the answers to every question about Maradona are included. It’s a great work of art and an insightful, engaging piece of journalism.