‘They Only Made Us Happy’: Argentines pay tribute to Diego Maradona in Latin America


Buenos Aires, Argentina Wilson Cisnero, who chanted bizarre chants to bid farewell to the soon-to-be-departed football veteran, leaned against a brightly colored brick building that had a simple, small sign on it, which he pasted Was. “God is with God,” he wrote, punctured with number 10.

The 25-year-old cycled two kilometers (1.2 mi) of La Boca’s famous Buenos Aires because, like many others, he did not know where else to go that Diego Maradona died Was.

The crowd gathered outside La Bomonera, home of Boca Juniors, one of Argentina’s best-known football clubs, which once counted Maradona as its star.

“Argentina is Maradona,” Cisnero said, his devastation evident through his filthy gaze. “You see this insult with coronovirus and now this other insult,” he lamented. “Now football is left without its god.”

Wilson Ciccino stands in front of a sign saying ‘God is with God’ in memory of Diego Maradona in Argentina [Natalie Alcoba/Al Jazeera]

The same pain was written on the faces of Argentina on Wednesday, as the country was devastated by his unexpected death. For the world, he was Maradona. For Argentina, he was “El Diego” – a kid who sprang from the slums, dazzled like no other on the pitch, dominated the game and delivered World Cup glory yet to be repeated in Argentina.

Maradona suffered a cardiac arrest at his home north of the capital of Buenos Aires on Wednesday. He recently underwent brain surgery, which raised concerns over his health. He was 60 years old.

“It’s something you can’t describe,” said Rafael Bellido, 49, sitting on the stairs of La Bombonera next to his partner Marcella Renoso, as they shared a traditional Argentine infusion. “El Diego was the person who represented us the best,” he said. “When he was playing, and you were watching, and you wanted to curse, he would curse. He made us reflect. Apart from all the things he did on the pitch.”

He said, “Now is the time when Argentine society needs to give back all the pleasure it has given us.” “And how long did he make us happy. A long time. Every time he touched the pitch. You can not describe it. “

Marcella Renoso and Rafael Bellido mourn Diego Maradona in Argentina [Natalie Alcoba/Al Jazeera]

As tributes from around the world were paid, President Alberto Fernandez announced three days of national mourning, canceling all his actions as the government prepared to host a host at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The government is expecting one lakh people to pay their last respects. Government buildings will be lit in the colors of the Argentine flag in his honor.

In a statement, Fernandez said it was Argentina’s good fortune to be able to live through Maradona’s era, see his greatness and enjoy his affection.

“I doubt we’ll ever see another player like Maradona in every way, not only because of his technical qualities, but also because of the courage, that strength, the patience that he showed each time he put on the jersey. . Defense. An exceptional player who only gave us joy, “he said.

“Maradona was a true man, defending what he believed in,” the president said. He said, “She is a good example of ordinary Argentine, so she is visceral. Above all, I always insisted that she was never a fraud – she said what she didn’t like.

By the middle of the afternoon, hundreds of people had gathered at the Buenos Aires obelisk, singing her praises of Maradona as a huge banner waved her face in the air. Outside La Bombonera, the crowd intermittently performed songs and dances.

“Diego is not dead, Diego is not dead, Diego lives in the village,” the crowd would chant. Everyone had their own story, their reason for being and what they meant to them. His incredible heights and the lows he won were also his.

“There will always be critics,” said Renoso. “The important thing is that he found his happiness.”

Diego Kovalo makes a mark in memory of Diego Maradona in Argentina [Natalie Alcoba/Al Jazeera]

Diego Kowlo, who counted himself as a member of the Maradona Church founded by fans in 1988, pasted a poster of Maradona in his Boca Juniors jersey on the exterior of the stadium. He and some friends were on alert outside the clinic during the football veteran’s recent hospitalization.

“If we were there during the good times, then certainly we are there during the bad times,” said 35-year-old Kovalo.

24-year-old Jose Mustafa saw children playing football en route to La Boca and thought to himself: “” This is Maradona’s legacy.

He is going to be with everyone – young people, and people who are older. “

Blanca Salarsi, standing under a huge mural of El Diego in La Boca, remembers seeing him play as a youngster in one of the shanty towns of Buenos Aires.

“I also came from slums, you come from the bottom up,” the 60-year-old said. And when she turned to leave, with a twinkle in her tearful eyes she said: “Never forget that he was the best.”

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