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May 16, 2010 8:40 AM   Subscribe

On September 24 1983, a brilliant young Argentinian footballer playing for FC Barcelona was brutally fouled in a Spanish league game against Athletic Bilbao. The resulting injury incapacitated Diego Armando Maradona for four months and ultimately resulted in him leaving Barcelona for Naples and a serious cocaine addiction. More than the fouling player (who already had the nickname "Butcher of Bilbao"), many blamed Bilbao's coach and his somewhat lacking concept of "fair play".

Today, almost thirty years later, another brilliant young Argentinian footballer will be playing for FC Barcelona in a Spanish league game with the highest possible stakes: if FC Barcelona wins, they'll ensure this year's championship. If it doesn't, their worst enemy, Real Madrid, will almost certainly carry the trophy. Opposite FC Barcelona will be playing a much smaller team, Real Valladolid. The stakes for Valladolid are perhaps even higher: if they lose they face relegation to the second tier league. If they win or tie, salvation.
And who's coaching Valladolid? The man many in Barcelona still blame for the loss of Maradona, Bilbao's former coach Javier Clemente.

(Disclaimer: I'm a long-suffering Valladolid fan. But even I am somewhat worried about Leo Messi's health tonight...)
posted by Skeptic (46 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I weep hot tears of sympathy for Maradona. That such a man, in the prime of his career, should be cut down in so cruel a fashion! O Tempora! O Mores!
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 8:43 AM on May 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


At last I get it: after the injury Maradona's legs would hurt in matches so he had to use his hand to score goals?

But I'm not bitter. Much. At all. Not even a weeny bit.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:53 AM on May 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


he had to use his hand to score goals

No truer statement than that right there.

Disclaimer: Card carrying Madridista
posted by jsavimbi at 9:01 AM on May 16, 2010


ultimately resulted in him leaving Barcelona for Naples

well, good for us I guess?
posted by darkripper at 9:28 AM on May 16, 2010


Ah, the Hand of God, I remember it well and figured it would come up. Well at least that other famous basketball player Thierry Henry is now playing for Barca.

I've always had a soft spot for Barcelona, but am torn this year. I have found myself checking for Real's results, wishing them to win. How did this come about, that I would be cheering on the Fascist Royalist Bastards? Thank Rafa Benitez for selling them the best midfielder Liverpool have had in a generation, (yes, Mr Gerrard, that was a pointed remark) The Pass Master, Xabi Alonso.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 9:31 AM on May 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Never really cared for Maradona, but yikes, that was a nasty foul. I generally like watching Barcelona, but their simulation (faking fouls) has not endeared them to me this year.
posted by idb at 9:39 AM on May 16, 2010


I can't decide which headline I like better, "Hand of Frog" or "Hand of Gaul".
posted by josher71 at 9:41 AM on May 16, 2010


Messi is a lefty right? (Because if he isn't, some of those shots would become not just beautiful but simply otherworldly.)

Second, every time he made one of those pretty little touch passes to a teammate 15 feet from the goal. I kept thinking "can you imagine what it would be like to receive one of those passes and miss?" I would walk off the pitch, go home and set myself on fire out of shame.

Finally, Argentina is who I root for when the US gets knocked out of the World Cup. Go Albiceleste! I can't wait for the deluge of World Cup posts on Mefi this summer.
posted by oddman at 9:43 AM on May 16, 2010


I guess you guys don't watch much hockey
posted by Gungho at 9:45 AM on May 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


I've always had a soft spot for Barcelona, but am torn this year. I have found myself checking for Real's results, wishing them to win.

According to the laws of the Universe, that's impossible. It would be akin to a Red Sox fan suddenly buying, and wearing, a Yankees jersey. My advice is to stop experimenting with mushrooms and seek guidance. Long-term guidance.
posted by jsavimbi at 9:55 AM on May 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Gungho Well, we still have the Belgian football (soccer) league. (WARNING: Very, very painful. Even to watch.)
posted by Skeptic at 9:55 AM on May 16, 2010


Timely post, as the game is just starting for me on ESPN2 here on the West Coast. Didn't know there was all the added excitement of a championship on the line here. Thanks Skeptic, this will make the game that much more exciting. Now to make some breakfast and watch some football! What a good Sunday morning.
posted by friendlyjuan at 9:59 AM on May 16, 2010


The Barca match just started on ESPN2 if you are in the US.
posted by L'OM at 10:01 AM on May 16, 2010


^
Thank you both, I'd misread the start time and thought it started in 2 hours.
posted by Infinite Jest at 10:14 AM on May 16, 2010


if something happens to Messi, the entire team should charge Clemente and beat him to within an inch of his life.
posted by shmegegge at 10:15 AM on May 16, 2010


Incidentally, if Messi scores twice, he will tie Ronaldo (Brazilian, not Christiano) for most number of goals in a Spanish league season. So let's hope the game is remembered for something positive like that, not for injury.
posted by Infinite Jest at 10:25 AM on May 16, 2010


American football and basketball referees traditionally wear jerseys with black and white vertical stripes. So if anything adds comedic value to the foul on Maradona, it's that it looks to some of us like he's being taken out by a game official.
posted by ardgedee at 10:34 AM on May 16, 2010


So he kicked this guy so hard he got addicted to coke?
posted by delmoi at 10:36 AM on May 16, 2010


It would be akin to a Red Sox fan suddenly buying, and wearing, a Yankees jersey.

While I hear you, I'm not saying I'm a fan of either Barca or Real. You know the deal - who's you second, or third team. Barca always was a second or third favorinte for me, I loved Julio Cesar, Beguiristain etc. Fuck, I was even Happy when Hughes and Lineker were there, but I'm a Liverpool fan first. So when Aldridge went to Sociedad, I followed them. Xabi - a Basque - going to Real was weird, but I have to do it. His beard is better than Aldo's mustache too.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 10:37 AM on May 16, 2010


So he kicked this guy so hard he got addicted to coke?
posted by delmoi at 10:36 AM on May 16 [+] [!]


Quite possibly, as a matter of fact. Although the exact timing of Maradona's coke addiction isn't a matter of public record, he's admitted to having started it during his time in Barcelona. Even if he started snorting before his convalescence, the four months of forced inactivity can't have helped, and his behaviour certainly became much more erratic afterwards.

Even thirty years afterwards, Maradona is known to get white-hot angry whenever Goikoetxea's name is so much as mentioned near him. He's the one person he hates the most on earth (and "Dieguito" keeps grudges towards a large and varied collection of people).
posted by Skeptic at 10:52 AM on May 16, 2010


I'm English, and was 15 when Maradona scored the Hand of God goal - I remember watching it, staring uncomprehendingly at the TV for a few minutes, then having a shower (next day being a Monday) and on coming out standing on a glass in my bare feet, breaking it and slicing a chunk off the back of my heel. I have the scar to this day. An eventful day in history.

I now live in Buenos Aires and am exposed to "D10S" on a nearly daily basis. I'm not even a very big football fan, yet I still feel a small surge of pure hatred and bitterness every time I see his face, and purely due to his involvement I find myself unable to support the Argentina squad even the smallest little bit.

Not proud of this, but there you have it.
posted by jontyjago at 10:59 AM on May 16, 2010


Where's the hand of god now, fucker?
posted by jewzilla at 11:06 AM on May 16, 2010


I'm English too and have always thought Maradona was a sublime player, even if he did handball that one in. The other one he scored in the same game was of course a stunner some call the goal of the century. Also, I scraped my knees several times as a small child and grew up to be a pisshead, so I can empathise there too.
posted by Abiezer at 11:06 AM on May 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know the deal - who's you second, or third team

I fully understand, those are casual favorites. In today's global arena, it's easy to follow the team(s) of your choice, but back in the dark ages, your team was more often than not assigned to you by your father and that's the lot you drew. In Spain, where nationalist fever still runs high, you could either choose the local losers or opt for either Real Madrid or Barcelona, depending on your point of view. The occasional third team would sneak in on an off year, but most teams kept an eye on not being relegated. That being said, in Madrid you had two choices: Real or Atletico. Winner or loser. I rarely had any friends who chose Atletico and those who did always seemed unable to come to grips with Real's popularity. Sort of what a Mets fan must go through every year. Nobody serious was a fan of Rayo, Getafe or god forbd, Alcorcongo.

By the way, Messi is a great player. Probably best in the world.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:32 AM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, if Messi scores twice, he will tie Ronaldo (Brazilian, not Christiano) for most number of goals in a Spanish league season.

Crap, he just did it. Current stand: 4-0, with only 10 minutes to go. Valladolid is definitely doomed now.
posted by Skeptic at 11:34 AM on May 16, 2010


That being said, in Madrid you had two choices: Real or Atletico. Winner or loser.

Ah, the unbearable smugness of the Madrid fan. It seems like Atletico is going to win at least one serious trophy more than Real this year, though...
posted by Skeptic at 11:36 AM on May 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's all said and done. Barça champions, Valladolid relegated, Messi intact (and tied with Ronaldo -not Cristiano- for most goals in a Spanish league season), and the inept millionaires in white unable to extract anything more than a draw from minnow Malaga.
posted by Skeptic at 11:48 AM on May 16, 2010


First world cup of many for England this year in the Twenty20, not that I suppose any Aussies are reading this thread to be ribbed as they can't play football either ;)
posted by Abiezer at 12:35 PM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I have found myself checking for Real's results, wishing them to win. How did this come about, that I would be cheering on the Fascist Royalist Bastards? Thank Rafa Benitez for selling them the best midfielder Liverpool have had in a generation..."

this so hard i could cry.

Maradonna, the legend, the genius. Forget the hand of god, this is why he is awesome.
posted by marienbad at 1:16 PM on May 16, 2010


In that clip he beats five players and the goalie to score. So, basically: Maradonna by himself > half your team put together.
posted by oddman at 1:36 PM on May 16, 2010


due to his involvement I find myself unable to support the Argentina squad even the smallest little bit.

Don't worry. Due to his involvement, they won't get past the group stage. He's clueless as a manager.
posted by L'OM at 3:05 PM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love listening to or reading soccer fans talk shop.
posted by sciurus at 3:25 PM on May 16, 2010


Abiezer, I like Reuters summary of the match: England won the Twenty20 World Cup in comfortable style with a century stand from South African-born batsmen Kevin Pietersen and Craig Kieswetter setting them up ;)

I just saw this thread now and skimmed the post, reading 'a brilliant young Argentinian footballer playing for FC Barcelona was brutally fouled in a Spanish league game'. I didn't realise how much I love Messi until I stopped breathing at that line. Messi even duplicated Maradona's Goal of the century.
posted by jacalata at 4:04 PM on May 16, 2010


Disclaimer: I've heard over and over again how much better the various other tournaments are than the world cup. Thanks for letting me know that.

I've never been much into soccer, except for the World Cup, since 2002. I'd recently been in a bike accident, which kind of put me flat on my back, but since the games (some of them, anyway) were in Japan, I got into it a little bit, especially since Japan was actually half decent at the time, and the country really got swept up in it. I remember lying on the floor, watching the tv during one of the afternoon games. It was hot, so the windows were open. Japan scored a goal, and I could hear cheering out of other open windows all across the neighborhood, which was a pretty fantastic memory. To this day, my first team is Japan, and team USA a distant second. I figure since Japan is where I first had an enjoyable soccer experience, I can cheat a little and call it my 'hometown' team.

One thing that deeply sucked, though, about being on my back through the world cup: From my friends, I heard how amazing Tokyo was during the Cup, very lively, very friendly atmosphere. Even worse, the Irish national team was staying about 15 minutes from my apartment by bicycle, meaning the Irish supporters were all there too. My friends went out in that area, and the atmosphere was fantastic, they told me.

Team USA's big problem? That god-awful USA! USA! chant. It's embarrasing. I expect Hacksaw Jim Duggan to rush the pitch with a 2x4 every time it starts up. America needs a song, like all the other countries out there. Something fun to sing. Something that inspires the players and instills a sense of dread in our opponents. I submit America! Fuck Yeah! It'd be awesome...
posted by Ghidorah at 6:46 PM on May 16, 2010


With New Zealand making it to the World Cup Finals this year, there are many of us who are surprised at how much interest there is internationally in this game called soccer.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 9:08 PM on May 16, 2010


Maradonna, the legend, the genius. Forget the hand of god, this is why he is awesome.

Maradona's genius even extended to warmups.
posted by asterix at 9:45 PM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


The hand of god has to be one of the greatest trolls ever. As he was was doing it, I like to imagine Maradona thinking to himself, "the English are going to be pissed about this for at least 100 years."
posted by afu at 10:29 PM on May 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maradona's genius even extended to warmups

That's Maradona through and through: amazing skill with a football.... but..... he can't tie his own shoelaces.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:18 AM on May 17, 2010


Maradona's also coaching Argentina in the world cup which is sure to be a disaster.
posted by ageispolis at 1:27 AM on May 17, 2010


Maradona's genius even extended to warmups.

I love the expressions on the faces of the other Naples' players:

"Don't look. Do. Not. Look. Dear God, he really is full of himself, isn't he? How much Colombian white did he take this time? And then the hookers in the locker room. What an embarrassment. Will he ever grow up?"
posted by Skeptic at 1:31 AM on May 17, 2010


Maradona may be the greatest football player of the twentieth century, but he will always be a small man to me.
posted by vac2003 at 2:45 AM on May 17, 2010


Messi intact (and tied with Ronaldo -not Cristiano- for most goals in a Spanish league season)

I think it's settled that Messi is the greatest player in the world right now. The question is, just how good is he going to be? How many records will he break? He's already 5th on the all-time Barcelona scoring charts, and only needs 4 more to be 3rd. Given that he's surely never going to leave Barca, he's likely to take the top position sooner or later.

It's unfortunate for him that Maradona coaches Argentina, meaning that he's got very little chance of winning the world cup this year. So I doubt he'll match Pele's three World Cups. But other than that? Could he become the best of all time?
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:24 AM on May 17, 2010


It looks like there are most of MeFi's soccer fans who are watching this thread so I'm going to ask why is it thought of as a given that he will be a bad manager?
posted by josher71 at 12:06 PM on May 17, 2010


why is it thought of as a given that he will be a bad manager?

Well, because he's already proven himself an utterly inept manager. In the World Cup qualifiers, from the moment he took over as manager, Argentina won 4 games, and lost 4, including against such powerhouses as Ecuador and, most painfully, a 6-1 humiliation against Bolivia. Argentina almost failed to qualify, which, for a team fielding the likes of Messi, Aguero, Milito or Veron, would have been downright criminal.
posted by Skeptic at 1:18 PM on May 17, 2010


Maradona update.
posted by josher71 at 4:50 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is there any hope that the players will basically ignore his "coaching" and play there way? I realize they can't control the line-up, but perhaps they can minimize the damage.
posted by oddman at 10:03 AM on May 25, 2010


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