When Lineker Met Maradona
The greatest athlete in history is a fat coke fiend who befriends dictators and shoots the occasional journalist. But enough about Dalian Atkinson. The BBC prefer to spend their time with When Lineker Met Maradona where Gary Linkeker tracks down the soccer legend for a cup of tea and a chat. What about that Maradona, eh? He’s a character and no mistake. How I laughed as he stole the World Cup from England’s very grasp with his volleyball pop over Peter Shilton and subsequent entry for finest goal in history.
"’Oh! You have to say that’s magnificent’ said Barry Davies aptly reflecting the stunned begrudging admiration of the watching English public."
"Oh! You have to say that’s magnificent." said Barry Davies aptly reflecting the stunned begrudging admiration of the watching English public.
"Which planet are you from? I am going to cry! Oh my God! How beautiful
football is! What a goal! Diego Maradona! You made it seem so easy! I am
crying, forgive me please!" said Argentinian commentator Victor Hugo Morales aptly reflecting the collective orgasm in the watching Argentinian public.
"Like some confused New Testament character, his fall and redemption happened within minutes of the other."
Like some confused New Testament character, his fall and redemption happened within minutes of the other. The first goal told the English "You can’t beat me as a huckster", the second "you can’t touch me as an artist". Maradona graciously paid tribute to the nobility and honestly of the English player, as much of the footballing world does. The lack of gamesmanship and play-acting among the home-grown English footballer is (sincerely) applauded worldwide. They just don’t feel like adopting it in a hurry themselves.
Maradona went on to achieve perhaps even greater things at Napoli – earning the first two Scudettos in the club’s history along with the Uefa Cup. Neapolitans painted street murals of this God made flesh in response. The heights he reached made his spectacular descent into drugs, obesity and ASBO chic all the more poignant.
"Like a musician given the chance to speak to the resurrected Mozart Lineker spoke reverentially, just so delighted to be breathing the same air."
Lineker’s interview with Maradona was interesting enough but it covered familiar ground well gone over on other Maradona documentaries – the glory, the superhuman achievements, the inevitable "did you handle it?" question . More interesting was watching Lineker’s demeanour – totally star-struck in the presence of Diego. Like a musician given the chance to speak to the resurrected Mozart, Lineker spoke reverentially in heavily accented Catalan, just so delighted to be breathing the same air.
This is not surprising. Maradona has every conceivable flaw yet is as close to divinity as makes no difference. You never tire of watching footage of him in his playing days – the balance, the strength, the bravery, the impish invention and jaw-dropping skill. Above all, he played like his life depended on it. Everything in the team went through him. The ultimate team player in 1986, he turned a team of also-rans into lionhearts. No single player has ever been so influential in a World Cup triumph – not Pele, not Beckenbauer, not Zidane.
"Having turned his life around via stomach stapling and detox, the slimline Maradona presents a chat show in Argentina, La Noche Del 10."
And now, having turned his life around via stomach stapling and detox, the slimline Maradona presents a chat show in Argentina, La Noche Del 10 (Night of the Number 10). Looking like something from The Fast Show‘s Channel 9 output, the uniquely stellar guest-list has included Pele, Fidel Castro and Robbie Williams. You won’t see that line-up again in a hurry (unless the Reading Festival takes a startling new direction).
Maradona is happy and successful again and it’s totally, unequivocally great to see it. But you can’t help thinking that it could have been more interesting to have seen When Maradona Met Lineker an exclusive interview with the English legend.
Diego: Gary you faggot, a lot of Argentinians remember you simply has the jug-eared ponce who missed a sitter in the final minute that would have taken the ’86 game to extra time – but there’s much less to you than that isn’t there?
Gary: Well, I don’t know about that –
Diego: Excellent. You never got booked once in your playing career. What are you, gay?
Gary: I’ll have you know I’m happily married.
Diego: That’s not what I’ve read, ducky. Now, what’s all this with the crisps?
It’s the quiet ones you’ve got to watch out for, y’ken.
The best thing about it: Footage of the glory days.
The worst thing about it: The Hand of God business – let it go, Gary
The verdict on When Lineker Met Maradona: Don’t do drugs. Well, not that close to a tournament anyway.
Marks out of 10: 7