Ossie Ardiles, a former teammate of late Diego Maradona, says FC Barcelona football icon Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus can’t dream of the kind of fame Maradona enjoyed during his professional football career.
Ossie Ardiles and Diego Maradona represented Argentina’s national team in the 1982 World Cup. Though he was older than Maradona by age and in the team, he could not but marveled at the amount of attention the late FC Barcelona and Napoli playmaker enjoyed.
Maradona died on Wednesday of a heart attack at 60-year-old while Ossie Ardiles who is 68-year-old is still well and kicking in the United Kingdom where he currently runs a football academy known as Ossie Ardiles Soccer School.
Though Maradona was a joy to watch due to the skillful manner in which he played the game, he was a controversial figure in most parts of his football career. He was loved by the football fans and a problem to football administrators because of his drug abuse and addiction.
Until his death on Wednesday, November 25, he was battling with illnesses which could be said to be a result of his over-dependence on the use of alcohol.
He however noted that it was not easy for Maradona due to the massive spotlight on him everywhere he went and on everything he did. Ardiles noted how Maradona started facing such a life when he was still very young.
“It was not easy at all”, Ossie Ardiles told BBC after Maradona’s demise. “Right from an early age, he was subject to the press all the time. He didn’t have a normal childhood, he never had normal teenage years.
“Everybody wanted to be with him, everybody wanted a piece of him, so it was incredibly difficult.
“He will be remembered as a genius in football. You can see the extraordinary amount of interest that he generates.
“People like [Juventus and Portugal striker] Ronaldo, or people like [Barcelona and Argentina forward] Messi, they couldn’t even dream of having this kind of admiration. That was the Maradona phenomenon – all the time.”
The controversies surrounding the football career of Maradona did not stop him from being a football deity in Argentina especially after helping the country to win the 1986 World Cup.
Immediately after it was confirmed that Maradona had died, the president of Argentina, Alberto Fernandez, declared three days of mourning in honor of the football icon. As of the last check, the remains of the football icon has been taken to the country’s presidential building as part of the programs lined up to honor him.