One of soccer’s greatest—and most controversial—all-time players reflects on his life and career.
Short and stocky, fast and aggressive, and supremely confident, Maradona (b. 1961) helped carry Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, where he earned perhaps his most memorable nickname, “Barrilete cósmico” (“Cosmic Kite”), after scoring the “Goal of the Century” against England in the quarterfinal match (they beat West Germany in the championship). That victory is the ostensible subject of this book, but it is much more. Imagine Robert Evans’ The Kid Stays in the Picture (1994), but the backdrop is the world of soccer rather than Hollywood. Does Maradona settle scores? You bet! Does he call out soccer officials in Argentina and in the sport’s global governing body, FIFA? Absolutely! Do even his compliments come with backhands? Of course. Maradona has clearly never forgotten a slight, and he gets the last word on seemingly every argument in which he fears someone may have spoken last. He pulls no punches, and while there is no doubt that Maradona is an enormous fan of Maradona, he does not always elude his own rapier. The result is a rollicking book festooned with vicious critiques and frontal attacks. Many readers will appreciate a soccer memoir that throws elbows rather than blowing kisses—and while it is “written” by Maradona, it has all of the characteristics of an “as-told-to” account, courtesy of Argentine soccer journalist Arcucci. Maradona presupposes a solid knowledge of soccer—players and coaches and other figures from three decades ago and more enter with nary an introduction—and one has to buy into his view of the world. But there is plenty of guilty pleasure to be had from all the name-calling and vitriol from arguably the sometimes-petulant but always entertaining footballer.
Not a great book but great fun for soccer fans.