5 foot 5 and weighing anywhere between one hundred and forty and three hundred and fifty pounds*, the good thing about picking El Diego is that you don’t need to do any research before proclaiming him the greatest. His numbers (258 goals in 492 games**) are utterly irrelevant (that for the record is why he’s superior to Pe‘I scored a thousand goals, honest’le***) and a Youtube survey would rank Darrens Huckerby and Fletcher as his equals. In fact, given the dubious wisdom that’s poured out of El Diego’s mouth down the years (‘My legitimate kids are Dalma and Giannina. The rest are a product of my money and mistakes’), research may be to his detriment.
All the evidence that the Messiah and Prophet of the Iglesia Maradoniana needs to be claimed as the greatest can be gleaned from one match (yes, it is that one, that’s the point).
Football, as I have written elsewhere, and as Youtube (if the Premier League would let it) testifies, is about moments and Diego provided two of its best in the same World Cup game.
The scope and the scale of Maradona’s impact in Argentina’s 2-1 World Cup Quarter Final victory over England was a glorious enactment of the point of watching football. On the one hand (wahaay!) he cheated, on the other he was gloriously, faithfully graceful but with both he left his impossibly memorable and (by definition) unique fingerprints on the history of the game we call beautiful. His performance plumbed the scarily scintillating notes of a bass (think Greig’s In the Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt) heralding villainy. It also seared the delicate, quickened heights of a fragilely soaring violin (hear Williams’ The Lark Ascending).
Maradona aligned these two poles in a single match. In a World Cup (which he won) Quarter Final. Against England. He is the greatest. Ever.
* I made this up.
** This is according to Wikipedia.
*** This is not on Wikipedia (Pele made this up).