The Two Sides of Diego Maradona and Messi’s Struggle for National Identity


Diego Maradona is a name that is nationally recognized regardless of whether one follows the sport of football or not. He is among the greatest to grace the game but off the pitch he had a more troubling life that trophies and glory could not heal. I was aware of Maradona’s fight with drug addiction and his at times upsetting lifestyle but the article revealed the underlying reasons for his behavior off the field. Another fact I knew was the difference in upbringing Maradona had compared to the next generation Argentine phenom, Lionel Messi. Maradona was adored by his nation while Argentina chose to distance themselves from Messi. I think this is mostly due to the fact that Messi was quick to leave his home country for Spain. It is close to a crime to ditch your roots especially when it is because of football. Messi’s Argentine identity was scrapped until he would return and claim the new #10 shirt. That said, Argentina and Messi’s relationship has been repairing itself over the years and arguably has been fully healed after Messi won the world cup in 2022. It wasn’t until the World Cup trophy was brought home to Argentina did Messi and his nation finally make amends (This is just my perception).


Prior to reading the article, I did not have much empathy for Maradona’s life that was cut short due to several reasons, many of which he could have prevented. Moreover, I was not aware of the national significance of his presence (they even called him God). But it is ironic that he was so flawed as a human and had many shortcomings, though these characteristics were embraced and worshiped by his fans. On the contrary, Messi’s humble and peaceful personality did not seem to attract as much attention. I learned that it was the wild and immature lifestyle that Argentina football fans desired as it seemingly added to his legacy. Also, I did not know the significance of family in Maradona’s life and how he would run to it for a temporary escape from the, at times, hostile environment he was living in, particularly Barcelona.