When Diego Armando Maradona joined Napoli in 1984, 70,000 people flocked to see him arrive at the San Paolo stadium, scarcely able to believe that one of the greatest footballers alive had chosen to join an unsuccessful side from an impoverished part of Italy. Maradona would eventually gift unprecedented riches to Napoli, leading them to a first Scuddeto in their history in 1987, among other achievements, and was dubbed the ‘God of Naples’. This beautiful picture distils the euphoria of that period and recognises Maradona as the leader of his adopted people. However, the good times didn’t last. Asif Kapadia’s riveting 2019 documentary, constructed from over 500 hours of never-before-seen footage, recounted how Maradona became conflicted by his involvement with the mafia. A 15-month punishment for using cocaine and the scandal of fathering a baby, whom he refused to acknowledge as his own, ultimately saw him exiled from Napoli in disgrace. Maradona wasn’t God after all; he was human.

Photograph: Mark Leech / Offside

Words: Jonny Weeks

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