Gracias, Diego. Gracias, Genio. A Tribute To Diego Maradona.

by: Mickey Ingles (originally published on Spin.ph)

DIEGO Armando Maradona could’ve been Filipino. 

He had our height. He had our frame. He had our hair. He even had our smile.

I grew up watching highlights of Maradona. There was no YouTube then. Just grainy videos downloaded off Limewire. 

People talk about Maradona as the ‘hand of God’, when perhaps it would have been more accurate to talk about the foot of God. It was majestic. It was brilliant. It was holy enough to have a religion named after its owner in the city of Rosario. He had the touch of a master. And he painted the green pitch with the dazzling blur of the white and blue of La Albiceleste.

These old videos are still saved in my hard drive. Videos still in my old iPod, ready to be deployed for some pre-game inspiration.

Videos that spoke to me because of the genius little man who juggled an orange in a locker room, danced and balanced a ball on his head during warmups, and then carved through defenses untouchable and unguardable with that left foot of his.

Videos that spoke to me because I was like him. I had his height — although he had two inches on me. I had his stocky frame. I had those glorious curls. Even that cheeky smile.

Videos that spoke and will speak to other Filipinos across generations. From my father’s generation to my generation to my son Diego’s generation. (Yes, he is named after Diego Maradona). 

We are like him. He was like us. He could’ve been Filipino.

Yet, there was another thing that ties us to the Argentinian Number Ten.

Diego Maradona played with bronca — an Argentinian term which meant being pissed off. He was a flawed genius, with his drug use and questionable choices outside the field, but on it, he was pure. He channeled the frustrations and anger of growing up in a country similar to ours into his art. And what glorious art he painted. 

This bronca, this unbridled passion, this fire fueled by frustration, this controlled rage we take when we step on the field or the court, this height-does-not-matter frenzy — we call it puso

We have his heart. He had our heart. He could’ve been Filipino.

When he scored the best goal ever scored in a World Cup in 1986 against the hapless defense of the English, Victor Hugo gave the call of a lifetime. 

A call that could’ve easily been all of us heaping praises on the life of Diego Armando Maradona.

Siempre Maradona. Genio! Genio! Genio! Ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta! Gol!!!!
Always Maradona. Genius! Genius! Genius! Ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta! Goal!

Barrilete cósmico, de que planete visite? 
Cosmic kite, what planet did you come from?

Gracias Dios, por el fútbol, por Maradona, por estas lágrimas.
Thank you, God, for football, for Maradona, for these tears.

Rest in peace, Maradona. Always, Maradona. You were a genius.

You were from Argentina. You could’ve been Filipino. But we know where you come from, you cosmic kite: You’re from the heavens, where you’re juggling an orange right now, dancing, carving your way in the clouds.

Thank you, God, for football. For Maradona. For these tears.

Mickey Ingles is the editor-in-chief of Batas Sportiva. Maradona was his Kobe.

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