Never had one man so single-handedly conquered so many adversaries on the football pitch
"Oh Mama mama mama, Do you know why my heart beats? I have seen Maradona, I have seen Maradona, And mamma I am in love."
When did you first see Maradona?
If the 1982 World Cup was the first time you saw him, you would have met a precocious talent, of stocky built and an angelic face, who clearly possessed unearthly talents but not yet able to put it on full display.
If you were among the generation to watch the 1986 World Cup on television, then you must count yourself as being among those rare ones who saw miracles – miracles that rival Jesus turning water into wine or Moses parting the Red Sea (forgive the hyperbole; Maradona fans will understand).
Never had one man so single-handedly conquered so many adversaries on the football pitch, created so many moments of magic, and carried a ragtag bunch of teammates on his shoulders to ultimate footballing glory.
If you met him in 1990, you would have met an overrated football player, prone to throwing tantrums, who clearly rode on luck and defensive tactics to overreach for the finals, until the Germans broke his team's defence down.
By 1994, you would have already known that this man and legend was prone to excesses and drug abuse, and although you would once again witness some early magic, he would be thrown out of the tournament for yet again failing a drug test.
In between, you could have seen him in a Napoli jersey, teaming up with his friend and partner in crime Claudio Caniggia, to not just produce magical moments of football, but shocking moments like the two passionately kissing on the pitch to celebrate a goal.
That was Maradona. He wasn't just about football. He was about friendship, camaraderie, the hero of the underdog, the rags to riches story, the politics (read Argentina vs England war, friendship with Castro).
He was also, almost equally, about his dark side – the Hand of God, the drugs, the mafia, the illegitimate children, the excesses.
Maradona spent most of his career and almost his entire post-football player life mired in the debate about who is the "greatest of all time".
During his career, he and his fans feuded with Pele and his fans. Then came Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Zidane and finally Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – every "greatest of their generations" being compared to Maradona.
Ironically, it would be very hard to justify claiming Diego as the greatest based simply on numbers and stats.
He won just one World Cup, so did many others. His club career, marred by frequent breaks due to drug suspensions and personal tantrums, is inconsistent. Even his magical ability with the feet – that mesmerising dribbling ability – was not just emulated by his anointed protégé Lionel Messi, but actually reproduced at far greater frequency.
So what makes Maradona so special?
It is still hard to express in words. Maradona not just played football, but he painted with his feet, he told stories through his triumphs, he broke hearts with his tragic failures. He made us dream of the stars, he devastated us with his failures.
There will never be another like him.