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A giant Maradona mural emerges in Argentina days ahead of FIFA World Cup

In the middle of the concrete jungle that is Argentina’s bustling capital, a huge mural has emerged of Diego Maradona wearing a national team jersey, his right hand in a fist and a defiant expression on his face.

The massive artwork, 45 meters high and 40 meters wide and painted on the side of a 14-storey building in Buenos Aires, is one of several tributes that Argentines have dedicated to their “soccer god” shortly before the start of this year’s World Cup in Qatar, the first since Maradona’s death on November 25, 2020.

Maradona’s feats and defeats as a player on the national team are being remembered, from the famous and infamous goals against England before the country won the 1986 World Cup to the failed final against West Germany four years later, and the doping test that got him expelled from the following World Cup in 1994.

Well-known street artist Martin Ron was behind the world’s largest mural, inspired by a photograph of the then-Argentina captain that captures his expression shortly before he sang the national anthem at the 1990 World Cup final against West Germany, which Argentina lost 1-0.

“It’s a photo of Diego when he was close to winning the country’s third star,” Ron said during a break from the work he began a month ago.

Argentina also won the World Cup in 1978, but Maradona didn’t make the team for that tournament.

“This photo summarises everything Diego was,” Ron said. “Beyond the player, he was the guts, the motor, the heart.”

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“He was our reference, captain, everything”

To one side of Maradona’s face, Ron painted a constellation of stars in the shape of a kite, a reference to his nickname “cosmic kite,” which is what one well-known radio commentator called the soccer star following his second goal against England in 1986.

“His absence will be felt, Diego was always a star. In all the World Cups he did his own thing, inside and outside the field,” Ron said. “And in Qatar, he will sadly not be there.”

Ron’s mural was officially unveiled on Sunday to coincide with the soccer great’s birthday.

Maradona died at the age of 60 while he was under hospital care in his home following brain surgery. 

“He is missed, Diego’s image has been, and is, very strong,” said Carlos Tapia, a member of the 1986 championship team. “He was our reference, captain, everything. He was always close to each one of us. Let’s hope he can be a guiding light from above in Qatar.”

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