Maradona Vs Nigeria: How Late Former Argentina Star Cemented His Legend In Nigerian Minds

Diego Maradona was more than a teacher, he was a nonconformist, one who will become too familiar to Nigeria and Nigerians. The former Argentine superstar is considered one of the best to have played the game and, in some quarters, the greatest, although that would be debatable. However, what can never be debatable is his greatness and how he made the game so beautiful while playing it.

Maradona had several encounters with Nigeria, both as a player, a coach, and even as a passionate fan. His reaction to Argentina’s victory over the Super Eagles at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg at the 2018 World Cup in Russia cannot be forgotten.

Where it started …

At Foxboro Stadium in Massachusetts, United States of America, on June 25, 1994. It was Nigeria’s second match at the World Cup, having beaten Bulgaria 3-0 in the first. La Albiceleste had won the World Cup in Mexico eight years earlier, and they had a man to thank for that: Diego Armando Maradona Franco.

Although he was 34 at the time and seemingly in decline, the Super Eagles seemed in awe of the Argentine anyway and indeed, there is a joke about how being beaten by the stars may have cost Nigeria that game. He didn’t find the back of the net that day, but had registered his greatness in the minds of millions of Nigerians.

Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg

June 12 represents an important date in Nigerian political history. But on June 12, 2010, it was a different story, as Argentina managed three consecutive victories over Nigeria in as many World Cup matches. Gabriel Heinze’s goal in the sixth minute made the difference as Albiceleste were left without winners over Super Eagles. What does this have to do with Diego Maradona? Oh, he was the coach, the coach of Argentina.

The Super Eagles had also faced and lost to the Argentines in the 2002 World Cup, but there was no direct participation from Maradona as he had retired. But in 2010, he led his beloved Argentina to another victory over Nigeria, the second time he was directly involved against West Africans.

The ‘crazy moments’ in St. Petersburg

It was another meeting between Los Albiceleste and the Super Eagles and this time, it was at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg at the 2018 World Cup in Russia on June 26. This time, the Eagles were so close to getting their first point match against Argentina in the senior World Cup, against Marcos Rojo’s 86th One-minute winner meant that would not happen, while also sealing Nigeria’s fate in the process.

Throughout the game, there were bizarre moments on Maradona’s part, from celebrating Lionel Messi’s first match to showing the middle finger to fans, dancing with a Nigerian lady, and then being helped out of the VIP box.

In all, if there is one player that the Super Eagles and their fans will always remember, it will be the man who ruled the world of soccer in its prime, Diego Armando Maradona Franco.

Rest in peace, legend!

source: – fcnaija