Thursday 26 November 2020, 09:57

A Legend devoted to his sport

  • Maradona died on Wednesday 25 November

  • The Argentinian legend had been working closely with FIFA since 2017

  • Joined the FIFA Legends programme and took part in a number of events

“To bring football back to FIFA and FIFA back to football.” That was one of the pledges Gianni Infantino made during his campaign to win election as FIFA President. He fulfilled that pledge at the start of his term of office in 2016, setting up the FIFA Legends programme.

In their capacity as footballing legends who have made an indelible mark on the history of the game, a number of former players and coaches – both male and female – joined the movement with the idea of making their voices heard, utilising their profiles and bringing their skills to bear in support of the tournaments and events organised by FIFA.

Chief among these great names of the game was Diego Maradona, who passed away on Wednesday 25 November, leaving the world in mourning.

In January 2017, the Argentinian wizard attended The Best FIFA Football Awards 2016 to present the Best FIFA Men’s Coach award. “It’s like a dream for me,” said Maradona before the ceremony. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time and I’m going to savour it.” Admitting to being “a little bit nervous” about walking on to the stage, he added: “It’s strange because I never felt so tense before a final or a semi-final.”

The legendary No.10 enjoyed a very special moment before the ceremony as he was reunited with the FIFA World Cup™ Trophy, which he had lifted into the air at Mexico 1986.

Three months after that awards night, Maradona took part in the draw for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017 and a match promoting the competition, which he also won, back in 1979, when he was voted the player of the tournament.

2017 also saw him take part in the 67th FIFA Congress in Manama (Bahrain) and open a shopping centre with a match in which he played alongside the likes of Ronaldinho, Carli Lloyd and Nia Kuenze.

He then appeared at the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 in St Petersburg, before starring once again at The Best FIFA Football Awards in London that October, where he presented the FIFA Best Men’s Player award to Cristiano Ronaldo.

Maradona was also involved in the preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, taking part in the Final Draw. He was in the stands for the Opening Match, the Final and for some of Argentina’s matches.

That same year, El Pibe del Oro ('Golden Boy') shared his memories of Mexico 1986 with FIFA TV for the One to Eleven documentary.

In April 2020, the Argentinian wizard joined his fellow FIFA Legends for the #WeWillWin campaign in support of the health and key workers fighting on the front line against Covid-19.

Then, in June, having been moved by the events that led to the start of the #StopRacism #StopViolence campaign, Maradona gave his full support.