Did Football itself fail Diego Maradona?
Maradona was a football genius with the world at his feet but he blew it in an orgy of self-destruction. He recovers only to start to live too well and make himself ill again.
Why do great talents so often have this self-destruct button? In all areas of sport, not just football, we have the Mike Tysons and the Alex Higgins'. Supreme talents who lose it, not because of a lack of talent, but because they throw it away in a moment of madness that becomes a lifetime. It's not like it needs to be this way, for all the wayward stars there are true sporting greats such as Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, who perform at the top of their game for years (just look at the number of footballers who use the number 23 in honour of Jordan). Those two, in particular, have faced intense scrutiny under the glare of the media spotlight and yet they have managed to cope with it.
If greats like these can cope how come the likes of Maradona and Best can't? We get told that geniuses need that little bit of devil in them to make them as good as they are, and I certainly wouldn't disagree with that. It's just that some people know how to channel it correctly, to make themselves better players because of it. Others let it destroy them.
You have to wonder just how good Best could have been if he had been able to control his demons. After all, Tony Adams was twice the player after he had sorted his problems out. Perhaps the problem is that football itself is failing these players because of the tendency to just accept that geniuses need these flaws to be geniuses.
Article written by Tris Burke