During a visit to Argentina years ago to chair a Kabbalah congress for my South American students, I vividly witnessed firsthand the impact of the gifted football player Diego Armando Maradona on his fans—a deep impact made not only at his birthplace, but around the world. At only sixty years old, his heart blew the last whistle in his ultimate match called “life.”
He is considered by many as the greatest football player of all time. I do not know all his amazing skills on the field, but I am aware that he had a special attitude toward his profession, a huge passion and enthusiasm for the game, a great love for football that captivated the masses, as well as an unmatched commitment to bring fans joy and connect with them. In that sense, professionally speaking, he set a great example for many athletes around the world.
If we separate the athlete from the man, off the field Maradona had a special relationship with life itself. With all the noise around him, he remained a simple and unassuming person, warm and cordial like many of the Latin people. It’s easy to judge someone’s deeds on the surface, but after visiting the slum in which he grew up, one must tip their hat to him and say that, despite being raised in a difficult environment, he did much more good than bad to others.
Therefore, there is no point in harping about the way he conducted his private life, his behavior or personal attributes, but to focus instead on his professional achievements, on his unique excellence and his positive contribution to others. His love of sports and privileged talent transformed him into a legend that will live on in the admiration of generations to come.
One may ask why so many talented stars and celebrities with phenomenal success behave erratically throughout their careers, sometimes even showing a tendency toward self-destruction. It stems from the fact that they touched the pinnacle of fame, tasted world prestige, felt like revered idols, and once they felt the sweetness of global recognition and wealth, realized these accomplishments provided very little fulfillment. This is why such cultural heroes of the world who have reached the top of their fields all too often become addicted to drugs, fall from grace, and divorce and remarry countless times. Pleasure and pain are linked together, and without pain they do not feel real pleasure. Inside this duality they frantically and desperately search for the meaning of life.