May 23, 2024

For David Squires Diego Maradona is the greatest

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I kind of agree with him.

David Squires Illustrated History of Football is a laugh-a-minute look back through the game, from its beginnings in the stone age to Leicester City’s victory in the Premier League.

Subtle humour seeps out of the detail of everything Squires sketches. You only need to scan the front cover of his book: Fergie’s drinker’s nose and looking at his watch, Ronaldo turning his back to Messi, Messi posing unashamed in his purple tuxido and Maradona with shot eyes. Squires luxuriates in bringing to the foreground everything that FIFA, football club communications directors and football’s leading broadcasters would like to forget about.

I was interested to see that Squires had made Maradona the captain of the team of greats he depicted on the front cover. This, I felt, hinted at the fact that Squires felt that greatness is not just about technique, power and effectiveness, but also by personality, passion and style, and something about rising to the moment, which Maradona did in the 86 World Cup, like no other since.

This was confirmed in another book that Squires published called The Illustrated History of Football: Hall of Fame. Having listened to Squires I was compelled to view some YouTube footage of Maradona playing. There was something about Maradona, about the way he seemed to be made of rubber, the way he sprung from one place to another across the midfield, which was a sheer joy to watch. No-one, I don’t think, has ever quite played with so much joy and playfulness, and with so much pent up energy stored in those sprung legs. Its true to say, I would argue, that Maradona never had the penetration of Messi and Ronaldo, but I think there is something more magical about watching him play. I remember during the height of Maradona’s performances the big question was whether Maradona was a better player than Pele. Pele won more, he probably scored a lot more too. But I have never seen any footage of Pele playing that filled me with a sense of magic.



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