Maradona and Nigeria

Argentina versus Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup Football Championships. Uche Okechukwu (Nigeria) and Diego Maradona (Argentina). (Photo by Jérôme Prevost/TempSport/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

By Desmond Ekwueme

Nigeria is 60…and Diego Armando Maradona who just passed on a couple of days ago was 60.

Maradona was born on October 30, 1960….same month and year Nigeria gained her independence from colonial rule. Nigeria got her independence on October 1st, 1960.

Maradona featured against Nigeria at USA 94 World Cup. He led his country to a 2-1 victory in that encounter. Two goals from Claudio Caniggia and one from Nigeria’s Samson Siasia summed up the tie.

The Government of Argentina has ordered a three-day national mourning for the departed Maradona…even as his lying in state for all to pay their last respect and tribute is that of a national leader.

How else can a celebrity, a star and a national hero be celebrated or honoured? How else can a country motivate, inspire or boost the younger generation of sportsmen and women?

If it were here, we would have asked why declare national mourning days for a common footballer? We would have asked is he a Governor, Senator or Minister? We would have asked his state of origin, his tribe or religion.

We must remember that Maradona featured in the same World Cup, USA ’94 with Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, Rashidi Yekini, Uche Okafor and Thompson Oliha…our Late stars who were not given same befitting lying in state or heroic burial like the Argentine. Sad and most unfortunate.

Our government and people must understand and appreciate that sports especially football is no longer a mere recreation activity….or public relations tool. It is a way of life. It is a “religion”. It is serious money-spinning business. It is a machinery for governance and government.

We must treat our sportsmen and women like true professionals…true heroes and heroines….and like true nationalists or nation builders.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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