As Maradona rests, murals immortalise his legend

Murals around the world survive Maradona's legacy. Image via Creative Commons.

Fireworks sounded off, flares lit the night sky and chants of “There is only one Maradona” filled the air in Naples as fans created a scene fitting to the personality their hero.

More than 30 years since Diego Maradona led the city to football glory, fans gathered in front of his most prominent mural — a nine-story portrait in the neighborhood of San Giovanni a Teduccio, painted by local artist Jorit Agoch.

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The Argentina legend, who died in his Buenos Aires home at the age of 60 on Wednesday, had reached deity-status to the people of the city that he led to its first two Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990 during his seven-year stint at Napoli.

Artwork of the football great is frequent around the world, no more so than in the cities that he held his closest ties: his birthplace Beunos Aires and Naples. As news of Maradona’s passing spread around the world, murals paying homage to the midfielder became hotspots in which to pay respect.

Murals have long been a way to re-tell the story of Maradona’s rollercoaster life. Narrow, urban streets around the world are littered with them.

In La Plata, a province in Buenos Aires, Argentina, fans of Gimnasia created a frame-by-frame mural depicting Maradona’s 1986 World Cup quarter-final winner, later labelled the “Goal of the Century.” The Argentinian government has declared a three-day national mourning.

From Binnish, Syria to New York City, artists around the world have repeatedly taken to the streets paint the legacy of a global star.

Football artist and graphic designer Stephen Gulbis created an unused portrait of Maradona for Asif Kapadia’s 2019 documentary on the midfielder. For Gulbis, Maradona gave artists a chance to reflect his unrivalled love for the beautiful game.

“My inspiration was based on Maradona’s pure joy of playing football,” Gulbis told Voice of London. “He was obviously a genius  — I just heard Jurgen Klinsmann describe him as an artist — but it seemed to me he was never happier than when he had a ball at his feet and playing the game he loved.

“My favourite memory of Maradona is that YouTube clip of his pre-match warm up for Napoli [in the 1989 UEFA Cup semifinal], where he’s juggling the ball in rhythm to Life is Life on the PA system.”

Words: Connor O’Halloran | Subbing: William Murray

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