On Flashback Fridays I reflect back on some of my past travels and travel mishaps before I started this blog: Follow at #FlashbackFri.
Argentina has two national heroes: Eva Peron and Diego Maradona. Maradona in particular is treated like a god in the colourful Buenos Aires neighbourhood of La Boca. It was in La Boca where his football career kicked off while he was playing for the Boca Juniors football club.
When we walked around this beautiful neighbourhood we couldn’t help but notice that there were images and statues of this guy everywhere. And when I say everywhere I mean EVERYWHERE: in shops, on balconies and on walls. Maradona seemed to be omnipresent.
This was of course much to the disgust of Chris, who as a Brit, still hasn’t gotten over this whole hand of god incident during the 1986 World Cup. For those of you who are not familiar with this story Argentina beat England in this World Cup quarter final due to one of the most controversial goals in football history (the most controversial one in my opinion is of course the one when England beat Germany in the 1966 World Cup final through a ‘goal’ during which the ball fell on the line, but definitely not over). Chris and I can argue about this for hours.
Anyway, what happened during the Argentina/England quarter final was that Maradona hit an incoming ball into the net with his fist, before the English goalkeeper could get to it. It was a clear handball, but neither the referee nor the linesmen saw the incident so the goal stood. Maradona didn’t even deny the fact that it was a handball and cheekily called it the hand of god after the game. In general Brits like to hold a grudge (as a German who lived in the UK for 8 years I know that all too well 🙂 ), but when it comes to football they really really like to hold a grudge. To this day the Argentinian football team is England’s biggest football enemy (closely followed by Germany of course).
So can you imagine Chris’ reaction when we walked around La Boca and we saw this man that suspiciously looked like England’s and therefore Chris’ arch enemy? At first we weren’t really sure if it was Maradona, but he was the same height, had the same stature and he had an 80ies style mullet. He was even wearing a football shirt. It must be him! Mentally Chris had already prepared his speech outlining his disgust about the 1986 incident, but then we found out that it was in fact NOT Maradona. It was just a doppelganger. So what gave him away? Some tourists asked him if they can take a photo of him and he wanted to charge them money to do so! Even Maradona wouldn’t do that.
So this is the time I thought I met Maradona, but actually didn’t. Have you ever met a celebrity during your travels? Tell me in the comment section below.