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Cosmic Kite, What Planet Did You Come From?

“Cosmic Kite,” the broadcast of Maradona’s famous goal, a shared cultural reference to all
By Amílcar E. Challú, 
Associate Professor of History,
and proud dual citizen of Argentina and the United States

Diego Armando Maradona passed earlier today. One of the best players of all times. The best, actually 😀. A fascinating character. A flesh and blood figure with greatness and flaws. Never polished like Pelé (or Messi), humble in origins and also in acknowledging his limitations.

His career is intertwined with Argentine history (a good timeline of his life and career up to 2004 is here). His first world cup was just a few months after the end of the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands war. His most glorious moment, in 1986, a moment of difficulties but also great hope in his country, the return of democracy. Folks outside of Argentina may not know, but the second-place in the Italy World Cup of 1990 was even more celebrated than the 1986 world cup. Maradona united a whole country as it was just going through a hyperinflationary crisis in which prices were increasing by more than 10,000% (ten thousand!) per month. As Maradona’s personal life and career tumbled in the 1990s, so did Argentina, eventually hitting what’s called the Argentine great depression of 1998-2002 (yes, soccer world cups also bookended this crisis, this time without Maradona’s participation).

The video I’m linking here is Maradona’s second goal against England in the 1986 World Cup, Maradona’s greatest moment. It’s worth for the goal (the greatest, imho) but also for the broadcast. I vividly recall that moment. The family was watching glued to the TV watching these matches in my uncle’s house. The passion and poetry of the broadcast (by Víctor Hugo Morales) encapsulates the glory of the goal and the significance for this moment in Argentine society, still hurting from war, a brutal dictatorship and hopeful for a new beginning. Here’s the translation that Amy Robinson and I put together. We use it in every Latin American culture or history class that we teach.

Maradona has it there (the ball). Two are tagging him.
He stops the ball.
Sprints on the right side, the genius of world football.
Here comes
He can pass (touch) it to Burruchaga.
Always Maradona.
Genius, genius, genius
Ta, ta, ta
I want to cry
Oh holy God
Long live football!
Awesome goal, Diegol!
Maradona, this is a moment for crying, excuse me
Gol, gol, gol
Maradona in a memorable sprint
In the [greatest] play of all times
Cosmic kite, what planet did you come from
To leave so many Englishmen behind?
To make the country a clenched fist shouting out loud for Argentina?
Argentina 2, England 0
Diegol, Diegol
Diego Armando Maradona
Thanks, God. For football, for Maradona, for these tears
For this Argentina 2, England 0 

Perhaps we’ll see the Barrilete Cósmico flying high, guiding our way to a new era. I’m surprised this is not a tenet of faith of the the Maradonian church.

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