Robin Scott-Elliot: Maradona and Becks: both golden, but only one's a god
View from the Sofa: Maradona by Kusturica, More4/Friday night with Jonathan Ross, BBC 1
Monday 19 July 2010
If the World Cup taught us anything it is that England have a lot of ground to make up when it comes to nicknames. To the rest of the world, the sporting moniker – or "your Ali" as it is know in cockney-rhyming slang, in tribute to the most borrowed author from the player's library at Upton Park – is all about flair and excitement. A South American winger will be the Cheetah with the Dancing Feet, whereas England have Stevie G.
As David Beckham has realised, it is no good just attaching a "y" to part of your name, not least because he would have ended up as Becky. He may not have come up with Golden Balls but he can't object to it. It makes a statement. It makes El Apache think twice before trying to nutmeg him.
Beckham is not the only one with gold in his name – there's David Gold for a start – but when it comes to footballers there is a significant other. El Pibe de Oro, the Golden Boy (it sounds so much better in Spanish), is Diego Maradona.
Maradona by Kusturica, the award-winning Serbian director, was a two-hour shambolic ramble around the chaotic life of a man who is, as the film went to great lengths to illustrate, a god in Argentina. It was engrossing. So, in a different way, was Beckham on Jonathan Ross's farewell show. He was immaculately turned out, polite and appropriately bashful, with a few sweet smiles and a bit of playful joshing with Rossy thrown in.
"I could have been much more than I am," Maradona informed Kusturica as he pondered the cocaine addiction that came close to killing him. Beckham, you suspect, has made absolutely everything of what he is, on and off the pitch.
Beckham's children, he told Ross, go to bed at 7.15, 7.45 and 9pm. Dalma, one of Maradona's daughters, would shy away from her father when he tried to hug her. The contrasts between the two are obvious, yet they both live their lives in a goldfish bowl (with Beckham surrounded by a few more pilot fish). One is adored, the other carefully presented.
When Argentina returned from South Africa after an equally horrid hammering from the Germans, thousands turned out to cheer them home. Because of Maradona. In the film, wherever he went it was pandemonium. Swirling crowds with inflamed passions, handfuls of frantic cameramen and, somewhere in the middle, this small, squat, incredibly proud man.
He went back to Napoli and was mobbed. He went to Mar del Plata for a huge anti-US/George Bush rally (don't ask, it was a confusing two hours as well) and was again the focus of attention. To the supporters of his clubs – Boca and Napoli are teams from the wrong side of the tracks, while Barcelona have an anti-establishment background – he is forever a hero, a divine figure and, yet, still one of them. At one point, Maradona was on a train and a man pushed his dog against the window so the lucky animal might get a glimpse.
Beckham says he has obsessive compulsive disorder. Part of that, he explained to Ross, saw him sitting alone in a hotel room in Milan desperately trying to finish a Lego model of the Taj Mahal. Maradona spoke of the loneliness of his time as a footballer, but passing the hours with Lego was not his way of getting through it. "Actors," he said, "are given a text and they read it. I don't read it. I live it. I live my life."
After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violencefilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for beauty pageant
- 2 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 3 Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
- 4 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 5 Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'
Jeremy Clarkson 'sees no problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
Lucy, film review: Scarlett Johansson will blow your mind in Luc Besson's complex thriller
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw
Miley Cyrus concert banned on morality grounds in the Dominican Republic
Celebrity Big Brother 2014 line-up: Meet the contestants from Lauren Goodger to Kellie Maloney and Audley Harrison
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians