So who was the greatest? Was it Maradona? Or Zidane? Maradona: In the Hands of the Gods (BBC4, Monday) told the story of five British freestyle footballers travelling to Argentina to fulfil their dream of meeting "El Diego", having to raise money for the trip by showing off their keepy-uppy skills along the way.
It is a fraught journey, but one that ends in three of them being showered with kisses by the great man. If you went to meet Zidane, you'd probably just get a Glasgow kiss.
It should be said that the eldest of the five, Woody, is only 23 and was a babe in arms when the "Hand of God" shattered England's hopes at the 1986 World Cup. So the boys have no indelible rancour at Maradona's cheating tactics, only admiration for his skills and the inspiration he gives to the downtrodden. Raised in a shantytown on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, as a 12-year-old ball-boy he performed his trickery for the crowds during the half-time interval.
The boys adore him – "I've been in his presence, and he looked me in the eye," says awed Scouser Mikey. The journey becomes the story rather than their goal. Going hungry, sleeping rough, bickering and back-stabbing but becoming close friends: it's a coming-of-age road movie with a devout Christian in Jeremy, Sami the drug dealer and all points in between.
There is no doubt about Zinedine Zidane's influence over the deprived elements of French society. He grew up in the shabby suburbs of Marseilles after his parents left Algeria, and when France won the World Cup in 1998 with a team full of players of immigrant extraction, he was an icon for the disaffected poor from the banlieux.
Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (BBC4, Wednesday) is a footballing celebration without any background story. It depicts "Zizou" playing for Real Madrid against Villarreal in 2005, using a method employed by Hellmuth Costard in his 1971 film about George Best, 'Football As Never Before'. Seventeen cameras concentrate solely on Zidane. The footage is accompanied by Cantona-esque nuggets of subtitled wisdom such as "Magic is sometimes close to nothing at all" and a Mogwai soundtrack. Apart from that, all you hear above the muffled sound of the crowd is the odd "Hey" and a lot of heavy breathing – like the Gallic classic "Je t'aime".
It's a rather unsatisfying movie since there is little context in terms of the game going on around him and you can't see how he influences the play. You can see that he doesn't run around much, and that while he's a great dribbler he's not much good at spitting.
How fitting that he should be sent off just before the end in another Materazzi moment. He was given 14 red cards in his career, two more than Vinnie Jones – surely an ideal track record to appeal to all petulant teenage football fans.Reuse content