The death of Argentine football great Diego Maradona prompted scenes of mourning around the world, and Namibians alike have joined in paying tributes to one of the greatest footballers of all time.
The 1986 World Cup winner, a national hero in his home country and global icon who used football as a tool to bring attention to pressing social and political issues, died on Wednesday at the age of 60 following a heart attack.
Brave Warriors assistant coach and one of Namibia’s football greats Robert Nauseb was among the first to pay tribute to Maradona, saying the departed Argentine legend lived for football and his entire life was dedicated to the growth of world football, not just in his country.
“Despite the everyday politics around Maradona, that man was a legend and indirectly impacted the careers of many football stars of today. I got to know him through football and I got to love him as a footballer, and his positive impact on the growth of world football is unquestionable. It’s really a sad moment for world football but as I said, he immensely contributed to the game and maybe it was time for him to rest. He is indeed an icon and he was bigger than just football,” said Nauseb, a Kaizer Chiefs legend and former member of the pioneering Brave Warriors class of 1998.
Former Brave Warriors gaffer Ricardo Mannetti also paid homage to the Argentine legend, saying Maradona brought something special to the field that most modern players don’t have and that was his charisma.
“I think beyond his unmatched skills and talent as a footballer, I think the one thing that made Maradona stand out from the rest was his charisma and that is something I hardly see in today’s players. The way Maradona would celebrate his goals, his puns on and off the field and just his ability to relate to people worldwide was amazing. He brought a new dimension to Argentinian football and also went on to change the way Italian football was perceived those years. If you look at a star player like Messi for instance, he is highly gifted, has scored tons of goals and has broken all kinds of records but there is one thing that you can’t compare to the legendary Maradona, it’s charisma. Maradona was more than just a footballer, he was a global icon and his career transcended many boundaries of life. His passing is really sad news and world football has lost big time,” said the 2015 Cosafa Cup winning coach.