Diego Maradona. Unparalleled football phenomenon, brash and brilliant. Propelled onto the world stage at an early age, discovered at the age of eight in a poor Buenos Aires suburb, already supporting his family as a teenager. After a few years with Barcelona, he headed for Naples where he shot to absolute stardom, hurtling SSC Napoli single-handedly (it sometimes seemed) into the soccer stratosphere, the pride of a hard-knock city roundly scorned at the time in Italy. But all football fates change, so too appreciation. Maradona remains world renowned, less and less for football, more and more for his antics and ill health, however chemically enhanced. Luckily though this documentary excels at showing off his prodigious skill on the pitch, stunningly edited to somehow almost explain his prowess. (After God’s intervention in that World Cup quarter final in 1986, from halfway across the field he subsequently whirls like a dervish through five defenders to score again.)

Maradona himself felt British director Asif Kapadia should document his life, when the latter’s poignant documentary Amy (2015) won an Oscar, follow-up film to his first sports doc feature Senna, released in 2010. The fútbol player writ large initially worked along, always a great storyteller, apparently, later changing his mind, pitting, as the movie purports, the winning young Diego, in the one corner, against indomitable, unapproachable Maradona in the other, yet both certainly him. According to Kapadia, who said he never grew to like him like he had grown to love Senna and Winehouse while engrossed in their lives, Maradona remains charismatic yet as unpredictable as ever in his impact, his joy infectious, his displeasure unnerving.

Maradona did not show up for the opening night, claiming to be unwilling to be called a hustler or estafador. The posters’ tagline ‘Rebel. Hero. Hustler. God’ or ‘Rebelde. Héroe. Estafador. Dios’. But hustle he did in his Neapolitan years, which this pleasantly hectic movie more or less revolves around. Naples shines in a strong supporting role, with the Camorra the requisite dastardly villains. The tale is intriguing and gripping, sometimes sad, sometimes disheartening. Mercurial as Maradona, travelling the world since youth, never at home anywhere. Perhaps the truth is in the telling – this magnificent cinematic presentation – of how a will to win at all costs led to some of the most spellbinding displays ever documented of utter command of the ball. Rightfully arrogant, joyous, casual and nonchalant, driven.

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Diego Maradona (2019): Official Trailer | HBO