Tributes to late football legend Diego Maradona have included plans to rename a stadium and a street in his honor and put his face on a banknote. Now, a giant mural has been painted in Argentina to remember the icon, who died last month.
Street artist Alfredo Segatori, 50, has painted a huge mural 20 meters high (65 feet) and 40 meters wide in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires to honor the country’s favorite son.
The mural is in the heart of the traditional Boca neighborhood that is home to the imposing Bombonera stadium where Maradona once played for domestic giants Boca Juniors.
“Now I say I have a religion, that religion is Diego. I want to believe in ‘the Diego’ — we’re proposing a little bit of fantasy, metaphor and imagination,” said Segatori.
There’s nothing new about the idea of sanctifying Maradona: Franco-Spanish musician Manu Chao wrote a song about Saint Maradona, while a group of supporters founded the Maradonian Church in 1998 with the former footballer as its godhead.
Segatori’s “Saint Diego of the Boca Neighborhood” mural shows Maradona holding up a ball from the 1986 World Cup, where he captained Argentina to victory.
“He’s special, he’s (a) patron of artists, the dispossessed and sportsmen, too. That’s sort of the connotation we want to give this project,” said the street artist.
Segatori said he had long thought about such a project, but that it was always “for later.” However, news of Maradona’s death on November 25 from a heart attack caused the artist “total sadness,” and he started painting immediately.
“We were missing a Diego here in this neighborhood,” said Segatori.
There are other murals of Maradona in Buenos Aires — such as in Villa Fiorito, the neighborhood where the star was born, or on the walls at his first club Argentinos Juniors — but not in Boca. There’s even one in Naples, where he spent seven years playing for Napoli.
In fact, Napoli have decided to rename their stadium after Maradona, who guided the club to its most successful period, winning two Serie A titles and the UEFA Cup.
It was while playing for Napoli that Maradona led his native country to glory at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
Segatori said he was “successful” in depicting Maradona with “a beautiful expression of calm and good vibes from up above.”
“Maradona always had a close relationship with artists, many bands dedicated songs to him, and in this pandemic context in which art has been hit hard by the pandemic, we needed a wink from Diego,” Segatori said.