Diego Maradona has passed away at the age of 60 and the football world has, in turn, lost a true maverick. In the wake of his passing one of the most commonly shared videos has been of Maradona dancing and ball-juggling to the tune of the Opus song ‘Live is Life’.
The video shows off Maradona’s character impeccably. Not only are his undoubted natural abilities with a football in full display, but the Napoli hero is dancing without a care in the world, demonstrating his enigmatic personality but with a ball at his feet.
So what is the story behind the Maradona dancing video?
The video many see is not actually real-time. Belgian sports reporter Frank Raes put the clip together himself of Maradona’s display in tune to the Austrian group’s song.
That is not to say it didn’t happen.
The song was popular in Germany, where the video clip originates. Maradona was dancing to the music in the pre-match warm-up for a 1989 UEFA Cup semi-final with Bayern Munich in Bavaria.
Diego Maradona warming-up for the UEFA-Cup semi-final 1989 to the song ‘Live is Life’. Only legends warm-up this way. ICONIC 👏🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/27BA5xOpdP
— World Sports ⑦ (@WorldSports__) November 25, 2020
But nobody had seen the action other than those in attendance, including Raes, who decided to put a video montage together himself to highlight the moment so fans who were not there that day could appreciate it’s magic.
“The TV viewers had not seen those images, because they were images from before the match,” Raes has told Sporza in Belgium in his own tribute to Maradona. “When I returned to Brussels I contacted the German channel ZDF. They sent a cassette and from those 12 minutes I made a montage of about 2’30”.
“Those images were broadcast in Sports Weekend and in a documentary I had made about Maradona. The editing ended up in the Netherlands and then started a trip around Europe. Later that was picked up by YouTube and the video has now reached millions of views. “
It is now considered one of the most iconic moments in Maradona’s career and one which has been shared millions of times on YouTube.
Whilst not exactly the way it happened, Raes and others insist this is a fair representation of the magic Maradona was highlighting before the UEFA Cup semi-final in 1989.
Others have disputed that. Jurgen Klinsmann suggested it happened in the final itself before Maradona inspired his Napoli side to a win over the former Tottenham Hotspur star’s Stuttgart side.
“There’s music playing, the song ‘Live is Life,’ and to the rhythm of the song Maradona started juggling the ball,” Klinsmann is quoted by Soccer America. “So we stopped our warm-up. What’s this guy doing? He’s juggling off his shoulders. And we couldn’t warm up anymore because we had to watch this guy.”
Of course, ‘Live is Life’ could very well have been played on both occasions and the end result would have, likely been the same.
Wherever the footage is from, it has now become a fitting tribute to a flawed genius who, above all else, simply loved playing the beautiful game.