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Forget Batman and Spiderman: “Superhero” Maradona was Aimar’s idol growing up

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Instead of capes or masks, the shirts of the late Naples and Argentina legend were what Aimar and his childhood friends coveted most

Former Valencia, River Plate and Argentina star Pablo Aimar has revealed he hardly needed comics growing up – because his “superhero” Diego Maradona was already the real deal.

Aimar, 41, briefly came under the wing of the Argentine football legend, who died in November, when the latter was head of the national team from 2008 to 2010.

The ex-playmaker’s childhood in the 1980s coincided with Diego’s heyday as a player, featuring players like Boca Juniors, Napoli and Argentina and winning the 1986 World Cup with the Albiceleste.

Now a coach himself with Argentina’s Under-17s, Aimar admits that for his generation, the idol was as special as any fantasy character.

“He was the biggest influence for those of us who were born in the 70s and 80s,” Aimar wrote in an article published in The voice of coaches.

“At that point the superheroes were already there: you had Spiderman, Batman and others, but we all wanted to be Maradona instead of those other superheroes.

“We pretended we were Maradona and we aspired to be the guy who was present at the Mexico World Cup in 1986, singing the national anthem and then at the World Cup in Italy 1990, insulting those who were laughing. of our hymn. It was Maradona for us.

“There will always be someone who doesn’t care about him, but for a lot of us he was who we wanted to be. Our families bought his boots and shirt for us, not the Spiderman costume. ”

Like Aimar, current Albiceleste ace Lionel Messi has had to face the specter of Maradona’s enormous reputation in his home country.

Messi has publicly stated that Aimar is his personal hero growing up, and the now-retired star is equally generous with his praise to the Barcelona wizard.

“Football accepts all opinions, which is what makes it so popular. That, and because it has so much to do with chance, ”Aimar continued.

“So when a guy comes in who breaks down all the chance, that’s what happened with Lionel Messi, when he plays we all think Barcelona are going to win.

“He has exhausted all possible superlatives; over the past 15 years he has done exactly what he had to do.

“No one wonders or considers that he plays between 60 and 70 games every year. He knows he will play it and he’s the best 99% of the time. There is therefore nothing more to analyze. All of us who have played at some level stay out of the discussion of how many yards per game it covers. ”