In 1981, Diego Maradona produced a moment in football that would prove to be his finest ever assist. Despite it being over 35 years ago, not many, if any assists at all, have been on this level since.
For some reason, Argentina found themselves playing against Valencia which – while a fairly unusual fixture – is actually quite a novel idea. It would be good to see more national teams testing themselves against clubs.
On this day in 1981, Argentina played Valencia for some reason, and Diego Maradona produced a fairly standard assist pic.twitter.com/m2LW7T2wKc
— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) August 22, 2017
The almost pedestrian of the assist is such a joy to behold. Argentina simply give their main man the space required to operate and allow him to stroll through the defence.
Maradona reads the defence perfectly – cutting into lanes precisely, he’s multiple steps ahead of his opponents – dictating their shape, and as a result, making them look almost amateur.
To be fair to the commentator, he keeps reasonably calm throughout – very professional. Liverpool fans won’t want to imagine the same assist by Anthony Martial with commentary from Martin Tyler.
RT FootyThrowback: Diego Maradona with a magical goal for Argentina. What a Run! pic.twitter.com/2bJhzIKww5
— سبورت برس (@sportipress) July 18, 2016
Maradona’s dribbling technique is second-to-none; a master in momentum. Varying his dribbling speed at precise points before accelerating – the forward leaves defenders for dead.
The Argentine’s agility means that it’s almost impossible to time a tackle against him when he’s running directly at you – the type of player who could force an entire XI into the referee’s book.
To be fair though, by the time you’ve considered “Shall I take a booking or back off?”, Maradona has probably already gone past; masters work on instinct.
Neymar's skill too great to say he's shooting fish in barrels. But it's not this. Yet.https://t.co/A2pYJ7Ykfq
— Nick Harris (@sportingintel) August 20, 2017
There’s only one man on Maradona’s level in dribbling – and that is his fellow countryman, Lionel Messi. The technique is very similar – making defenders slow down before blitzing past them. Just like Maradona, Messi is always thinking ahead of his opponent.
“I never followed anyone in particular, but just as I was starting to be old enough to be more aware of things, Diego made his grand return to our country. If anyone inspired me, it was undoubtedly him.”
When watching Diego Maradona play, it’s likely that Argentines felt they would never produce a player of such quality again. Positively for all football fans, Messi’s emergence shows that no matter how great a player is – they can always be replaced because through inspiring others, they replace themselves.
Just as Maradona inspired Messi and thousands of others, the Barcelona legend will be inspiring the new generation. When looking at some of the goals, assists and dribbles by Argentina’s two best ever players, it’s hard not to be inspired.