BUENOS AIRES – Pizza shop owner Guillermo Rodriguez is a wandering shrine for Diego Maradona under his shirt. His entire back is covered in tattoos depicting the great football whose death last week at the age of 60 caused enormous sadness in Argentina and beyond.
“It’s nice to live with him, so he didn’t die for us, he will continue to be there for all of us, the love we have is eternal,” said Rodriguez, whose pizzeria is called “Siempre al 10” . referring to Maradona’s jersey number.
The death of Maradona highlighted the almost cultic devotion that has grown up around the player nicknamed “el dios” (or God), who was fascinated on the pitch and, despite long public fights, addictively inspired fans.
Argentina declared national mourning for him for several days and his body was in the presidential palace.
“It is very painful for a woman to give birth. For me, I felt this pain the day Maradona died. The grief is enormous, ”said Cintia Veronica, who showed Maradona tattoos on her arm in her home in Buenos Aires.
“Having that tattoo right now means feeling that he (Maradona) is alive. I feel that he is alive. “
A few days after Maradona’s death, fan Maximiliano Fernando is in a tattoo parlor in Buenos Aires, showing tattoos of the player on his arm, including pictures of Maradona in mid-crotch and another one of him holding the World Cup in the air .
“For me it’s best to have tattoos from Diego,” said Fernando, whose bedroom walls are lined with pictures and shirts of the player. “I’ll put him in the grave.”
Maradona won the 1986 World Cup with Argentina and shone for the Italian club Napoli, where he became a legend for his skills and represented Naples in the poorer south of Italy. His image still appears big on murals around the city.
In Argentina, fans even named their children after the player, including twin girls Mara and Dona.
“It’s love, it’s my great love, my passion, to have Diego (on my body) so he’s always with me everywhere. I feel like he’s protecting me, ”said Nerea Barbosa, showing photos of the star.
“When I got the tattoo, many told me no, that it wasn’t for a woman and that such a tattoo was so grotesque,” said the self-described “Maradonian” and feminist. “I say he was an idol for women too.”
Maradona’s death is likely to spark a battle for his legacy and legacy. He has about eight children from Argentina to Cuba and Italy with different paternity claims.
Nonetheless, in some ways, his wild behavior made him even more popular with followers and gave him a sense of fallibility that has ingrained him in the national psyche.
“In reality, I don’t think about what people are saying, whether he’s good or bad, or whether he’s an inspiration or not,” said Matias Disciosia with a huge tattoo of Maradona’s name and the number 10 on his back.
“Everything that has to do with Maradona is a source of inspiration for those who feel him and carry his soul.”
Devotee Luciano Zarate agreed.
“Maradona’s tattoo to me was such that I could have it with me all the time because it was my childhood,” he said. “Maradona was my childhood and youth. He is everything to me. “