Golden Ball award should be renamed in Maradona's honour, says ex-team-mate Pumpido

By Sports Desk November 25, 2022 679

The FIFA World Cup Golden Ball award should be renamed in Diego Maradona's honour, according to ex-Argentina team-mate Nery Pumpido.

The former Argentina captain, who won the award after leading his country to World Cup glory in 1986, was remembered at an event to mark the second anniversary of his death.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said Maradona should be remembered at each subsequent tournament with a day of celebration for his significant impact on football.

Pumpido - goalkeeper of the victorious side in Mexico 36 years ago - believes his former team-mate could be honoured with a subsequent renaming of the Golden Ball, awarded to the best player at every World Cup Finals.

"It would be great if the award for the best player of the World Cup was renamed Diego Armando Maradona," he said. "It's a good idea."

Pumpido was one of many former Argentina players in attendance. Among them were 1978 World Cup-winning goalkeeper Ubaldo Fillol, who felt "a tremendous source of pride" at honouring Maradona.

Meanwhile Jorge Valdano - the scorer of La Albiceleste's second goal in their 1986 final win over West Germany - fondly remembers his former captain's impact on the tournament in Mexico.

That included his inspirational display against England in the quarter-finals - the infamous 'Hand of God' goal accompanied by one of the greatest individual efforts in history.

"Like the great maestros of painting, he made sketches during the [1986] World Cup," Valdano said. "I remember the game against Uruguay in the round of 16, where Diego was unstoppable,

"I thought that it was impossible to play better than what Diego played that day, but no, that was just a sketch for his definitive work and like all maestros, he chose the right day, the right opponent, the right place for his work - against England.

"[Against England] he completed his most wonderful work that took him to another place. From that day, he became a hero, he became a legend, he became a symbol and that is why we are here.

"He did nothing more than elevate the Argentine national team and also world football. I propose that, despite the fact that the remembrance is necessarily sad, to remember him with joy. 

"If Diego has left us something, it is a debt of happiness and gratitude. I am very happy that he is still so present in all of us as this extraordinary call shows."

Argentina's latest quest for a third World Cup title - and what could be Lionel Messi's final shot at glory - began with a shock 2-1 defeat by Saudi Arabia in Group C, from which they will seek a response against Mexico on Saturday.

The ultimate prize in football is the only one missing from Messi's well-stocked cabinet after an astonishing career, but former midfielder Daniel Bertoni, who lifted the trophy in 1978, insists the Paris Saint-Germain forward needs help in his mission.

"Messi's legacy? He has to be a champion," he said. "It's not an obligation, the World Cup is not won by one player alone.

"Messi is the ace of spades, you have to put the other cards around him, I think he has to be accompanied by the team."

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Last modified on Friday, 25 November 2022 13:27
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