“Just trust your instincts and go for it”, says football legend, Diego Maradona.
An idol of millions of football fans the world over, there is a lot one can learn from him and his game.
When I met him recently in Kolkata, I realised what I had learnt from him:
-Believe in yourself to see your dreams through
-Lead form the front
-Competition is a part of the game, don’t let it distract you
-Stay focused, stay sharp and stay hungry
-Keep honing your skills
Despite humble beginnings, Maradona showed promise with the ball from an early age. His focus on football got him to debut in professional soccer at the young age of 16, with his World Cup win of 1986 being the pinnacle of his achievements. His single-minded determination to excel coupled with his fearless game proved that self-belief can make you see your dreams come true, however hard the circumstances may be. Innate self-confidence in one’s abilities ensures that one does not get detracted from competition, even on an international stage. In the business world too, there are many rags to riches success stories. The bottom line is not to wallow, but have self-belief and confidence and the attitude to take on the world.
Another interesting point of note is that at 5’5” Maradona did not tower over the opposition, yet, because his physical stature gave him a low center of gravity, he could manoeuver better than most other players. He would often dribble past opposition on a run, a skill he aptly demonstrated in the quarter final of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico against, England, while scoring the second goal following a 60 m (66 yd) dribble past five England players. This goal was also, incidentally, voted "The Goal of the Century" by FIFA.com voters in 2002.
In a physically challenging contact sport like football, Maradona proved that size does not matter. The same is true for the business empire, where as long as the value proposition is correct, the intent and the desire to make a significant difference backed by relentless and unending effort will one day yield unimaginable results. The learning here is make the most of what you have got.
His battle with drug use not only impacted his playing career, overshadowing his sporting accomplishments, but also had a negative impact on his health. However, Diego rose from it all like a phoenix, taking all the controversies in his stride, and choosing to concentrate only on his innate love for the game.
As I sat conversing with him, talking about my work to my real-life hero, I felt extremely fortunate to have been able to spend some one-on-one time with him. Soft-spoken and choosing his words carefully through a translator, he was all ears.
Selecting the "best footballer ever" will always be subjective, even though FIFA, the governing body, has yearly accolades and has done some surveys to this effect, the choice invariably will always be emotional and not necessary pragmatic. In my case being such an ardent fan of Maradona I am happy to take on the supporters of Pele, Messi or Ronaldo, but heart of heart I know that each fan will have their point of view and emotions regarding their favourite players. For me, it was indeed an experience of a lifetime, meeting Diego Maradona, the football legend, face-to-face.