Diego Maradona He played his last World Cup in 1994, a tournament for which he prepared in a special way and for which he joined Newell’s Old Boys. That tournament of the Argentine star was marked by his final, having tested positive in the anti-doping control carried out after the victory against Nigeria on the second date of the group stage. But, before his legs were cut off, as he himself explained, the Ten had two sensational performances, against the African team and against Greece, at debut. That match against the Europeans was refereed by the Mexican Arthur Angeleswho in dialogue with Infobae He remembered that match.
With vast experience in international tournaments, such as the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, the 1993 Copa América and the 1989 Youth World Cup, the judge was selected to be part of the list of referees who would dispense justice at the tournament to be played in North America. There he was designated for the duel between the Argentine team led by Alfio Coco Basil and the Greek combo.
A soccer fan, Angeles recalled the anxiety he felt before leaving for Foxboro Stadium in Massachusetts, where more than 50,000 people expected to see Maradona, who was in the twilight of his career but aroused the illusion of the Albiceleste public to be crowned again. as world champion as had happened in Mexico 86. “The emotion goes inside, because one likes soccer and as a human being, in the end, you like what happens because you want the sport you like the most to succeed” he explained.
The Mexican was facing a crucial test in his career and opted to apply the same arbitration method that had taken him there: “It is important to have a good dialogue with the player and it must be understood that players have emotions and different characters. Always respecting everyone so that they respect you. I’m not saying to become friends with the player, but to create a good atmosphere, that’s the job of the referee so that the players respect him and there is a good relationship”.
For that commitment he had to stand before stars like Maradona, Claudio Paul Caniggia, Oscar Ruggeri, Fernando Redondo and Gabriel Batistuta, among other figures of the Argentine national team: “One studies the players in their way of playing, reading everything that is said, because you must have a soccer culture. You can’t get there without knowing. You have to understand the player.”
“Maradona was coming from various difficult circumstances and was returning to a world stage and I knew that (the Greek players) were going to try to stop him because of his quality, his charisma, leadership and everything, so he was a player to watch out for.. Whatever they say, there are players who must be careful because they are the ones who generate plays like magic, they are players who do things that make you say ‘wow!’, because not everyone has that magic. The magic that Maradona had, not everyone has”.
In that game, Basile’s team shone on the field and won 4-0 with three goals from Batistuta and another from Maradona, after a great collective action involving Bati already round. At that time no one imagined that this would be the last goal he would score with the blue and white.
During the 90 minutes, the referee had the opportunity to exchange a few words with the star, who seemed annoyed at receiving too many infractions: “Suddenly Diego dropped me and I told him: ‘Diego, these people who are here are the world that is hungry to see you as you were in Mexico.’ That was true, because people remembered Maradona from 1986 and due to the circumstances that we all know, he came with physical discomfort, but he played the best he could”. Regarding that brief dialogue, he added: “With Diego the moment was lent, I wanted to motivate him to demonstrate his magic. That was my idea, that he could play the best he could and I was going to protect him”.
With the captain’s ribbon and the 10 on his back, Maradona shone in that duel and Ángeles remembers it with pride: “I had to referee it when I was in the under-20 team, during a tour of Argentina. I saw him fully and in his last game of him as what he was”.
After the 2-1 win against Nigeria on the second date, the former footballer who died in November 2020 was taken to the doping control room and a positive for pseudoephedrine ruled him out of the rest of the competition. “I found out faster than the people because before the game started we already knew that Maradona had been drawn. One through the circles in there already finds out what is happening. Before the press found out, in Dallas (where the referees were concentrated) we already knew that Diego had tested positive”.
The 68-year-old Mexican who currently resides in Los Angeles laments when talking about that episode that stained Maradona’s career: “It was sad because at the end of the day football needs players like him. Football needs players like Messi, Pelé, Maradona, Ronaldo… Because as fans we like to see the kind of plays that only they create. Every team, every country needs a soccer idol and that idol must show himself well because he is an example”.
the dream of the Argentina of Basil it was cut short in the round of 16 of that contest. Now without Maradona and emotionally beaten, the Albiceleste closed his participation in his area with a 2-0 fall with Bulgaria for goals from Hristo Stoichkov and Nasko Sirakov. In the next instance, he succumbed 3-2 against Romania: Batistuta, from a penalty, and Abel Balbo shouted for Argentina, while Ilie Dumitrescu, twice, and Gheorghe Hagi converted for the Europeans.
In his career, the former international judge had the opportunity to run into great figures on the field: “I had the opportunity to see Pelé, he was one of those who most dazzled me. But also Maradona, Batistuta, Caniggia, Roberto Carlos, Cuauhtémoc Blanco, very lively players. Worldwide, without a doubt Maradona and Pelé. Messi too, but I didn’t have to referee him.”
Although he also keeps in his memory a space for an Argentine defender: “Oscar Ruggeri He was a player who was always strong, he was a true leader on the pitch. He spoke in the sense of leadership, of giving encouragement to his teammates, a guarantee as a player and a true leader. He was very lively to play, you had to understand him to give him the freedom to express himself footballingly, but that he did not exceed the limits of the rules. That’s what one was trying to do.”
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