Will Messi be the new Savior of the Maradonian Church?
This is the year 60 A.D. (After Diego).
"Diego of ours who is on earth,
hallowed be thy left hand,
Come to us your magic,
let your goals be remembered."
Thus begins the Lord's Prayer of the Church of Maradona, a religious cult that, despite many calling it a parody, has prayers, precepts, a Christmas of its own every Oct. 29, a "Maradonian Easter," a church in the district of La Tablada in Rosario — 300 km from Buenos Aires — and chapters with some 500,000 acolytes in countries like the United States, Spain, Italy, France and of course, Argentina.
If all worship begins with a miracle, that of the Maradonians began on October 30, 1998, when two fans of the Argentinean star, Hernán Amez and Alejandro Verón, seriously considered the legendary game Maradona played against the English in 1986 was simply something "divine." They gathered to celebrate his birthday — at that time the player was 38 years old — and affirmed that "today, God was born."
Since then, an autumnal Christmas began to be celebrated in which the faithful gathered in the early morning of Oct. 29 to toast D10 at the end of midnight and every June 22 — in honor of Maradona's goals against England — to celebrate Easter by remembering the best plays of the day of the 'English miracle.'
Among the church's 10 commandments, which every Maradonian acolyte must follow closely, some are more important than others:
"Do not proclaim Diego in the name of a single club."
"To love football above all things."
"Take Diego as a second name and give it to your son."
In Spain, the Maradonians number 15,000, and many of them still remember with pride the passage of 'Pibe' through FC Barcelona, a team with which he played from 1982 until 1984, when he left for Napoli.
Now, Naples is the Holy Land of Maradona, a place of pilgrimage, and Messi, of whom even Maradona said "is now the best player in the world" and with whom he had a great friendship. He could also become the new "messiah" of this soccer church.
It happened during Leo Messi's first official visit to Naples, when he was welcomed by the faithful of the Maradonian Church. Then, Hernán Amez, leader of the sect, proclaimed that Messi was "the living hope" of his Church and that the only thing he needed to equal Maradona in believers was "to bring the Argentine people to the streets for the happiness of a triumph," as happened after the iconic World Cup win of 1986.
Now that, according to his followers, God officially passed to immortality to live always in the glory of Argentine mythology, even Messi defends the condition of omnipotence and omniscience of Maradona. Upon learning the death of the idol, he declared on Instagram that "Diego is eternal" and that "he leaves us, but does not go away."
Will La Pulga reach the status of divinity? Can we talk about an Old and New Testament in soccer? For many footballers, if Messi finally decides to leave FC Barcelona, the trumpets of the Apocalypse will sound.