Pelusa surprised with a cigar and sunglasses in his debut with Iceland.  REUTERS/Carl Recine
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Despite the meager performance of the Argentine National Team during the Russia World Cup 2018that maximum event had a seasoning that made it special: it was the last event of that caliber that Diego Armando Maradona could see live and direct.

Even in the midst of the Albiceleste’s odyssey to reach the round of 16, Pelusa was the protagonist of an iconic photo that even became a meme. Two years ago he started the best of all time, but his legacy is still intact.

The Photo of the Year: a start suffered with Diego from the stands

After that magical night in which Lionel Messi scored three goals against Ecuadorin the South American Qualifiers, to give the national team a ticket to the highest competition, Maradona he promised to attend all the matches of the World Cup. The draw placed the selected player in the group with Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria, an area that allowed us to dream of qualifying for the next phase. He got it, but with suffering.

Pelusa surprised with a cigar and sunglasses in his debut with Iceland. REUTERS/Carl RecineBy: CARL RECINE | REUTERS

In the first duel, and with Diego suffering from the stands, Leo Messi missed a penalty and the team led by Jorge Sampaoli did not go from 1-1 against Iceland. Wearing sunglasses and a giant cigar, Maradona witnessed the entire dispute in Moscow and gave the DT some advice.

“Argentina has to take its path, its own. I love Pavón and I think that in midfield he also has to make variations. With all the pain in the world, because he is my grandson’s father, I think Kun is not here for 90 minutesDiego opined.

Also read: Historical photos: the five children of Diego Maradona were shown together for the first time in Italy

After the unexpected setback in the first light blue and white presentation, the Baltics gave the team another bucket of cold water: It was 0-3 against a team without ideas, with little collective construction and weak individual performances. Fluff decided not to make statements and he limited himself to crying in the box of Nizhny Novgorod when Ivan Rakitic sentenced the result. The Albiceleste had no choice but to beat Nigeria on the last day and hope that Iceland did not add three.

The Photo of the Year: the sun pointed to Diego Maradona

In that game for the heart attack one of the most remembered postcards of that World Cup was produced, which some called as “Photo of the Year”. With rumors of a break between the squad and the coaching staff and a double command to define the 11 starters, the team’s leaders took to the field; Leo Messi, after 14 minutes and, after a millimeter pass from Éver Banega, controlled the ball with his left foot and defined the cross with his right foot to score the first goal. Maradona was elated.

Content by various people around you, Diego shouted the goal with soul and life and opened his arms thanking heaven. Curiously, on that cloudy day in Saint Petersburga glimmer of sun only managed to point to the figure of the legend, to the surprise of all present. The image of Maradona with the blue Puma brand shirt and the historic celebration was transformed, over time, in the flesh of meme for social networks.

Maradona was present in all the matches of the Argentine National Team in Russia.  (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Maradona was present in all the matches of the Argentine National Team in Russia. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)By: Petr David Josek | PA

Victor Moses, averaging the second half, caused anxiety in all the country’s houses by reaching a tie and leaving Argentina on the brink of elimination. Nevertheless, Marcos Rojo made it 2-1 in an agonizing way and the national team went to the round of 16 as second in the group. Over there, France would end the hopes of Leo and company and would win 4-3.

Lionel Messi converted the first goal of the agonizing 2-1 victory over Nigeria.

In the post-match against the Nigerians, a rumor installed via Twitter had caused panic: multiple users had echoed the supposed news that the player who emerged from Argentinos Juniors had died. In any case, it soon became known that he had suffered a decompensation after the game and that he had to receive a serum, but that he was able to continue his journey through Russia. The sad news of the death of Diego Maradona came just over two years later, on November 25, 2020, when the heart of the best of all stopped beating.

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