Napping was forbidden that afternoon. That summer, the sun was beating down in Madrid. It was the time of the day in which it was hard to keep your attention on a football match being held thousands of miles away from Spain, heat was sinking you under the couch, but some invisible authority had decreed a mandatory vigil, the vigil of those days in which History was written. Fate seemed to be announcing that something immense would happen that afternoon. I can recall that Platini and Socrates had met in the blazing fire of Jalisco, and had reached the penalties stage in another legendary duel, but the butterflies did not flutter in the stomach before the Guadalajara game as they did that afternoon in Argentina-England. We football fans have a kind of sixth sense about where the mystery elves hide, and that afternoon we went to look for them all, hidden behind the black hair curls of a genius. And there they were.
The World Cup was marching fast towards the semi-finals, as is always the case with this exciting competition that slips through our fingers as it advances to the glory of the final with an unknown master. Diego Armando Maradona had only hit the opposite goal once so far in the World Cup, against Italy in the first phase, in an acrobatic crossover shot in which he pulled out the gymnastics manual that could have been wielded by Ecaterina Szabo in her perfect floor exercise two years earlier, at the Los Angeles Games, a few hundred miles from Mexico. But his character had permeated every minute of the Argentine national team's competition, and his quality was enough to set up a goal for Valdano and Burruchaga, Burruchaga and Valdano, without his goals being needed yet. The truth was unveiled in the quarter-finals, first with a light touch of the wrist to a ball that landed after a few days in the sky of the Azteca stadium, with Shilton becoming a guest of the greatest roguery ever seen in any sporting discipline, and then with the greatest gallop of all time, the slalom of our lives, the relentless penetration of a single foreign agent in the defensive fabric of England, ten eternal seconds that were like the Beatles' Let it be: it is always playing out in some corner of the world.
On television, that rustic telly which, only a few years earlier, had painted our living rooms in a thousand colours, the Mexican coliseum shone in a thousand shades, but especially in the blue and black of the Argentinean uniform which would be immortalised by two flashes whose mythical aura now surpasses the barrier of sport and becomes part of the myth of the great moments of that gigantic smallness that humanity is.
Maradona died too soon, but his farewell was written too many years ago. Whenever his mismatches were shown on television, immediately afterwards the goal of the thousand and one dribbles, of the thousand and one tricks, of the reiterated feints, was repeated. The man who avenged the defeat in the Falklands War in the name of his country, the icon of an era of football almost without rules, although with a clear broken toy, does not die this 25th of November, but extends his sprint of that afternoon when we ran out of nap time to live the eternal dream.