Back in 1982, the late, great Diego Maradona wowed 25,000 at the Merdeka Stadium in a friendly match between Selangor Invitation and Boca Juniors.
Football fans all over the world are mourning the passing of one of its greatest talents; Argentinian World Cup winner Diego Maradona on 25 November 2020.
The star who was famous for his goal-scoring exploits for his country as well as for Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli reportedly died at the age of 60 after suffering a heart attack at his home in Tigre, Buenos Aires.
Buenos Aires gathers to celebrate the life of Diego Maradona 🇦🇷
— Goal Asia (@Goal_Asia_) November 26, 2020
Many in the footballing world remember him fondly for his prowess as well as for his antics, and Malaysia too has witnessed his magic, when he was a budding star at Argentinian champions Boca Juniors, all the way back in 1982.
As a part of their anniversary celebration, then Malaysian giants Selangor arranged a number of friendly matches against international clubs such as Switzerland‘s Young Boys and Grasshoppers FC, Japan‘s Matsushita FC, and Boca Juniors.
The Argentinian side were at the time travelling abroad for their own series of friendly matches, having recently won their 20th Metropolitano Argentine Primera División title. Maradona meanwhile was only a rising star who had just joined them the year before, although he had made his national team debut back in 1977. Also in tow was the likes of Uruguay international Ariel Krasouski and Argentina defender Oscar Ruggeri.
The encounter between the Selangor Invitation side and Boca Juniors was played at the Merdeka Stadium on 12 February 1982.
The Red Giants meanwhile featured their own stars R. Arumugam, Mokhtar Dahari, Santokh Singh, as well as invitational players such as Malaysia legend Soh Chin Ann, Thai star Piyapong Pue-on Singapore and future Singapore legend Fandi Ahmad, who received a temporary leave from his country’s National Service to play in the friendly.
The inclusion of Fandi proved to be astute, when he opened the scoring in the match just three minutes in. He connected with Jamaluddin Norbit’s corner kick using his head to score past goalkeeper Carlos Alberto Rodriguez, sending the 25,000 home crowd into elation.
The fans present could have been forgiven for thinking that the home team may just come away with a surprise win, judging from Selangor’s dominance in the first 15 minutes. According to a report, Selangor were reportedly promised a return fixture in Argentina if they managed to produce a win against the favourites.
But then the Golden Kid turned his magic on.
In the 18th minute, he sent Carlos Cordoba through with a pass which the defender finished with an accurate drive, for the equaliser.
Just before the hour mark, Maradona took a more direct involvement to score the winner, beating Arumugam in a one-on-one situation.
Footage of the goal can be seen here:
The match ended in a 2-1 win to the visitors, and Maradona and co. soon flew off to Japan for their next friendlies.
It was perhaps just another friendly encounter for the Argentines, but Malaysian fans remember that match fondly for the fact that it featured not only the future star and World Cup winner, but also Malaysia’s own goal-scoring legend and one of the best Asian strikers at the time, Mokhtar Dahari. Their photo together, taken during the pre-kickoff pennants exchange, is still famous to this day, and even more so today after news of Maradona’s passing broke.
Just months after the encounter, the future legend would secure a move to Europe, signing for Spanish giants Barcelona, en route to attaining his 1986 World Cup title, more accolades and his legendary status.
His passing will be mourned by football fans all over the world, young and old, even those in Malaysia.