On Diego Maradona’s birthday, here’s where some of the ‘new Maradonas’ are now
The original turns 53 today (Happy Birthday Diego!) but how did all the men who came after him fare. We went and found out.
We are very familiar now with the phenomenon of the 'new X’. Rarely a day goes by without some youngster being declared the new Roy Keane or Cristiano Ronaldo but the man who started it all was Diego Maradona.
From the time he arrived in Europe from Boca Juniors in 1982, Argentina, and the world, became obsessed with finding the ‘new Maradona’. You could argue he has finally been found in the shape of Lionel Messi but until then, there were an awful lot of false dawns. Here’s how some of them panned out.
The original ‘new Maradona’, Latorre scored on his Boca Juniors debut in 1987 and eventually worked his way into the national team and earned himself a move to Italy, with Fiorentina in 1992. He played just two games for the Viola, though, before moving to Spain, and eventually back to Boca in 1996.
Spells at eight more clubs followed before he retired in 2006, with six caps for his country.
One of the gold standard ‘new Maradonas’. After making his name as a kid with River Plate, Ortega moved to Europe where he enjoyed relatively short stays at Valencia, Sampdoria and Parma in the late 1990s. A brilliant dribbler and dead-ball specialist, the little fella was a massive star in Argentina, playing in three World Cups and earning 87 caps, the last of which came in 2010, when Maradona himself called him up after a seven-year gap in caps. He is probably the best No 10 Argentina have had in the years between Maradona and Messi
Last seen playing for Union San Felipe in Chile last year here’s the best of El Buritto…
Yes, this ‘new Maradona’ once played for Portsmouth but for the last five years he has been a star for Internacional in Brazil.
He first came to attention at River Plate before moving to Wolfsburg in 2003. His move to Harry Redknapp’s strugglers Portsmouth was a surprise but he was a hit with his trickery, and this goal was an absolute beauty.
Pompey stayed up but they couldn’t keep D’Alessandro, who went to Spain before his move to Brazil. At 32, he has 28 caps for Argentina, but we don’t think he’ll be picking up many more.
It is a bit harsh to call any player who played for Real Madrid and Barcelona a bit of a flop but he never quite hit the heights that Maradona did. Yet another River Plate product, he was a wonderful talent but he never managed to nail down a key role at Barcelona for six years from 2001 to 2007.
A few loan moves saw him bounce around before he was picked up by real, but he was limited there in his two seasons, playing just 17 times, and after a successful three-year stint at Benfica, he is still plying his trade, at 31, for Olympiacos.
Just one World Cup finals, and an Olympic gold medal in 2004, seems a paltry international return but he did retire from international football aged just 28 in 2009.
Another player who lit up Champions League nights in the early 2000s and with his nationality, small stature and skill set, he too was dubbed ‘new Maradona’. An attacking midfielder, it was at Valencia and Benfica that Aimar shone, with a brief spell at Zaragoza in between.
He led Valencia to a La Liga title, and a Champions League final and he picked up a few more trophies at Benfica from 2008 until this year.
In the summer he moved to Johor Darul Takzim in the Malaysian Super League and the 33-year old will debut for his new side when the season kicks off soon.
The freshest ‘new Maradona’ (he just missed the 'new Messi' tag), Zarate is just 26 but he probably won’t hit the level that other little Diegos like Carlos Tevez or Sergio Aguero have so far managed in their careers
Zarate didn’t follow the normal route from his home country, joining Al-Sadd in Qatar in 2007 before going on loan to Birmingham City in 2008. He ended up at Lazio, and did quite well in two spells in Rome but he is now back home with Velez Sarsfield.
Yet to pick up a senior cap, Mauro has a long way to go to match the legend that is Diego Armando Maradona.
In fairness, who does?