El Pájaro -who turns 56 today- and El Diez lived a friendship marked by fire that included an almost rudeness to Bilardo before Italy 1990 until an eternal kiss with the Xeneize shirt.
Yes, of people who marked the life of Diego Armando Maradona it is, without a doubt, one of them is the ex-soccer player Claudio Caniggia. The Bird -who is 56 years old today- was a tireless side of the Ten and protagonist of some of the most remembered moments in the history of the Argentine star, both with the shirt of the Argentine National Team as with that of Mouth. That friendship began, however, with a conflict with Carlos Bilardo and a firm Maradona who threatened not to play the World Cup in Italy due to a decision by the big nose.
“I’m not taking him to Caniggia”: Bilardo’s decision that almost generated a rudeness from Maradona before Italy 1990
Diego Maradona Y Claudio Caniggia They shared a team for the first time in the Albiceleste on the America’s Cup 1987. Back then, the Bird took his first steps in RiverMeanwhile he Fluff He was already world champion. Argentina finished in fourth place in that contest, with three goals from Maradona and two from Caniggia.
In 1989, they met again in the Brazil America Cup. At that height, the cani already played in Italy for the Hellas Verona and had already crossed matches with him Tenwho was active in napoli. The friendship had already been established and, for Maradona, there was no other like him Bird. Such is so He almost made a rudeness to BIlardo before the 1990 World Cup in Italy when he told him that he did not want to take the Son of the Wind to the contest.
“Bilardo told me: ‘I’m not taking Caniggia to the World Cup.’ I told him: ‘Okay, there are two of us.’ He told me ‘don’t be stupid’ and I repeated: ‘Carlos, as I told you, there are two of us. We don’t have a striker in the world like Caniggia’. He told me that he wasn’t taking care of himself, that this, that that… I told him: ‘Stop blowing up your balls, Carlos…’“Maradona narrated, years after that moment that could have left the Argentine National Team without his ace of spades in the tournament played on Italian soil.
The story, from there, is known. billard sidelined Caniggia from the debut against Cameroon and Maradona threatened not to play. However the Ten was owner, cani entered the second half but both could do little to avoid a 1-0 defeat. The front blond was after key against Brazil, with his great goal that left Claudio Taffarel sprawled on the floor, unable to do anything in the face of the speed of the Argentine
That goal, Caniggia confessed, demonstrated the unique chemistry that existed between the two: “I didn’t yell at him, I didn’t ask him because I knew he was going to see me, especially being Maradona. It doesn’t matter that he is falling. It was incredible because I saw what nobody sees“. Maradona, for his part, returned the praise: “I throw it forward and I see lightning passing by. It was Caniggia. I hit him forehand and the ball went through Ricardo Rocha’s legs, who turned me around on the run and I said from the ground ‘kick, Cani, please kick’. Later, celebrating the goal, we were dead and he, as if nothing had happened.“.
Caniggia was again key to equalize against Italy in the semifinals and force penalties, but an untimely second yellow card for a handball kept him out of the final against Germany, which ended in a 1-0 win for the Europeans.
“Diego, Diego!”: the most remembered cry with the Argentine National Team
Four years later, Maradona and Caniggia met again in a World Cup, with the United States as the stage. After the 4-0 debut against Greecearrived Nigeria. That day, Caniggia scored both goals in the Albicelestebut one of them was forever engraved in the memory of the Argentines for the desperate cry of Cani to Maradona to pass the ball to him.
There were 28 minutes into the first half and Argentina tied 1-1 with Nigeria after having started losing. The albiceleste goal had been scored by Caniggia, after a rebound from the goalkeeper Peter Ruffai consequence of a very strong auction of Gabriel Batistuta. At that moment, a free kick in favor of Argentina that did not seem to pose a greater danger for Nigeria ended up being one of the most remembered plays by Maradona and Caniggia in Argentina.
The referee charges an infraction, the Bird he grabs the ball and throws it to Maradona, annoyed by the foul. Nevertheless, As soon as he releases the ball, the shouting fest begins: “Diego! Diego!“. The television camera had barely managed to change the shot when Caniggia had already received the ball in front of a distracted Nigerian defence. The result? Open foot of the Argentine and goal for the Selection of Alfio Basile. nobody knew, but that would be the last time that Diego Maradona and Claudio Caniggia shared minutes with the Argentine National Team.
Reunion in Boca, with pick included
On July 14, 1996, Mouth beat River 4-1 at La Bombonera. However, this bulky result is anecdotal since that game is more remembered for the kiss between Maradona and Caniggia than for the triumph of xeneize.
The Bird had landed in Mouth to meet him again Ten and it was his turn to face his former team. He dispatched with three goals, but it was not one of those who caught everyone’s attention and stole the covers of the newspapers. “If Cani scores a goal, I give him a peck“, shot the Fluff before the match. And 43 minutes into the first half, Maradona gave a pass to Caniggia, who turned inside the area and sent a cross that José Basualdo headed in to mark the opening of the result.
It was at that moment that the Bird and the Fluff They pointed to each other with open arms and, at the moment of the hug, they melted into a kiss during the celebrations for the partial victory. “Diego gives better passes-goals than spikes“, Caniggia joked later, referring to the historic photo between the two. Many found it funny, except for Mariana Nanniswho was then the wife of Bird:”I found it humiliating. I was living in Italy and I had small children, I went to a bar and I saw how my husband was eating Maradona’s mouth and all the Italians talking about it. For me it was a humiliation“.
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Alliance in Italy ’90, peak in Boca and “Give it to me, Diego”: Caniggia and Maradona, more than a friendship