I’m not sure why I watched the docuseries La Hija de Dios. I had resolved not to watch any more Diego Maradona films, and I was also put off by the title —The Daughter of God. But the 3-episode series popped up on HBO Max, and it was short, just 138 minutes total. So I ventured in.
It turns out that the series is an excellent production, well edited, with football videos I had not seen before. Diego’s eldest daughter Dalma Maradona is a good presenter. She seems to charm her interviewees, who are all former players, associates, journalists, fans, or friends of Diego and who probably haven’t seen her in 30 years. Dalma tears up on almost every interview, which conveys the message that she truly loves her father and values these conversations about him. Her sincerity stops you from simply dismissing this show as just a child trying to leverage a parent’s celebrity.
The show is however, clearly intended to clean up Diego Maradona’s image. We see him as a present, loving father and Dalma as a precocious toddler. The series covers the poverty of his early life and how he grew up, then it moves on to Napoli, and then to Marisol, where he serves out his ban from soccer. Finally, episode 3 covers his attempt to get into shape for WC 1994 while suffering withdrawal from his addiction to cocaine.
The series shows us the many memorials and street art that celebrate him, particularly in Napoli. We see how loved he remains, more than 30 years after playing.
The videos of Diego’s juggling talents and his physique are illuminating. Several people talk about his incredible neuro-muscular physiology, such as that he had the peripheral vision of a fighter pilot. It is pretty amazing to watch him toss a ball from his foot to his head and start juggling it without even looking. In his bathing suit in Marisol, even though he is 20-30 pounds overweight, you can see his thighs are gigantic for his body.
In an interview, his former trainer Fernando Signorini claims that during WC 1994, Diego’s doctor had him on all kinds of pills. He blames this for Diego’s failing a drug test for ephedrine. But Signorini says that the drug test was supposed to be thrown out because it violated protocol by testing for specific substances. However, he claims that federation president Julio Grondana made the decision to remove Diego from the NT and send him home. Following this decision, Grondana became a FIFA Senior Vice President and chair of its Finance Committee, which Signorini implies was a reward for tossing Diego.
Angel di Maria has an interview where he describes how Diego supported him and kept playing him in WC 2010 despite media criticism. He says he prayed to Diego before the WC 2022 final.
Dalma wrote both a book and a play about being Diego’s daughter. In some ways, this production reminds me of the film on Dennis Viollet, where the writer-director painted a no-flaws film about her father, a ManU player. Similarly, Dalma paints a loving version of her father but leaves out any mention of his many illegitimate children. His addiction is Napoli’s fault, and even his death, she says, is the fault of his doctors.
Looking at all the Maradona films I have watched, I suppose it’s okay to have one that avoids Diego’s flaws. In a way, it’s a what-might-have-been had he not been adversely affected by his celebrity and his weaknesses. But except for the video clips of Diego’s talents, it feels like 25% of the series is home movies and filling in the blanks for a precocious toddler now grown up. Maybe only a dedicated Maradona fan could be enthusiastic about this series.
6 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 6