A new movie chronicling the life of controversial football icon Diego Maradona is to have its UK premiere in Sheffield.
The documentary about the Argentine star will kick off this year’s Sheffield Doc/Fest – and provides a fascinating insight into the footballer who once nearly signed for Sheffield United and who is best remembered for his infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal against England at the 1986 World Cup.
It will be the UK premiere of the film from the Academy Award and BAFTA-winning team behind Amy and Senna, created from over 500 hours of footage from Maradona’s personal archive.
The screening plus a Q&A with director Asif Kapadia will take place on June 6 at Sheffield City Hall.
The film, simply titled Diego Maradona, is a wild and irreverent look at one of the world’s most iconic sportsmen, both on and off the pitch, during his infamous time in Naples.
A publicity statement for the film said: “Having never won a major tournament, SSC Napoli had always underachieved.
“But when Diego Maradona arrived in 1984, all hell broke loose. Maradona was blessed on the field but cursed off it, by performing miracles on the pitch he could do as he pleased but when the magic faded, he became a prisoner of the criminal city of Naples.
“In a city where the devil would have needed bodyguards, Maradona became bigger than God himself. This is the unforgettable story of a natural-born talent, glory, despair and betrayal, of corruption and ultimately redemption.”
Luke W Moody, director of film programming for Sheffield Doc/Fest said: “Asif’s aptitude for finding the personal face behind troubled brilliance shines through in immersive, never-seen-before archive footage.
“We’re proud to present the UK premiere of Diego Maradona as our opening of the 2019 festival. ”
Asif Kapadia said: “I’m incredibly proud and honoured that Diego Maradona will have its UK premiere as the opening film at Sheffield Doc/Fest.
“After three long, hard years making the film, my producers, crew and I are really excited to finally present the film to the UK audience. Those with long (football related) memories will recall that Diego almost signed for Sheffield United in the late 70’s, the deal fell through, (over money), so on June 6, 2019. Diego Maradona will finally make his long awaited debut in Sheffield!
Maradona’s potential move to Bramall Lane stretches back to the summer of 1978.
Back in the late 70s, then United boss Harry Haslam was ahead of the game in looking for players to bolster his team, casting his sights abroad in the search for talent.
It was while on a scouting mission in Argentina that Haslam eyed a talented 17-year-old by the name of Diego Maradona.
He was so impressed by the short, dark-haired lad's silky skills that he negotiated a £200,000 deal there and then.
But when Argentinos Juniors demanded more money, the Blades board refused to sanction it and bought Maradona's compatriot Alejandro Sabella, better known as Alex, instead.
Sabella spent a couple of years in South Yorkshire and proved popular with United fans while Maradona of course went on to fame and infamy, his Hand Of God goal against England in 1986, followed by his stunning solo effort in the same game before eventually lifting the World Cup with Argentina that year catapulting him to legend status and making him one of the world's greatest ever players.
Hamish Moseley, Head of Distribution, Altitude Films said: “Once again Asif has crafted a powerful, surprising and gripping story about an icon who we, and the rest of the world, already thought we knew everything about.Altitude is very excited to bring Diego Maradona to cinemas this summer and are delighted to be premiering the film at Sheffield Doc/Fest.
Doors open at 6pm and the film starts at 6.45pm. Tickets are £12 and £10.