KOZHIKODE: 53-year-old CTK Musthafa, of Nainaamvalappu here, is among the countless fans of Diego Maradona. And Musthafa’s fanboy story is each of theirs as well. Cut to the 1980s, and life was full of misery and hardship. Belonging to an impoverished coastal family, an adolescent Musthafa didn’t have much to cheer for. The sea was the sole source of livelihood, and attraction, before falling head over heels in love with the symphony of football.
“Football was the passion that kept many of us going. As kids, we ate, drank and slept football, so to say. And Maradona and his team in striped blue and white jerseys occupied the top slot,” reminisced Musthafa. The walls of the thatched house of a teenaged Musthafa were adorned with pictures of Maradona, in varied forms. And the five-feet, five-inch tall Argentine legend became more than a family member.
“Watching the World Cup on TV at home was a luxury. We would either set off to a recreation club of the Railways staff, known as the ‘Institute’, near the Kozhikode railway station or to the house of A T Moyeen, a neighbour. There would be conditions laid down before us, like not to make noise or quarrel over the game,” recalled Musthafa.
Back then, the sevens’ football tournaments were yet to be a fad and the only way out for youngsters was to play matches. They split up into two sides, made a bet for Rs 51 or Rs 101 before hitting the football ground. Youngsters ran behind the ball almost round-the-clock in the playgrounds of Nainaamvalappu, Mukhadar and Chakkumkadavu.
‘1986 goal left us crazy’
Maradona being such a gifted player was the reason for the craze towards him, Musthafa said. “We didn’t get to watch Pele play. Maradona’s goal of the century against England in the 1986 World Cup was pure art,” he beamed.
Musthafa later went to the Gulf to eke out a living. Returning after 18 years, he became the senior vice-president of the Nainaamvalappu Football Fans’ Association (NFFA), which hogged limelight for its passion for the game. Now selling fish at Nainaamvalappu, Musthafa continues to catch up with the latest in football.
“I felt devastated after learning about the death of Maradona. Looking back, I feel deeply indebted to him because he did not merely entertain us but keep us afloat in life,” Musthafa said, glancing up into the sky.