It’s easy to understand why Gustavo Bou is playing with a heavy heart.
The New England Revolution forward reflected on the death of Diego Maradona on Friday during a press conference. An emotional Bou pointed to the sky Sunday after he scored the first of his two goals in New England’s 3-1 win over Orlando City in the MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference semifinal as a “simple homage” to Maradona, who died Nov. 25 at age 60. The soccer world recognizes Maradona as a legend, but Argentina, the country he famously led to victory in the 1986 FIFA World Cup, holds him in even higher esteem: as a demi-god. His death impacted Bou, who also hails from Argentina, tremendously.
“I think Diego’s death was a sad moment for everyone in the sport,” Bou said, per the Revolution. “For me, like all Argentineans, Maradona brought us a lot of joy. I didn’t see him play but my older brother was able to watch him. He told me about him. When I was little my brother would always tell me about Maradona. As I got older I watched his videos and learned his story. As a player one always aspires to be the best. Guys like Maradona and (Lionel) Messi are very important players who mean a lot to us.
“I wasn’t able to meet Maradona, (but) his death was a sad moment for me. I watched the news and I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t lucky enough to meet him but he means a lot to Argentineans and those who love football. I think that’s part of the reason why it impacted me that way.
“I was able to pay him a simple homage, just to say thanks for all that he did for Argentina, for the sport and for all that he did for young soccer players. He did beautiful things for many young players and all of Argentina. It impacted me. I was very sad. I hope he enjoyed the simple homage I dedicated to him and his family.”
Bou’s Maradona tribute was one of many that has taken place across the soccer world in recent days. Napoli, the Italian club Maradona led to Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990, renamed its stadium after him Friday.
Bou will have the chance to honor Maradona again and extend the Revolution’s improbable playoff run Sunday when they take on the Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference Final.