Soccer’s Diego Maradona to get Biopic From Argentina’s Telefe

Powerful Argentine broadcaster plans a super-production on the Argentine soccer star for the global market

Diego Maradona and Tomas Yankelevich
Courtesy of Telefe

Argentina’s leading TV network Telefe will bring to the screen the life of soccer legend Diego Armando Maradona in an ambitious production aimed at the global market.

One of Argentina’s greatest living heroes — with Pope Francis and Leo Messi, who have both received big-screen portraits — 55-year-old Maradona’s life is the stuff of legend and also melodrama. From rags to riches, he suffered the pressures of fame. His career could have been far more successful if it had not been for a brutal Italian defence in the 1982 World Cup and, in latter years, a battle against drug-dependency.

Maradona captained the Argentine soccer team that won the 1986 World Cup in Mexico and was a finalist in Italy four years later. He helped top clubs such as Boca Juniors in Argentina, Barcelona in Spain and Naples in Italy to national championships, scored mesmerising goals, and pulled off sleights of hand on the field – his so-called Mano de Dios goal against England – which are among the top highlights of the most popular sport in the world.

Drug use sparked suspensions , the most crucial at the 1994 World Cup. In 2000, a cocaine overdose reportedly nearly killed him, prompting him to enter rehab in Cuba.

“Every month of my life has enough for someone to write 100 chapters. Everything that I lived exceeds any fiction. I’m happy and excited that Telefe is developing this project for the world. It is the story of my life,” Maradona said in a statement.

“This is an incredible challenge as a producer to think about turning into fiction the life of the best soccer player of all time, and probably the most famous person in the world,” said Telefe contents and international business director Tomas Yankelevich.

“We think of a unprecedented super-production, and for that we are looking for partners to join us. We expect to make a global content without borders,” he added.

Telefe’s Yankelevich and Maradona (pictured) recently inked their production alliance. Large questions remain to be answered such as if , the fiction which Telefe describes will have a conventional feature structure or also incorporate some form of longer TV format.

Owned by telco giant Telefonica, Telefe has consolidated its status in recent years as one of the strongest film and TV broadcast groups in Latin America when it comes to both TV drama and also, alongside Brazil’s Globo, a broadcaster’s support for its local film production sector.

In terms of TV production, Telefe is seeing some large success in Argentina with its fictions, such as real-life inspired crime mini-series “Story of a Clan,” produced by Underground, the creators of daily comedy “Educating Nina,” a current Telefe hit.

Last year, Telefe raised the ante on its international TV production ambitions, partnering with Peruvian network America TV to co-produce family drama “The Return of Lucas,” shot in Ultra HD with 4k technology with a pan-Latin American cast.

Feature films co-produced by Telefe include the Oscar nominated “Wild Tales,” one of the biggest international B.O. hits of any foreign-language film last year, and the Academy Award winning “The Secret in Their Eyes.”

Another question about the Maradona project is what active involvement the soccer star will have in the project. Maradona was one of the first modern soccer stars to have his failings exposed to the mass media. The question many will be asking is what kind of man lies behind an unquestioned and colourful soccer genius.

John Hopewell contributed to this article.