Diego Armando Maradona

Diego Maradona: Some of the Argentina legend's best Maradona-isms

Tom Gott
Diego Maradona was a colourful character
Diego Maradona was a colourful character / Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Diego Maradona always did everything his own way. He followed nobody's rules but his own, not even the rules of language itself.

Whenever you listened to El Pibe de Oro speak, you couldn't help but listen in awe. Whether he was flinging expletives around with reckless abandon or simply saying the things most in football were too scared to, he always had a real way with words.

To get across his messages, Maradona was never afraid to coin his own words and phrases. He'd use a mix of lunfardo (a dialect synonymous with his hometown of Buenos Aires) and some random words which just popped into his head, and as you'd expect, some of them are just as mental as you'd expect.

1. 'Vaccinate'

We all know what vaccinate means. Now more than ever, the word is everywhere.

Well, for Maradona, 'vaccinate' replaced the verb 'to f**k', in every sense of the word. Not only did it describe his bedroom antics, but he also used it when he obliterated a team on the pitch.

He probably spent a lot of the second half of 1986 talking about how he had 'vaccinated' England earlier that summer.

2. 'Thermos-head'

To say someone has a head like an insulated flask sounds like an insult in itself, but for Maradona, it had a whole other meaning.

The Argentine would use the word to describe somebody who is slow or stupid, famously throwing the insult at England goalkeeper Peter Shilton for his reaction to the Hand of God goal.

3. 'Take the Cat's Milk'

For Maradona, 'to take the cat's milk' would mean one of two things.

The term's first definition was something that 'takes the piss', in a sense that it is annoying or 'out of order'.

You could also hear Maradona saying it about something that was illegal, primarily stealing. Clearly taking milk from a cat is about as bad as it gets in Maradona's books.

4. 'Let the Tortoise Get Away'

One of the few Maradona-isms which actually does make some sense when you break it down, 'let the tortoise get away' was his way of describing someone who reacts slowly or doesn't really think.

If somebody was slow to react on the pitch or was generally just having one of those slow days, this is something you'd often here from Maradona.

5. 'Give the Dog its Face Back'

If you're the kind of person who should 'give the dog its face back', that means you haven't got the power to comment on something. You don't understand enough to talk.

You get the sense that Maradona probably had to say this to quite a lot of people during his career.

6. 'Cafe Veloz'

Back in 2010, Maradona was feuding with then chief of the Argentinian FA Julio Grondona, whom he alleged encouraged the team to take steroids back in 1993.

As part of his allegations, Maradona claimed that Grondona gave him and his team-mates 'cafe veloz' - literally 'fast coffee' - to ensure they could run for the entire 90 minutes.

Ever since he first used the term, it's become synonymous with football's battle with doping.

7. 'The Ball Doesn't Stain'

Diego Armando Maradona
Maradona at his best / Alessandro Sabattini/GettyImages

While a lot of Maradona's phrases are used to replace insults, 'the ball does not stain' is a little more heartfelt.

During a testimonial match in 2001, Maradona uttered the words 'la pelota no se mancha' as a nod to the difficulties he faced growing up, and how playing football could help anyone make it through even the worst moments in their lives.

8. 'Bronca'

'Bronca' was a mash-up of several words from both Spanish and lunfardo, which sums up how Maradona liked to speak perfectly.

This completely fictitious word, which stemmed from the Spanish term for b*****d, meant something to do with anger or resentment, and was used by Maradona to describe his feelings at missing out on Argentina's squad for the 1978 World Cup.

9. 'You Are a Pancake'

Even without knowing the meaning of this one, you can just tell that Maradona wasn't impressed with you if he called you a 'panqueque'.

He'd label someone as a pancake if they were two-faced or a liar - somebody who flip-flopped between opinions to please people.

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