The Fan


© Susan Spaulding

“And here you go. My pride and joy, so to speak. Signed shirt from the great man himself.” Andrew Cullen puffed up his chest as he showed his friend Tommy Cabrera his trophy room. “Diego Maradona. Best footballer ever. Your American mates call what you have football, but this is the real deal.”

“I wasn’t always an American, Andrew, and I know what real football is.”

“Oh yeah. Sorry about that. You emigrated to the States from Argentina, right?”

“Yes.” Tomás and Andrew met online at a fiction writers forum five years prior and hit it off. Now Cabrera was visiting his friend in Swords, outside of Greater Dublin, while on a promotional tour. His fictionalized autobiography had become a runaway bestseller, and he had personal appearances scheduled for all over the UK and Europe.

“Anything the matter? You’ve gone awfully silent.”

“Just remembering, Andrew.” Tomás didn’t give voice to the memory of growing up in a totalitarian socialist regime, nor how Diego Maradona had unswervingly supported the communist dictators who had crushed the souls of his family, and nearly killed him. “Sorry. I can’t say I’m much of a fan.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for 15 July 2018. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 191.

Being an American, I don’t know much about the World Cup, and in fact, I don’t follow sports even in my own country. I had to look up Diego Maradona and discovered he has a colorful history. I chose to focus on his political views and found out he supports a number of socialist dictators, including Carlos Menem, Fidel Castro, and Hugo Chávez. No, I’m not much of a fan, either.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit

13 thoughts on “The Fan

  1. Good story, James. Unfortunately, the politics of the United States is leaving a bad taste in the mouth of the rest of the world. I wonder how that will play out in the sports world?


  2. I’m a lifelong sports fan, and I can tell you that Diego Maradona is all but deified in Argentina today, perhaps to a small extent due to his political beliefs but mostly in spite of it.

    It’s always important to place historic figures in their proper context. Maradona’s political views began as reactionary, as he came to prominence shortly before the ouster of Jorge Rafael Videla. In Argentina, as I understand it, Maradona’s political views aren’t seen as particularly offensive, mainly because the brutality of Videla’s far-right regime is still pretty fresh in many minds. Under Videla’s junta, Argentina became one of the world’s foremost human rights violators, while pursuing reckless deregulatory policies that exacerbated poverty and left the nation in severe debt to this day. Anyone who would have fled Argentina and sought refuge here wouldn’t have been fleeing Castro, or Chavez. He’d have been fleeing Videla, and as the US fully supported the Videla regime, he wouldn’t have found refuge here.


  3. There were many footballers I once admired, but only for the skill they displayed. Since big money entered the game, I no sadly longer follow football. At least it gives me more time to write and read.


  4. I totally get your point, and agree to it completely at a cerebral level. However, the very first world cup that I ever watched (in fact football that I ever watched) was the 1986 world cup in which Maradona scored the goal of the century, and his team won the world cup. I became a huge fan since then, and tended to forgive his numerous ‘crimes’ (like Hand of God, doping, cocaine etc) for a long period of time. It’s only after I stopped following football around a decade ago that I could coolly look back at those events, and accept things for what they were.


    • Unlike a lot of guys, for some reason, I never developed an interest in organized, professional sports, so it’s difficult for me to relate to being a sports fan. It’s not that I disdain those who follow sports, it’s just that I don’t “get it.” I know that when we like or even idolize someone, we tend to overlook their human frailties. That’s human nature. Now if we could only see the best in “ordinary” people, maybe that would help, too.

      Liked by 1 person

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