ICONIST: Señor Aczel, the soccer World Cup is about to begin. Are your crayons sharpened yet?
German Aczel: Of course. I'm not flying to Qatar specifically to work from home in peace. I'm extremely excited to see what spectacular goals will be scored.
ICONIST: Which you will then put in a congenial way, like in your recently published book "The most beautiful goals of all time"?
Aczel: Exactly, I'll paint around the clock. A World Cup is also the highlight of my work. The next publication is already being planned.
ICONIST: How did you get into painting?
Aczel: Ever since I was a child, I loved to draw. I probably got this enthusiasm from my mother, who exemplified this passion for me. During the school days, the students and teachers waited longingly on Mondays for the goals I had drawn from the games in our first division. That was really iconic.
ICONIST: Why are you illustrating soccer goals?
Aczel: I'm from Buenos Aires, and you're a football fan there. I draw as a fan for the fans. In the beginning I also caricatured politics, art and music. But at some point the demand from magazines for football cartoons was so great that I only dealt with them.
ICONIST: Which of the 228 goals in your book is your favorite?
Aczel: Maradona's legendary dribbling over half the pitch to make it 2-1 in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals against England. That will always be my goal of the century. Maradona was and remains my idol.
ICONIST: Did you know him personally?
Aczel: Yes. I was 13 when I met him. That changed my life. After the international match against Paraguay in Buenos Aires on June 20, 1987, I suddenly found myself standing next to him in the catacombs of the stadium. He spoke to me, hugged me, there were magical moments that inspired me incredibly. After that, I believed that all dreams can come true. When Maradona died in 2020, I cried for a week.
ICONIST: How long do you paint on a picture?
Aczel: At least two or three days, depending on how extensive the research is. I watch every sequence of a goal umpteen times on YouTube, ask friends, acquaintances, experts if they have seen the goal I want to draw live. Every goal is an emotional challenge for me, I don't want to do anything wrong. For me, a beautiful goal is like a valuable painting, so to put it simply: great art. I am happy to be able to do what I love.
ICONIST: Your works have also won awards.
Aczel: Which makes me very proud and also led to living in your home country. With the prize money I once received for a competition in Dubai, I went on a trip to Europe, where I met my wife in Munich. I was 26, now we have four children and feel right at home in Bavaria.
ICONIST: Do your children paint too, or do they rather emulate Maradona?
Aczel: Hard to say. You have a talent for both. We'll see.
This text is part of our Small Talk series, in which we publish short conversations with interesting people.