‘Give her the crown already’: Miss Universe contestant dons figure-hugging kit in honor of Argentina legend Diego Maradona (VIDEO)
Six months after the legendary striker's untimely death, his spirit clearly lives on in his homeland and in the heart of the flamboyant Axelrad, who took to the stage in Hollywood in a shimmering version of Argentina's famous blue-and-white colors adorned with their most loved icon's name and number 10.
Cavorting on in the contest preliminary, Axelrad performed some close-control dribbling with a football she held, dancing to the song 'vamos, vamos' beloved of followers of the Argentina national team.
"I did not have the privilege of seeing him play, but I relived together with my family all his plays and his goals, the way he worked on the pitch," the model told her Instagram following of more than 103,000 about the former Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli and Newell's Old Boys showman.
"I had to see him at a time when the news in the media about his private life was not the best , but I also know, as [musician] Rodrigo [Bueno] said, 'he sowed joy in the people'.
"I invite you to let yourself be carried away by the passion, the joy and the glory that Maradona made us feel at some point.
"Through my typical costume, let's celebrate the player on the pitch and not the man at home.
"Maradona said: 'I only ask you to let me live my own life. I never wanted to be an example.'
"We are not the ones to judge your personal life, but if there is something I am sure of, it is that you were an example of how to represent La Celeste y Blanca [Argentina] with pride and loyalty.
"My outfit is inspired by the passion that unites us all: that means we go out and say to each other 'eh, [Lionel] Messi, Maradona.' That is Argentina."
Fans on social media responded with a procession of jokes, Maradona photos and clips and even a few assessments of Axelrad's performance.
"Give her the crown already," said one, accompanying their call with an animation of pop superstar Rihanna lifting a tiara to her head.
Axelrad is clearly not shy of waxing lyrical about football in Argentina. "It is beyond the colors, the pitch, the classics," she said during her final rehearsals.
"It is not only training, kicking the ball and scoring a goal. Soccer in Argentina is unity, passion, euphoria – it is to be born with a club inherited in your heart.
"It is discipline, Sunday after dinner... it is 23 provinces united to celebrate a goal from our national team."
With that force of emotion and patriotism, it is hard to imagine Maradona would not have been as charmed by Axelrad as she hopes the competition judges will be.Also on rt.com Neighbours with Neymar? Messi to PSG rumors fueled again as Barcelona legend ‘launches search for new property in Paris’