The whole world was thrown into mourning following the demise of football legend and Argentine hero, Diego Armando Maradona. Maradona spearheaded Argentina’s exploit in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico where the South American nation lifted the coveted trophy. All through his playing career, Maradona shone like million of stars and till his death there has been a dispute between him and another legend, Brazilian hero, Pele, who won three world cups with Brazil, who really is the greatest footballer ever.
Born on 30 October, 1960, at the Policlínico (Polyclinic) Evita Hospital in Lanús, Buenos Aires Province, Maradona was raised in Villa Fiorito, a shanty town on the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, to a poor family that had moved from Corrientes Province.
The Argentine legend is widely regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time, and by many as the greatest ever. He was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the 20th Century award. Maradona’s vision, passing, ball control and dribbling skills were combined with his small stature (1.65 m or 5 ft 5 in), which gave him a low centre of gravity allowing him to manoeuvre better than most other football players; he would often dribble past multiple opposing players on a run.
On the field of play, Maradona was a leader as captain of the Argentine national team, His presence of the pitch always sent shivers in the spine of opponents. He was a bundle of talent with a knack for goals. Wearing the jersey number 10, Maradona always carried the burden of his country and the clubs he played during his days.
Because of his talent, he was was given the nickname “El Pibe de Oro” (“The Golden Boy”), a name that stuck with him throughout his career.
According to Wikipedia, Maradona was the first player in football history to set the world record transfer fee twice, first when he transferred to Barcelona for a then-world record £5 million, and second, when he transferred to Napoli for another record fee £6.9 million. He played for Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell’s Old Boys during his club career, and was most famous for his time at Napoli and Barcelona where he won numerous accolades.
At the international level, Maradona had 91 caps and scored 34 goals for Argentina. He played in four World Cup for Argentina-1982, 1986, 1990 and 1994. In 1994, he was expelled from the tournament by FIFA for drug-related offence after two games for Argentina, one of which he spearheaded Argentina to beat Nigeria 2-1.
Of all the World Cups he took part, the 1986 tournament in Mexico was where he shone as stars. Maradona single-handedly deliver the trophy to Argentina, scoring five goals in the tournament and unlocking the defence of opposing teams. Maradona’s first goal against England which he scored with his hand, is still being regarded as the ‘Hand of God’ till this day. He scored a second goal that won the quarter-final for Argentina against England. The second goal followed a 60 metres dribble past five England players. That goal was voted “Goal of the Century” by FIFA.com voters in 2002.
In all, Maradona made 694 appearances and scored 354 goals for club and country combined, with a goal-scoring average of 0.51.
Maradona’s career as a coach was not successful. He was made the coach of Argentina in 2008 and took the country to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, with a dismal showing for Argentina. Argentina crashed to 4-0 defeat against Germany in the quarter-final of the tournament. He was later sacked by his country.
Maradona also coached several clubs sides which are Textil Mandiyú (1994) Racing Club (1995), Al-Wasl (2011–2012) of Dubai; Deportivo Riestra (assistant), 2013–2017; Fujairah (2017–2018), Dorados de Sinaloa (2018–2019) and Gimnasia de La Plata (2019–2020). Gimnasia de La Plata was the last club he coached before his demise.
The former Argentine star, until his death had serious issues with drugs. He was addicted to cocaine. He was sent expelled from the 1994 World Cup due to drug issues. This has been his undoing till he died. He had been in and out of hospital, aftermath of decades of doing drugs. On 2 November 2020, Maradona was admitted to a hospital in La Plata, supposedly due to psychological reasons. A day later, he underwent emergency brain surgery to treat a subdural hematoma, a blood clot on the brain. He was released on 12 November after successful surgery and was supervised by doctors as an outpatient. On 25 November 2020, Maradona died of cardiac arrest at his home in Tigre, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
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