Diego Maradona is regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, and the best in his generation. He was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the 20th Century award.
Maradona was known for his amazing dribbling skills, and the ability to pass and control the ball very well.
The Argentine football icon died at the age of 60 on Wednesday, November 25, 2020, after suffering a heart attack.
His birth and family
Diego Armando Maradona was born on October 30, 1960, in Lanús, Buenos Aires in Argentina. He was raised in Villa Fiorito, a shantytown on the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires.
Maradona has six siblings and was the first son after four daughters. His younger brothers, Hugo and Raul were also professional footballers.
Discovering his football talent
Maradona reportedly received his first football as a gift when he was 3 years old and quickly became devoted to the game.
He was discovered at age eight by a talent scout when he was playing in his neighbourhood club, Estrella Roja. He later joined Los Cebollitas (The Little Onions), the junior team of Argentinos Juniors.
Maradona signed his first professional contract with Argentinos Juniors at age 14 and later made his professional debut for the club on October 20, 1976 – ten days before his 16th birthday – becoming the youngest player in the history of Argentine Primera División.
After five years at Argentinos Juniors, scoring 115 goals in 167 appearances, Maradona joined Boca Juniors in 1981 and immediately helped them win the league title.
After an amazing season with Boca Juniors, Maradona moved to Europe and signed for one of Spanish football giants, Barcelona, in 1982, for a world record fee of £5 million. He won the Copa del Rey and Spanish Super cup with Barcelona.
Maradona, in 1984, signed for Italian club Napoli, where he was for seven years and enjoyed great success. He was loved and adored by fans of Napoli and he was also very instrumental in making the club attractive and successful. Maradona helped Napoli win the league title twice in 1987 and 1990, the Coppa Italia in 1987, UEFA Cup in 1989 and the Italian Super cup in 1990.
Maradona’s awesome career at Napoli ended when he tested positive for cocaine use and received a 15-month suspension from playing football.
After serving his ban, Maradona signed for Sevilla, where he played for a season.
He later returned to Argentina and signed for Newell’s Old Boys in 1993, and returned to Boca Juniors in 1995 where here played until 1997. Maradona played his last official football game on October 25, 1997.
Maradona enjoyed a lot of success with the Argentina national team, scoring 34 goals in 91 appearances.
He made his full international debut at age 16 against Hungary on February 27, 1977, but was left out of the Argentine squad for the 1978 World Cup by the national team coach who felt he was too young at age 17.
At age 18, Maradona won the 1979 FIFA World Youth Championship in Japan, and also emerged as the star of the tournament, shining in Argentina’s 3–1 final win over the Soviet Union in the final. He scored six goals in six appearances in the tournament.
On 2 June 1979, he scored his first senior international goal in a 3-1 win against Scotland at Hampden Park.
Maradona also featured in 1982, 1986, 1990 and 1994 World Cup tournaments.
His best World Cup tournament was in Mexico in 1986, which Argentina won. In a 2-1 quarterfinal victory over England, he scored two of the most memorable goals in World Cup history. The first was scored with his hand (known as the “Hand of God” goal), and the second goal which came just four minutes after the first, saw him dribble past English defenders to eventually beat Peter Shilton to make the score 2-0.
He did not complete the 1994 World Cup, because he tested positive for the drug ephedrine and was again suspended.
Maradona, in 2008, was named head coach of the Argentine national team. Shortly after leading Argentina to the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup, he and the country’s football governing body could not agree on a contract extension, and his tenure as the team’s head coach ended.
In 2011, Maradona was hired to coach the United Arab Emirates club Al Wasl. However, the team struggled, and Maradona was fired the following year. He went on to coach other clubs including Deportivo Riestra, Fujairah, Dorados and Gimnasia de La Plata.
He allegedly faced a scandal regarding an illegitimate son during his time at Napoli.
He was also the object of some suspicion over an alleged friendship with the Camorra – an Italian Mafia-type criminal organisation.
From the mid-1980s until 2004, Maradona was addicted to cocaine. He allegedly began using the drug in Barcelona in 1983. By the time he was playing for Napoli, he had a regular addiction, which began to interfere with his ability to play football.
He became obese from the end of his playing career until undergoing gastric bypass surgery in March 2005.
On March 29, 2007, Maradona was readmitted to a hospital in Buenos Aires. He was treated for hepatitis and effects of alcohol abuse and was released on 11 April, but readmitted two days later. After transfer to a psychiatric clinic specializing in alcohol-related problems, he was discharged on 7 May.
In January 2019, Maradona underwent surgery after a hernia caused internal bleeding in his stomach.
On November 2, 2020, Maradona was reportedly admitted to hospital for psychological reasons. A day later, he underwent emergency brain surgery to treat a subdural hematoma. He was reportedly doing well after his surgery, before his death on November 25 after suffering a heart attack.
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