Diego Armando Maradona is the name of a football legend. This extraordinary talent from Argentina died on November 25, 2020, due to cardiac arrest. His demise took everyone by surprise and stunned the entire world. Those who saw Maradona play during the 1980s and early 1990s know what a tremendous footballer he was. His amazing dribbling, ball control, on-field foresight, and leadership ability were unrivaled. This diminutive Argentine was always in the spotlight because of his on- and off-field activities. In honor of Diego Maradona's one-year anniversary, let's take a look back at his life.
Diego Armando Maradona was born into a humble family on October 30, 1960. He was his parents' first boy after four girls. His father was a chemical factory worker. Maradona was discovered by a talent scout while playing in his hometown club Estrella Roja at the age of eight. As a ball boy, he used to amuse fans by demonstrating his magic with the ball during halftime of first-division games. He made his full debut with Argentinos Juniors a few years later.
Maradona was romantically linked to several women over his long professional career and after retirement. He had a large family as a result. He was the father of eight children with six different women. Except for Gianinna and Dalma, Maradona initially denied parenthood to any other children. He has two children with Claudia Villafane, whom he divorced in 2003 after almost two decades of marriage. Later, he acknowledged six more children: Diego Junior from Cristiana Sinagra, Jana from Valeria Sabalain, Diego Fernando from Verónica Ojeda, Joana, Lu, and Javielito, Santiago Lara, and Magali Gil from unidentified women.
Among his children, Diego Jr. is a full-time manager who used to play professional football in Italy. Giannina Maradona was married to retired Argentine footballer Sergio Aguero, and the couple has a son named Benjamin Aguero. The couple got divorced in 2012.
Maradona made his professional debut with Argentinos Juniors on October 20, 1976. He had come to fame in World football after five years with the Argentinos youth. Maradona scored 115 goals in 167 games with the Argentinos Junior before transferring to Boca Juniors in 1981. He only lasted one season and scored 28 goals in 40 games in the 1981-1982 season. Many European giants wanted to recruit him, but Barcelona snatched him up for a world-record transfer fee of $7.6 million. Maradona spent two years with FC Barcelona when he helped his team win three titles. He was sold to Napoli for a world record fee of $10.48 million in 1984.
At the age of 16, Maradona made his international debut against Hungary on February 27, 1977, and scored his first goal against Scotland on June 2, 1979. In 1982, Maradona made his World Cup debut in Spain. He appeared in all five of Argentina's World Cup matches and scored two goals against Hungary. However, Argentina were eliminated in the second group stage.
Diego Maradona cemented his place as one of the greatest footballers of all time after almost single-handedly helping Argentina win the World Cup for the second time in 1986 in Mexico. Maradona was the captain of Argentina and his leadership role had a significant impact on the team's performance.
Argentina qualified for the Round of 16 after winning Group A. In the group stage, Maradona scored a key goal against Italy. Argentina defeated Uruguay in the first round of the elimination round and met England in the quarterfinals.
Diego Maradona produced two of the greatest memories in international football history during the quarter-final encounter. He scored with his left hand in the 51st minute. The England players protested immediately, but the referee ruled it a legitimate goal. It was dubbed the 'Hand of God.' However, four minutes later, Maradona netted a spectacular goal that earned the title of 'Goal of the Century.' Maradona received the ball in his own half and dribbled past five English players before placing the ball into the net.
Maradona rose to the occasion once more in the semi-final match against Belgium, scoring two stunning goals to send Argentina to the final. Maradona did not score in the final, but he played a key role in Argentina's 3-2 victory over Germany. Diego Maradona's outstanding performance throughout the tournament helped Argentina win their second World Cup victory. He deservedly won the tournament's best player award.
Four years later, Diego helped Argentina to take the world cup final. However, they were defeated by West Germany in the final match by a solitary goal this time.
Napoli had not won the league title before when Maradona moved there in 1984. Maradona was instrumental in Napoli's first Serie A triumph in 1987. They won their second Serie A championship three years later, in 1990. In between, they finished second in the league twice. While Maradona was at Napoli, they also won the Coppa Italia, Supercopa Italiana, and UEFA Cup. In all, Maradona scored 115 goals for Napoli in 259 games. In 2000, Napoli retired the number 10 shirt in his honor, and following his death, the club renamed their stadium Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.
Following Argentina's 2-1 World Cup victory over Nigeria in 1994, Maradona had to take a drug test. However, he failed a drug test and was deported to his home country. Argentina were eliminated in the Round of 16 in the absence of Maradona. He made his final appearance for the Argentine national team against Nigeria. In total, he scored 34 goals in 91 games during his career.
From the mid-1980s, Maradona was hooked on cocaine and other narcotics, which caused him problems throughout his life. He was admitted to the hospital several times after becoming severely ill. He found himself in a lot of useless squabbles because of his arrogant behavior. He was a political Leftist, but after meeting Pope Francis in 2014, he reportedly returned to Christianity.
Maradona coached many professional clubs in the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, and Argentina. Though he never won a trophy as a manager. He was the manager of Argentina's national football team from November 2008 to July 2010. Argentina competed in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa under his leadership. Argentina's players had exhibited excellent comradeship throughout the tournament until they were thrashed 4-0 by Germany in the quarter-final encounter. Maradona stepped down from the position after the 2010 World Cup.
Maradona was taken to a hospital in La Plata on November 2, 2020, reportedly for psychological reasons. He had emergency brain surgery and was released on November 12th after the procedure went well. Two weeks later, on November 25, Maradona died in his sleep at his home in Argentina after suffering cardiac arrest. Maradona was laid to rest in the Jardn de Bella Vista cemetery in Bella Vista, Buenos Aires, beside his parents.
Diego Maradona was voted Player of the Century in a FIFA-sponsored fan survey in 2000. He earned 53.60 percent of the vote, while Pele came in second with 18.53 percent. This poll demonstrates how popular he was among his admirers. Diego's personal life was filled with controversy, but no one can deny his contribution in popularizing the game in the mid-80s. Pele and Maradona might be argued as the best footballers of all time based on their statistics and accomplishments. Both have their own arguments for claiming to be the greatest of all time. However, without getting into that debate, Maradona's extraordinary contribution to football should be remembered on his first death anniversary.
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