Diego Maradona Profile
|Born||Oct 30, 1960|
|Died||Nov 25, 2020|
|Birthplace||Lanus, Buenos Aires|
Regarded as the greatest soccer player ever, Diego Maradona was the epitome of a flawed genius.
Diego Armando Maradona was an Argentine soccer player and coach. He played for Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla, Newell's Old Boys and the Argentina national team. Maradona also coached Argentina, Textil Mandiyu, Racing Club, Al-Wasl, Fujairah, Dorados and Gimnasia de La Plata.
Regarded worldwide as one of the greatest soccer players of all time, if not the greatest, Maradona is a cultural icon in Argentina.
Known for his trickery in pre-match warm-ups, the diminutive attacking midfielder was even more dazzling in a match situation, often winning games almost single-handedly. In a career blighted by controversy, Maradona scored 354 goals in 694 matches for club and country.
On November 25, 2020, Maradona died of a heart attack at his home in Dique Lujan, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina. He was 60 years old.
Diego Maradona and Argentina
Diego Maradona made his debut for the Argentina national team against Hungary on February 27, 1977. He was only 16 years old. However, coach Cesar Luis Menotti left Maradona out of his squad for the 1978 FIFA World Cup on home soil, taking the view that his squad was already complete. He was right. With the attacking quality of Mario Kempes, Luque and Oscar Ortiz and the midfield brilliance of Ossie Ardiles, Argentina won the World Cup in Maradona's absence.
Maradona was the star of the show at the 1979 FIFA World Youth Championship in Japan as Argentina beat the Soviet Union 3-1 in the final. Maradona also played for the senior national team in the Copa America that year.
In 1982, Maradona played for Argentina at the FIFA World Cup in Spain, his new country of residence following his switch from Boca Juniors to Barcelona. However, the tournament was not Maradona's finest.
He was heavily marked and repeatedly fouled across his five games for the Albiceleste at the tournament. Maradona netted twice in a 4-1 win over Hungary, but was sent off against Brazil with Argentina already 3-0 down. Argentina finished bottom of Group C, behind Italy and Brazil.
It was at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico that Maradona wrote his name into soccer folklore. He captained Argentina to victory, picking up five goals and five assists along the way.
In the quarter-final of the tournament, Maradona scored both Argentina goals in a 2-1 victory over England. The match was played against the backdrop of the Falklands War between the two countries.
Maradona's first goal was an infamous one, scored via a deliberate handball. Maradona said that the goal had been scored "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God". The second was a sensational solo effort which saw Maradona burst forward from inside his own half, beat five English outfield players, round goalkeeper Peter Shilton and slot the ball into the net. In 2002, it was voted as the greatest goal in the history of the World Cup.
Maradona scored twice against Belgium in the semi-final clash at the Azteca and then set up Jorge Burruchaga's winning goal in the final against West Germany, which Argentina won 3-2 despite Maradona being heavily marked.
Maradona captained Argentina to the final again at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, but this time they lost 1-0 to West Germany in the final.
In the 1994 World Cup, Maradona played in two matches before failing a drug test for ephedrine doping.
Maradona returned as head coach of the Argentina national team in 2008 and qualified them for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa despite suffering a 6-1 defeat to Bolivia along the way.
At the tournament itself, Argentina got off to a bright start, but were hammered 4-0 in the quarter-finals by Germany in Cape Town.
Struggling to live up to the hype at Barcelona
Maradona joined Barcelona from Boca Juniors in 1982 for a then world record transfer fee of £5million. Under Cesar Luis Menotti, his former coach for the Argentina national team, Maradona won the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup in 1983.
On June 26, 1983, Barcelona beat hosts Real Madrid in El Clasico, with Maradona scoring an iconic goal which was even applauded by home supporters. It was the first time this had happened in the history of El Clasico.
However, injury and illness overshadowed Maradona's spell at Barcelona and a controversial incident in 1984 sealed his exit. In the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, Maradona was provoked with racist insults from the crowd and faced a tough tackle from Andoni Goikoetxea before further provocation from Miguel Sola. Maradona's response to the provocation sparked a notorious mass brawl. In the wake of this, Maradona was sold to Napoli for another world record transfer fee of £6.9million.
Finding a home and his best form at Napoli
Maradona was welcomed by 75,000 fans upon his unveiling at the Stadio San Paolo on July 5, 1984.
He enjoyed the best years of his career in Naples. Maradona inspired Napoli to their first ever Serie A title in 1986/87 and they also won the 1987 Coppa Italia.
Maradona was the top scorer in the 1987/88 Serie A with 15 goals and, after triumphing in the 1989 UEFA Cup, Napoli regained the Serie A title in 1989/90. They also won the 1990 Italian Supercup.
A drug addiction put paid to Maradona's Napoli career and he left the club in 1992 following a 15-month ban for failing a cocaine test.
The number 10 jersey was retired in Maradona's honour at Napoli in 2000. Nine days after his death, Napoli's home stadium was renamed the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi comparisons
Maradona has often been compared with Lionel Messi, the only Argentine soccer player since who could compare to his legacy. Maradona coached Messi for the Argentina national team from 2008 to 2010.
Maradona scored 34 goals in 91 appearances for Argentina, while Messi has long since surpassed these statistics. However, Messi has never been viewed as a cultural icon in Argentina in quite the same way Maradona is, perhaps largely due to Maradona having won the 1986 World Cup. With Messi in the team, Argentina lost the 2014 final 1-0 to Germany.
Diego Maradona's personal life
Maradona consistently showed support for left-wing political causes. He befriended Fidel Castro and protested against the US-led Iraq war. Maradona protested against then-US president George W Bush's presence in Argentina at the 2005 Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata.
He was plagued by personal problems during and after his soccer career, including a child born as the result of an affair with Neopolitan accountant Cristiana Sinagra. Maradona only recognised this child as his son later in life.
Diego Maradona's net worth
Maradona's net worth was estimated at $100,000 shortly before his passing. In March 2009, Italian officials announced that he owed the country's government €37million in local taxes. Despite his legendary status on the field of play, he did not die with the sort of wealth that modern soccer legends accumulate.