Diego Armando Maradona was born as the fifth of eight children in the slums of Villa Fiorito near Buenos Aires. He entered professional football at the astonishing age of 15 and debuted with the Argentine national team a year later. Despite Maradona’s talent, he was considered too young by coach Cesar Menotti, who excluded him from his selection for World Cup 1978. Bitterly disappointed, Maradona watched the tournament from home as his country won gold. In the next four years, Maradona came to dominate the Argentine league and was eventually included in the squad for World Cup 1982.
“In training, you could see the real Maradona and it was quite a spectacle. He never lost a practice match! He did things with tremendous ease. It made you feel incredibly small, because he has such fantastic skills.” former teammate
Argentina advanced through the group stage of World Cup 1982 by defeating Hungary and Salvador, but losing to Belgium. Maradona managed to leave his mark with two beautiful goals. In the the second stage of the tournament, Argentina played Italy. Maradona was fouled repeatedly during the match and his frustration gets him sent off. Argentina failed to advance and Maradona was again unable to unleash his full potential. His skill did not go unnoticed and after the World Cup, he was signed up by FC Barcelona. In 1984, Maradona transferred to Italian club Napoli.
At World Cup 1986 in Mexico, Maradona made his return in spectacular fashion. During the quarterfinals, Argentina played England at a time when tension between the countries was heightened by the Falkland Islands conflict. Maradona opened the score by striking the ball with his hand over the English goalkeeper Shilton. Unnoticed by the referees, the mishap was ruled a goal. When confronted with video footage later, Maradona replied that the goal was scored “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God”. Five minutes after the mishap, Maradona dribbled with the ball through the entire English defense from midfield right down to the goal line for the final 2-1. He produced another two goals in the semifinals and an assist in the final. Maradona is considered one of the few players to single-handedly (no pun intended) win the World Cup for his country.
“He has all the qualities: speed, skill, talent as a scorer and a playmaker. He is the most important player since Pele” former coach
Maradona’s brilliance was evident in his club team too. Napoli achieved unprecedented success, winning their very first and second Scudetto in 1987 and 1990 and the UEFA Cup in the 1989 season.
During World Cup 1990, all eyes were on Maradona as he came close to repeating his success from four years ago. Argentina reached the final after defeating Brazil, Yugoslavia and Italy. Most memorable was the semifinal match between Argentina and Italy. The match was played on Maradona’s club home in Naples, however the fans booed him. Nevertheless, Argentina managed to eliminate Italy after a penalty shootout. In the final, Argentina lost 0-1 against West Germany with a goal from a questionable penalty.
After his loss in the World Cup final, Maradona’s career plummeted. In March of 1991, he failed a drug test and was banned from football for 15 months. Maradona refused to return back to Napoli after the World Cup boos and transferred to Sevilla instead. He eventually returned to Argentina with Newell’s Old Boys. The 1994 World Cup confirmed that Maradona’s career in international football was over. He was suspended again after failing another drug test. Without Maradona, his country was eliminated by Romania in the second stage of the tournament.
Next, Maradona tried his luck at coaching, but was unable to remain at a single club for more than four months. By 1995, he was forced to return to the game as a player. Maradona went back to his former club Boca Juniors and remained there until his last match on in October 25th of 1997. Five days later, during his 37th birthday, he announced his retirement from football. Until 2001, Maradona remained away from the pitch, periodically entering rehab for cocaine abuse. He played his farewell match on the 10th of November 2001 against an all-star team comprised by some of the top footballers in the game including Ferrara, Suker, Stoichkov, Cantona, Higuita, and Romario.
|Name||Diego Armando Maradona|
|Born||30 October 1960 in Villa Fiorito, Buenos Aires|
|Height||168 cm / 5’8″ feet|
|Weight||78 kg / 172 pounds (1997)|
|Teams||Argentinos Juniors (Buenos Aires)
Boca Juniors (Buenos Aires)
Newell’s Old Boys (Rosario)
|Nicknames||Pibe de Oro
|Skills||Dribbling, control, flair, creativity|