Diego Armando Maradona was born on 30 October 1960, in Lanús, Buenos Aires, Argentina. His father was Guaraní and his mother was of Italian descent. He has two younger brothers, Hugo (el Turco) and Raúl (Lalo), both of whom were also professional football players. Maradonna was spotted by a talent scout at the age of eight. He named Brazilian playmaker Rivellino and Manchester United winger George Best among his inspirations growing up. He was a staple of Los Cebollitas, the junior team of Buenos Aires’s Argentinos Juniors.
At a tender age of 16, the Argentine legend made his professional debut for the Argentinos Juniors against Talleres de Córdoba. He entered to the pitch wearing the number 16 jersey and became the youngest player in the history of the Argentine Primera División. Maradona scored his first goal in the Primera División against Marplatense team San Lorenzo on 14 November 1976, two weeks after turning 16. Maradona spent five years at Argentinos Juniors, from 1976 to 1981, scoring 115 goals in 167 games before transferring $4 million to Boca Juniors. Maradona got invitations to represent other teams, including River Plate, which promised to make him the highest paying player in the club.
However, Maradona shared his desire to move to Boca Juniors, the club he’d always wanted to play for. On 20 February 1981, Maradona signed a deal with Boca Juniors. Two days later, he made his debut against Talleres de Córdoba, scoring twice in the club’s 4–1 victory. On April 10, Maradona played his first Super classic against River Plate at the La Bombonera stadium. Boca beat River 3–0 and Maradona scored a goal after dribbling past Alberto Tarantini and Fillol. Given the distrustful partnership between Maradona and Boca’s junior boss, Silvio Marzolini, Boca had a fruitful season, winning the league title after securing a point against the Racing Club, it was the only title won by him in Argentine League.
After the 1982 World Cup, in June, Maradona was transferred to Barcelona in Spain for a then world-record fee of £5 million ($7.6 million). In 1983, under coach César Luis Menotti, Barcelona and Maradona won the Copa del Rey (Spain’s annual national cup competition), beating Real Madrid, and the Spanish Super Cup, beating Athletic Bilbao. On 26 June 1983, Barcelona won away to Real Madrid in one of the world’s biggest club games, El Clásico, a match where Maradona scored and became the first Barcelona player to be applauded by arch-rival Real Madrid fans.
Maradona left Barcelona in 1984 after a violent brawl in the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao. He had been taunted by Bilbao fans for his father’s Native American ancestry. Maradona headbutted a Bil bao player, elbowed another player in the face and kneed another in the head. 60 people were injured in the mass brawl, which effectively ended the Argentine’s Barcelona career. He scored 38 goals in 58 games in two injury-hit seasons at the club. He later demanded to be transferred out of Camp Nou in what was his last game in a Barca shirt. In his final season at Barcelona, he scored 28 goals in 40 appearances, but also had numerous off-field incidents, including a bout of hepatitis and a broken ankle in a La Liga game in September 1983 that threatened to end his career.
Maradona was transferred to Napoli in Italy’s Serie A for another world record fee, £6.9 million ($10.48 million). Diego Maradona captained Napoli to their first-ever Serie A title in the 1986-87 season. The victory had a transformative impact on the southern part of the Italian peninsula. The Argentine legend went on to win another Scudetto at the club and also won the Coppa Italia in 1987. The city of Napoli resonated with the Argentine superstar’s eccentric nature. AC Milan’s Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini claimed that Maradona was the best player they had ever faced.
During his time with the Argentine National Team, Maradona scored 34 goals in 91 appearances. He made his full international debut against Hungary at the age of 16 on 27 February 1977. Maradona was left out of the Argentine squad for the 1978 World Cup on home soil. Maradona played the 1979 FIFA World Youth Championship in Japan and emerged as the star of the competition, sparkling in Argentina’s 3-1 final victory over the Soviet Union, scoring a total of six goals in six rounds of the tournament. On 2 June 1979, Maradona scored his first senior international goal in a 3-1 victory over Scotland in Hampden Park.
Diego Maradona was essentially a sorcerer. The unreal adventures of Argentine on the pitch transcended the realm of sport and created scenes that left spectators and opponents alike dazed, angry, confused and overcome by splendour in a period that was inexplicably difficult to fathom. Unlike the 1982 World Cup, the 1986 edition of the competition saw another Diego Maradona. The Argentinian playmaker had been engaging in a combative and aggressive Series A practice for more than two years and was now accustomed to the offensive approach that the defenders usually took to nullify his brilliance. Argentina was in the midst of a tough transformation at the time, with the inspiring veteran Daniel Passarella hanging up his boots days before his country’s first game. Diego Maradona was Argentina’s sole warrior in an interspersed tournament of dominant and well-dried players. What resulted, though, was nothing short of historical annihilation Argentina became the world champions in 1986 under the leadership of Maradona. Maradona’s second goal against England, in particular, is commonly regarded as one of the greatest goals in football history and has been appropriately dubbed “the goal of the century” by contemporary journalists.
Diego Maradona was a drug user as early as 1982. As he moved from Barcelona to Naples in 1984, his drug use was soon out of reach. His secret drug and sex worker vices had him slip into a trap with the local Italian mafia. The strong and brutal Giuliano clan of the Camorra organised crime cartel never relaxed their grip on him. Diego Maradona was trapped in 1991 by the Italian police in a wiretap sting operation. At 3 o’clock in the morning, attempting to get two sex slaves to his room with his mob links, Maradona was eventually busted. The phone call was tapped by the police and later used as evidence to bring charges against him for possession and trafficking of cocaine (the latter because he gave some powder to sex workers), the New York Post reported.
His first prescription ban arrived the same year. He was suspended for 15 months by his own cocaine test squad. Later the same year, he was arrested in Buenos Aires for trafficking 500 g of cocaine and sentenced to a suspended term of 14 months. Things became no less controversial in retirement when Maradona was sentenced to two years in suspended custody and 10 months in June 1998 for shooting journalists with an air rifle in 1994.
The last nail in his career came in 1997 when he failed a substance test for the third time in six years. He spoke openly and admitted that he was a drug addict, saying that he would bear the responsibility for the remainder of his life. Years of drug use, overeating and alcoholism captured him in 2000, when he had cocaine-induced heart disease. He suffered an overdose in 2000 and a heart attack in 2004 and was forced to undergo gastric bypass surgery in 2005.
After riding Argentina to win Nigeria at the Russian World Cup, Maradona collapsed and was rushed to hospital in a terrifying moment. The 57-year-old star had gone wild when he saw his beloved Argentina redeem their place in the tournament with a dramatic winner four minutes out.
He was admitted to the City Hospital for precautionary examinations. A preliminary diagnosis was revealed that he had high blood pressure and a heart murmur. Finally, his adventurous journey concluded two years back.
Checkout more such content at: https://gogomagazine.in/category/sports/