Yesterday was a dark day in the history of Football. Diego Maradona, one of the greatest footballers of all time died due to cardiac arrest at the age of 60. On the sudden demise of their superstar, Argentina’s President declared three days of national mourning and posted a tribute on Twitter. It read, “You took us to the top of the world. You made us feel incredibly happy. You were the greatest of all. Thank you for having existed.” Maradona was one legend and was well known for his iconic goals in the field. However, his glittering career was marked with several controversies. Let’s take a brief look into his extraordinary ‘larger than life’ story.
“El Pibe de Oro aka The Golden Kid”
Born in 1960, Diego Maradona played as an Argentine professional footballer as well as manager. He is one of the two joint winners of the “FIFA Player of the 20th Century” award, making his first-division debut in 1976 with Argentinos Juniors. He then moved to Boca Juniors, FC Barcelona and finally to SSC Napoli. Meanwhile, Maradona enjoyed great success with Napoli, raising the traditionally weak Naples side to the heights of Italian Football. He played in a total of four FIFA World Cups, 1982,1986,1990 and 1994. In 1986 World cup, Maradona captained Argentina and led them to victory. The game saw some historic goals that made Diego Maradona known as the “Hand of God” and was voted “Goal of the Century” by FIFA.com voters in 2002.
Another feather in his cap was his career as Argentina’s National Football Team Coach in 2008. He took charge of the team at 2010 World Cup. Further, he coached Dubai-based club Al Wasl in UAE Pro-League and Fujairah. In 2018, he became chairman of Belarusian club ‘Dynamo Brest’, then worked for ‘Dorados’ and was coaching club “Gimnasia de La Plata” until his death.
The infamous “Hand of God”
The Hand of God is an unforgettable landmark in football history. Football enthusiasts talk about the incident with enthusiasm. The incident took place in the World Cup where Maradona scored during Argentina’s match against England on June 22, 1986. Maradona jumped as if to head the ball but instead it hit his hand and went past goalkeeper Peter Shilton to give Argentina a 1-0 lead. The referees missed the handball as there was no technology in those days to overrule the decision. After the landmark victory, Maradona exclaimed that he scored “a little with his head, and a little with the hand of God.” And so, Maradona, the legendary footballer will always be remembered and will hence forever remain the “Hand of God.”
Footballer Diego Maradona : Life off the Pitch
Maradona’s life was all full of glam and glitters but a failed Drug test in 1991 banned him from the game for 15 months. Although, after completing his ban, Maradona returned to the field but again in 1994 World cup, a second doping test failed him. A banned diuretic led to his another suspension and effectively ended his career at the highest level. In 2000, he was treated for hypertension and arrhythmia and by the end of January travelled to enter an extensive rehabilitation program. Doctors were treating him for his addiction problems. After four years of treatment, Maradona was finally able to hold a grand farewell match. It was a star-studded affair.
Even after all these years of drug use, alcoholism and overeating, Maradona reinvented himself. He fought bravely and made a comeback showcasing his charisma on the field as a coach. People worship him as ‘El Dios’-The God, in Argentina. Maradona is gone but his legendary games and dribbling skills will be remembered for decades.