Diego Maradona, considered one of the greatest footballers of all time, has died at the age of 60.
The Argentine, who underwent brain surgery this month, died of a heart attack, his lawyer said. Maradona inspired his country to World Cup glory in 1986 when, as captain, he displayed a level of skill, creativity, strength and desire that has possibly not been seen before or since. In the 2-1 quarter-final victory over England too scored perhaps the greatest goal of all time, a match in which the forward also showed his darker and mischievous side with the infamous ‘Hand of God’.
Maradona also achieved club-level success, notably with Napoli, whom he led to his first Serie A title in 1987. A second followed in 1990, along with an Italian Cup in 1987 and a Copa de la UEFA in 1991, and such was the impact of the player. at a club that had previously lived in the shadow of northern Italian powers, notably Juventus, Milan and Internazionale, that Napoli announced in 2000 that they were retiring their number 10 jersey.
However, it was during his seven years in Naples that Maradona’s addiction to cocaine took hold of him. He was punished with a 15-month suspension for drug offenses in 1991, the year he left Napoli, and three years later, he was expelled from the World Cup in the United States after testing positive for ephedrine.
From there, Maradona’s personal life spiraled out of control and in 2000 and 2004 he was hospitalized for heart problems, the second time he required the use of a respirator to breathe properly. The following year, he underwent gastric bypass surgery to help stop his obesity.
However, none of that could overshadow his talent in the field that, at its peak, was almost supernatural.
Born in Buenos Aires on October 30, 1960, Diego Armando Maradona was a child prodigy and joined Los Cebollitas, a youth team of Argentinos Juniors, at the age of 10 he played a key role in their incredible streak of 136 consecutive victories. . , which in turn led him to debut with the senior team just before his 16th birthday.
A short time later, on February 27, 1977, Maradona made his debut for Argentina, entering as a substitute in the 65th minute in a friendly against Hungary at La Bombonera, home of Boca Juniors, whom Maradona signed in 1981. He only spent one season in the club, but in that time he scored an impressive solo goal against arch rival River Plate and helped Boca win the title.
Given his rapid development and consistently dominant displays, it was no surprise that Maradona was soon courted by the biggest clubs in Europe and in 1982, having participated in his first World Cup, in Spain, he joined Barcelona for a world record of £ 5 million.
He struggled to show his best form for the Catalans, however, in part due to the broken ankle he sustained in September 1983 after a Entrance of the “Butcher of Bilbao”, Andoni Goicoechea. But Maradona finally recovered and in 1984 he joined Napoli. Two years later came the World Cup in Mexico and the moment when he established himself as a true great.
The Argentina captain played every minute of every match, scoring five goals and providing assists to another five. He was supreme throughout, the tournament’s most dynamic and exciting player and took his breath away with his second goal against England at the Azteca Stadium as he passed over two players in the middle line before exploding to another pair and, under the pressure from Terry. Butcher’s lunge circled Peter Shilton before passing the ball into an empty net. It was an impressive display of skill paired with courage and it’s no wonder some still call the hit “the goal of the century.”
Four minutes earlier, Maradona scored his first goal of the game. Argentina’s number 10 clearly hit the ball past Shilton as the pair challenged for a high ball, but despite protests from Bobby Robson’s men, the goal held. “I will never forgive him,” Butcher said in 2008. “It is not pleasant to lose the quarterfinals of the World Cup under those circumstances. It is very difficult to forgive and forget under the circumstances. “
Maradona participated in two more World Cups: in 1990, when he captained Argentina to second place, and in 1994, when he was sent home after scoring in a 4-0 group win over Greece, which turned out to be his last appearance for his country. In total, Maradona was international 91 times, scoring 34 goals.
At club level, Maradona joined Sevilla following his departure from Napoli before returning to his homeland to play for Newell’s Old Boys and Boca, where he retired in 1997.
After his personal battles, he managed Argentina for two years, leading them to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where a team with players like Juan Sebastián Verón, Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi reached the quarterfinals. A year later, and having left the position in the national team, he took over the Dubai-based club Al-Wasl before taking up various positions, most recently as coach of Gymnastics and Fencing in the Argentine first division.
But it is for his exploits as a player that Maradona will be remembered the most. Having been named South American Footballer of the Year five times, in 2000 he was named the FIFA Player of the Century alongside Pelé after a combination of an online poll and nominations of FIFA officials, coaches and players. Maradona won the popular vote.
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