Diego Maradona

Maradona and the World Cup trophy
Maradona and the World Cup trophy

Diego Armando Maradona (nicknamed "El Diego", "Pelusa", and "El Pibe") (born October 30, 1960) is a former Argentine football player. He is widely regarded as one of the best players in the history of the game, together with Pel and Alfredo Di Stefano.



Early Years

Maradona was born in Villa Fiorito, a shantytown in the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires, to a poor family who had moved from Corrientes Province; he was the first son after three girls. He has two younger brothers, Hugo (el turco) and Eduardo (Lalo), both of whom were professional footballers.

Spotted at age 10 by a talent scout while playing in his neighborhood club Estrella Roja, he became a staple of the cebollitas, the junior team of Buenos Aires side Argentinos Juniors. As a ball-boy in first division games, he often amused spectators by showing his wizardry with the ball during the halftime intermissions.

Career as a Player

At age 15 Maradona made his debut with Argentinos, where he played between 1976 and 81 before his transfer to the club that he supported — Boca Juniors, where he played (1981-82) and secured his first league title.

He debuted with the Argentina national football team (la seleccin) at age 16. At age 18 he played the Football World Youth Championship for Argentina, and was the star of the tournament, shining in the 3-1 final win over the USSR.

In 1982, Maradona played his first World Cup and was transferred to FC Barcelona.

Under coach Csar Luis Menotti, Barcelona and Maradona won the Copa del Rey. An ill-timed tackle by Athletic Bilbao's Andoni Goikoetxea sent him off the pitch for almost one year.

In 1984, Maradona was transferred to SSC Napoli, where he became an adored star, lifting the team to its most successful era. Napoli won their only Italian Championships (1986/87 and 1989/1990), a Coppa Italia (1987), a UEFA Cup (1989) and an Italian Supercup (1990). Napoli were also runners-up in the Italian Championship twice.

In the early 1980s his childhood friend and first personal agent, Jorge Cyterszpiller, marketed Maradona-centered merchandising but the products failed because counterfeiters would imitate every new item as soon as it was announced. Subsequent attempts to merchandise Maradona have also been unsuccessful.

Maradona led the Argentine national team to victory in the World Cup in 1986, the team winning 3-2 in the final against West Germany. In this tournament, the two goals he scored against England made him notorious, one for it became one of the most controversial in the history of the world cup and the second for it highlighted his skill. The first goal in the quarter-final game against England, which video evidence later appeared to show he had scored with the aid of his hand. He later claimed it was the "Hand of God" and implied that God was ultimately responsible for the goal because the referee missed the handball offence. In the second goal Maradona ran half the length of the pitch and dribbling the ball past almost every member of the English team. This goal was voted the best goal ever in the history of the World Cup by a FIFA poll in 2002.

Throughout that World Cup competition, Maradona asserted his dominance as no individual player has ever done before or after, and was generally regarded as the best player of the tournament.

Maradona also captained Argentina in the 1990 World Cup, leading a far weaker team to the final again, where they lost 1-0 to West Germany. He arrived at the 1994 World Cup overweight, and was sent home after failing a drug test for ephedrine doping. On this matter, he has stated that he had an agreement, which FIFA broke, to allow him to use the drug for weight loss before the competition in order to be able to play, so that the World Cup would not lose prestige because of his absence.

Maradona celebrating the victory of  over  in the
Maradona celebrating the victory of Argentina over West Germany in the Mexico 1986 World Cup

In Naples, where he is still beloved (having brought the local team their first scudetto), he also faced a scandal regarding an illegitimate son and was the object of some suspicion over his friendship with the Camorra, the local mafia.

Maradona left Napoli in 1992, after serving a 15-month ban for failing the drug test for cocaine, and played for Sevilla FC (1992-93), Newell's Old Boys (1993) and Boca Juniors (1995-97). He also attempted to work as a coach on two short stints, leading Mandiy of Corrientes (1994) and Racing Club (1995) without much success. He retired from football on October 30, 1997.

His second agent, Guillermo Coppola, became involved in some of the drug scandals. Maradona and Coppola, who were fast friends, have since broken their relationship—acrimoniously.

On January 26, 1997, Maradona discussed on live Ecuadorian TV with Ecuadorian president Abdal Bucaram about playing in Bucaram's Barcelona SC team, but nothing ever came out of this, as Bucaram was ousted by a coup d'tat.

Retirement and Honors

In 2000, Maradona published his autobiography Yo Soy El Diego ("I am the Diego"), which became an instant bestseller in his home country.

In the same year, Maradona was voted Player of the Century in an official FIFA poll conducted on the Internet, garnering 53.6% of the votes. Then, in an unannounced move, FIFA appointed a "family of soccer" committee, which voted to elect Pel alongside the Argentine. Maradona cried foul, and left the awards ceremony as soon as his prize was awarded.

In 2001, the Argentine Football Association asked FIFA for authorization to retire jersey number 10 as an homage to Maradona. Even though Argentine officials have claimed that FIFA hinted that it would grant the request, the authorization was denied.

Maradona has won other polls, including a 2002 FIFA poll in which his second goal against England was chosen as the best goal ever scored in a World Cup; he also won the most votes in a poll to determine the All-Time Ultimate World Cup Team.

Marriage and Divorce

Maradona married sweetheart Claudia Villafae 07/Nov/1989 in Buenos Aires, after she gave birth to their two daughters, Dalma Nerea (b 1987) and Giannina Dinorah (b 1989). In his autobiography, Maradona admits not always being faithful to Claudia, even though he always refers to her as the love of his life.

Following a series of rows, Diego and Claudia divorced in 2004. Dalma Maradona has since asserted that the divorce was the best solution for all, as her parents are on friendly terms. Diego and Claudia traveled together to Napoli for a series of homages in June 2005. Source: ESPN article (http://espndeportes.espn.go.com/story?id=334497)

During the divorce proceedings, Maradona admitted that he was the father of Diego Sinagra (b Naples, 1986), as was claimed by his mother, Cristiana Sinagra. (The Italian justice ruled in the same way in 1993, after Maradona refused to undergo DNA tests for proving or disproving his paternity.) Source: ESPN article (http://espndeportes.espn.go.com/story?id=334523)

Claudia has started working as a theater producer, and Dalma is seeking an acting career; she has expressed her desire to attend the Actor's Studio in Los Angeles. Sources: 1 (http://www.clarin.com/diario/2005/06/03/espectaculos/c-00811.htm) 2 (http://www.clarin.com/diario/2005/06/19/sociedad/s-998340.htm)

Health Situation

Since the 1990s, Maradona has been battling a cocaine addiction, which included spells in Swiss and Cuban detox clinics. Since 2001, Maradona has been living mostly in Cuba, becoming friends with President Fidel Castro.

On April 18, 2004, doctors reported that Maradona had suffered a major heart attack following a cocaine overdose; he was admitted to intensive care in a Buenos Aires hospital. Scores of fans gathered around the clinic indicating his popularity even in 2004. Days after the heart attack, a male nurse was caught taking photos of Maradona with a cellular telephone, and was promptly fired by the hospital managers.

After he showed improvement, Maradona was taken off a respirator on April 23, and remained in intensive care for several days before being discharged on April 29. He returned to Cuba in May.

In January 2005, Maradona was seen in a clinic in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, where he later checked in. On March 6, it was announced that he had undergone gastric bypass surgery as treatment for his obesity, which has since helped him reduce his weight. Later that year, Maradona resumed public appearences, in good spirits and displaying a thinner figure.

Football style

Short and stocky, Maradona had a very strong physique and could withstand physical pressure better than most players. His strong legs and low centre of gravity gave him additional advantage in short sprints opposite defenders. This is illustrated by his two goals against Belgium in the 1986 World Cup.

He was also a wizard with the ball and could manage himself in limited spaces, attracting defenders only to quickly dash out of the melee, or find a free teammate who would take the ball and score. Examples include the pass to Caniggia against Brazil in the 1990 World Cup, and the pass to Burruchaga that secured the 1986 trophy.

Maradona could convert fragile possessions into goals. His goal against Italy in the 1986 World Cup demonstrated this. Defenders in Maradona's time were more athletic than those Pel had to fight; Maradona had to do things faster, as he almost never enjoyed the additional second needed to secure and calm down the ball.

One of his trademark moves was dribbling full-speed as a left wing, and on reaching the opponent's goal line, delivering accurate passes to his teammates that many times proved lethal.

Maradona's kicking had a mixture of precision and power that enabled him to score many free kicks. It is to be noted that he seldom used his right foot for any decisive action; when he did, defenders were confounded.


Ever since 1986, it is common for Argentines abroad to hear Maradona's name as a token of recognition, even in remote places.

In Argentina, Maradona is often talked about in terms reserved for legends. In the Argentine film El Hijo de la Novia, an actor who impersonates a Catholic priest says to a bar patron: "they idolized him and then crucified him". When scolded by a friend for taking the prank too far (by elaborating on the passion of Jesus), the fake priest retorts: "But I was talking about Maradona".

There is a Church of Maradona, where "believers" re-enact the Hand of God goal, and partake in food and wine that bear his likeness. The "rituals" of this "church" have been filmed by several sports programmes and broadcast in many countries. The church does not take itself too seriously, even though its members have been involved in several community initiatives.

Commentators in Argentina have often compared Maradona to Dr Esteban Laureano Maradona (1895 - 1995), a physician who helped indigenous communities achieve better health standards, and was the recipient of the 1987 UN Medicine for Peace prize. Dr Maradona was renowned for his modesty, and worked until he turned ninety, so the comparison was often unfavorable to the footballer. Broadcaster Alejandro Dolina was the first to denounce the unfairness of this treatment.

Hounded for years by yellow journalism, Maradona even fired a compressed-air rifle against reporters who, so he claimed, invaded his privacy. This quote from former teammate Jorge Valdano summarizes the feelings of many:

He is someone many people want to emulate, a controversial figure, loved, hated, who stirs great social upheaval, especially in Argentina... Stressing his personal life is a mistake. Maradona has no peers inside the pitch, but he has turned his life into a show, and is now living a personal ordeal that should not be imitated. 1 (http://www.el-mundo.es/larevista/num103/textos/valdano1.html)

Career statistics



  • 1977-94 Argentina (91 appearances, 34 goals)
  • 21 appearances in four FIFA World Cup Championships (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994)
  • Argentina's second highest goal-scorer

Club honours

International honours

Coaching career

  • 1994 Mandiy de Corrientes
  • 1995 Racing Club de Avellaneda

Individual honours

  • 1979-81, 86 Argentine Football Writers' Footballer of the Year
  • 1986 Argentine Sports Writers' Sportsman of the Year
  • 1979, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1992 South American Footballer of the Year (El Mundo, Caracas)
  • 1986 Golden Ball for Best Player of the FIFA World Cup
  • 1986 European Footballer of the Year (France Football)
  • 1986-7 Best Footballer in the World (Onze)
  • 1996 Golden Ball for services to football (France Football)
  • 2000 "FIFA Goal of the Century" (1986 (2-0) v. England)
  • 1999 Argentine Sports Writers' Sportsman of the Century
  • 2000 "FIFA best football player of the century", people's choice.
  • 2005 Argentine Senate "Domingo Faustino Sarmiento" recognition for lifetime achievement.

External links

da:Diego Maradona de:Diego Armando Maradona es:Diego Armando Maradona fr:Diego Maradona he:דייגו_מארדונה id:Diego Maradona it:Diego Armando Maradona nl:Diego Maradona ja:ディエゴ・マラドーナ no:Diego Maradona pl:Diego Maradona pt:Diego Maradona sl:Diego Armando Maradona fi:Diego Maradona sv:Diego Armando Maradona zh:马拉多纳


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