The Legendary Little Master
Football has seen many legends. But some of them had written themselves in the ‘Hall of Fame’. Whom is concerned today is the Argentine striker Diego Maradona. On this day, 57 years ago, birth of this great child of football was happened. Soccer great Diego Maradona led Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup, and here is his life in synopsis.
Early Life :
Diego Armando Maradona was born on October 30, 1960, in Villa Fiorito, a province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The fifth of eight children raised by Diego Sr. and Doña Tota, Maradona grew up in a poor but close-knit household. He received his first soccer ball as a gift at age 3 and quickly became devoted to the game.
At 10, Maradona joined Los Cebollitas, a youth team of Argentinos Juniors, one of the biggest clubs in Argentina. Showing his prodigious ability at an early age, Maradona led Los Cebollitas to an incredible 136-game unbeaten streak. He made his professional debut for the senior team shortly before his 16th birthday.
Professional Career :
A short but fearless midfielder renowned for his ability to create scoring chances for himself and others, Maradona led club teams to championships in Argentina, Italy and Spain.
The pinnacle of his career came as a member of the Argentinean national team that won the 1986 World Cup. His performance there included two memorable goals in a quarter-final victory over England: The first was scored illegally with his left hand, which Maradona later claimed was the work of “the hand of God”; the second required no supernatural help, other than an otherworldly ability to dribble past an onslaught of defenders to find the back of the net. Altogether, Maradona played in four World Cups, and scored an impressive 34 goals in 91 international appearances for Argentina.
Despite his unquestioned brilliance on the pitch, the emotional Maradona became equally well known as a highly controversial figure. He became addicted to cocaine while playing in Spain in the 1980s and received a 15-month suspension after testing positive for the substance in 1991. Maradona endured another high-profile suspension three years later, this time for testing positive for ephedrine during the World Cup.
Maradona spent the twilight of his playing career in his home country, his physical skills diminished by mounting injuries and years of hard living. He announced his retirement on the eve of his birthday in 1997.
He played in many big clubs like Boca juniors, Napoli, Sevilla and even Barcelona. He managed to score 259 times in his club career.
Post playing Career :
The problems that plagued Maradona later in his playing career continued after his retirement. He was hospitalized for heart problems in 2000 and 2004, the second time requiring the use of a respirator to breathe properly. The following year he underwent gastric-bypass surgery to help stem his obesity.
An internet poll conducted by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association named Maradona the top player of the 20th century, but even that event was marked by controversy. Maradona chafed when a special panel was created to ensure that Pelé would be jointly honored, and then refused to share the stage with the Brazilian legend.
In 2008, Maradona was hired to coach the Argentinean national team. Although the Argentines boasted a talented squad headlined by Lionel Messi, perhaps the best player in the world, they were bounced from the 2010 World Cup with a 4-0 thrashing by Germany in the quarter-finals, and Maradona’s contract was not renewed.
Despite the public disappointments, Maradona remains beloved in Argentina as a native son who rose from humble beginnings to reach the apex of stardom on an international stage.
Born to a Roman Catholic family, his parents are Diego Maradona Senior and Dalma Salvadora Franco. Maradona married long-time fiancée Claudia Villafañe on 7 November 1984 in Buenos Aires, and they had two daughters, Dalma Nerea (born 2 April 1987) and Gianinna Dinorah (born 16 May 1989), by whom he became a grandfather in 2009. In his autobiography, Maradona admits he was not always faithful to Claudia, even though he refers to her as the love of his life.
Maradona and Villafañe divorced in 2004. Daughter Dalma has since asserted that the divorce was the best solution for all, as her parents remained on friendly terms. They travelled together to Naples for a series of homages in June 2005 and were seen together on other occasions, including the Argentina games during 2006 World Cup.
From the mid-1980s until 2004, Maradona was addicted to cocaine. He allegedly began using the drug in Barcelona in 1983. By the time he was playing for Napoli, he had a regular addiction, which began to interfere with his ability to play football.
In March 2009, Italian officials announced that Maradona still owed the Italian government €37 million in local taxes; €23.5 million of which was accrued interest on his original debt. They reported that thus far, Maradona has paid only €42,000, two luxury watches and a set of earrings.
One of his controversial quote is “[The goal was scored] a little with the head of Maradona, and a little with the hand of God.” (Regarding his controversial handball-goal at the 1986 World Cup.)” about the wc goal.
Argentine Primera División: 1981 Metropolitano
Copa del Rey: 1983
Copa de la Liga: 1983
Serie A: 1986–87, 1989–90
Coppa Italia: 1986–87
Uefa Cup: 1988–89
Supercoppa Italiana: 1990
FIFA World Youth Championship: 1979
FIFA World Cup: 1986
1990 FIFA World Cup: Runner-up
Artemio Franchi Trophy: 1993
Argentine Primera División top scorers (5): 1978 Metropolitano, 1979 Metropolitano, 1979 Nacional, 1980 Metropolitano, 1980 Nacional
FIFA World Youth Championship Golden Ball: 1979
FIFA World Youth Championship Silver Shoe: 1979
World Player of the Year (Guerin Sportivo): 1979
Argentine Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year (4): 1979, 1980, 1981, 1986
South American Footballer of the Year (2): (official award) 1979, 1980
Olimpia de Oro (2): 1979, 1986
Guerin d’Oro (Serie A Footballer of the Year): 1985
Onze de Bronze (2): 1985, 1988
UNICEF European Footballer of the Season: 1989–90
FIFA World Cup Golden Ball: 1986
FIFA World Cup Silver Shoe: 1986
FIFA World Cup Most Assists: 1986
FIFA World Cup All-Star Team (2): 1986, 1990
Onze d’Or (2): 1986, 1987
Argentine Sports Writers’ Sportsman of the Year: 1986
L’Équipe Champion of Champions: 1986
United Press International Athlete of the Year Award: 1986
World Soccer Awards Player of the Year: 1986
South American Player of the Year (4): (unofficial award) 1986, 1989, 1990, 1992
Capocannoniere (Serie A top scorer): 1987–88
Coppa Italia top scorer: 1987–88
FIFA World Cup Bronze Ball: 1990
South American Team of the Year: 1995
Ballon d’Or for services to football (France Football): 1996
World Team of the 20th Century: 1998
World Soccer The Greatest Players of the 20th century: (#2) 1999
Argentine Sports Writers’ Sportsman of the Century: 1999
Marca Leyenda: 1999
Number 10 retired by Napoli football team as a recognition to his contribution to the club: 2000
FIFA Player of the Century: 2000
FIFA Goal of the Century (for his second goal against England in 1986 FIFA World Cup quarter-final): 2002
FIFA World Cup Dream Team: 2002
Golden Foot: 2003, as football legend
FIFA 100 Greatest Living Footballers: 2004
Argentine Senate “Domingo Faustino Sarmiento”recognition for lifetime achievement: 2005
Globe Soccer Awards Player Career Award: 2012
World Soccer Greatest XI of all time: 2013
Napoli all-time Top Scorer
Italian Football Hall of Fame: 2014
L’Équipe’s top 50 South-American footballers in history: #2
FIFA World Cup All-Time Team
Maradona’s vision, passing, ball control, dribbling skills, speed, reflexes and reaction time was combined with his small size (1.65 m or 5 ft 5 in tall) giving him a low center of gravity which allowed him to maneuver better than most other football players; he would often dribble past multiple opposing players on a run. His presence on the pitch had a great effect on his team’s general performance, while he would often be singled out by the opposition. A precocious talent, Maradona was given the nickname “El Pibe de Oro” (“The Golden Boy”), a name that stuck with him throughout his career.
Many will come and many will go but no one could shadow the legacy of this great footballer. Wishing you Happy Birthday ‘Don’ Diego !