Diego Armando Maradona is a legend in the world of soccer or football, whatever you call it. His exploits in the field have earned him that moniker. Because of his inherent ability to dribble past defenders, give almost perfect passes, and of course score memorable goals is what made him a footballing icon in the 80s. But the undeniable talent and his hard work propelled him to win championships for his teams: in both club and national levels. His playing style, success, and on-field personality made fans across the world. But it was not all sunshine and daisies as the ace Argentinian faced problems with some inner-demons and personal issues. Here is the story of Diego Armando Maradona.
Who Was Diego Maradona?
Well, Diego Armando Maradona was an Argentinean football legend. He was also regarded as one of the best players worldwide when it comes to soccer. He played for his home team, Argentina. However, he also played football in countries such as Spain and Italy.
The legendary footballer was known also for his use of drugs and other performance enhancers. After his football career ended, he often struggled with health complications.
Diego Maradona Early Life & Childhood
Diego Armando Maradona was born on October 30, 1960, in Villa Fiorito. This is a province found in Argentina’s Buenos Aires. He was the fifth born of eight children. Maradona was raised by his father Diego Sr. and his mother Dona Tota.
His early childhood life was in a close-knitted household. However, he grew up in a poor home. It said that he first received a soccer ball as a gift when he was 3 years. He quickly got devoted to the game soon after.
When he was 10 years, he joined Los Cebollitas. This is a youth of Argentinos Juniors and it’s considered to be one of the biggest football clubs in Argentina. His brilliance was visible even at a young age. He was the one who led the Los Cebollitas team in an incredible and unbeaten 136-game streak. Shortly after his 16th birthday, he joined the senior team.
Diego Maradona Personal Life
Maradona married Claudia Villafane on November 7th, 1989. This was after 13 years of dating and engagement. However, a year into their marriage, Cristina Sinagra claimed that the football legend was the father of her child.
But Claudia didn’t actually begin divorce proceedings till 1998. They officially divorced in 2004. Claudia had a successful career as an actress. She has also been a contestant on the Celebrity Master Chef in Argentina
His last girlfriend was Rocio Oliva. The pair met in 2012 and Maradona fell over heels for her. They got engaged in February 2014 and actually held a party in Rome to celebrate. But following a series of blazing rows, the pair broke up in 2018.
The footballer had at least eight children who are known. He had two daughters with his ex-wife, he had a son with a Naples woman, three Cuban children, a young son called Diego, a daughter named Jana, and of course, his other son Diego Sinagra who plays football in Italy.
After his first divorce, Maradona didn’t marry again. Before dating Rocio Oliva, he had dated Veronica Ojeda who also had his child.
His Net Worth
According to Goal.com, Maradona’s net worth is estimated to be only $100,000. Despite having a brilliant career and some of the renowned footballers in the history of the world, his net worth was quite small at the time of his passing.
During his life, he got numerous endorsements in football contracts, advertisement deals, and investments. In the early 1990s, he was involved in a long-running dispute with the Italian government over his taxes. He had a reported $42m left to pay to the Italian authorities.
He was known to be a fearless midfielder. Throughout his professional career, Maradona was brilliant in creating scoring chances for himself and his teammates. That’s why he was able to lead several club teams to championships in countries such as Spain, Italy, and Argentina.
Argentinos juniors (1976–1981)
The football legend spent five years in Argentinos Juniors. He made a total of 167 appearances and scored 115 goals before him his $4 million transfer to Boca Junior.
Boca Juniors’ (1981–1982)
He made a brilliant debut while with this team, scoring two of the winning 4 goals against Talleres de Cordoba. It’s during this time that he won the Argentine championship with the Boca juniors.
From Boca, Maradona joined Barcelona for a then world-record fee of $7.6 million. While at Bara, he scored an impressive 38 goals in the 58 matches. He also won a Copa Del Rey, Spanish Super Cup, and a Copa de la Liga.
However, he was banned due to his drug addiction problem but he never got a chance to serve his ban as he chose to join the Serie A side with Napoli.
While here, he helped the Napoli team win two Serie A titles as well as Coppa Italia’s success and the UEFA cup. even though he played the creative role of an attacking midfielder, he was the top scorer in 1987-88’s Serie A. he scored a total of 115 goals making him an all-time top goal scorer for Napoli before Marek Hamsik broke it in 2017.
According to him, he was supposed to leave the club after the 1990 World Cup. However, it said that the Napoli cub authorities reneged on the promise. This ended causing him a serious mental setback. Diego Armando Maradona took it hard and went back to do drugs.
He later tested positive for cocaine drug use. He was shortly thereafter given a 15-month ban. After serving the ban, Maradona left Napoleon’s side in disgrace in 1992. Despite Marseille showing interest in him, he signed for Sevilla.
Diego Armando Maradona played for Sevilla for one year only. He wore the club’s shirt only 29 times and ended up scored a total of 7 goals. As time went by, things continued to unravel for him. But his series of bad luck continued to follow him.
Maradona told his teammates that he felt like he was being followed around. This was actually true because Sevilla had hired a detective. This created a divide between him and the club’s management.
Newell’s Old Boys (1993–1994)
While he was here, he only made a handful of appearances for this Rosario club. It was during this time that Lionel Messi was starting his career at the same club aged 13. In total, he made 5 appearances and didn’t score any goal. His time here was fleeting.
Boca Juniors’ (1995–1997)
He comes back to play for Boca Juniors and he’s welcomed with a special party from fans. His time here isn’t bad because he goes ahead to score a penalty and the team won the match 4-2 against Argentinos Juniors. However, he is found positive again for a drug test. Maradona plays his last match with Boca in October 1997. The team won 2- away against River Plate.
Diego Armando Maradona International Career
While playing for the Argentina national team, Maradona made a total of 9 appearances and scored 34 goals. The football legend made his full international debut at just 16 years. This was in February 1977 when his national team was playing against Hungary.
However, he was soon left to go by the Argentine squad in the 1978 world cup. This is because the coach felt he was still young at 17 years. However, he went ahead to play in the 1979 FIFA World Youth Championship in Japan. The highlight of this event is that he emerged as the tournament’s star. Argentina won the finals with a 3-1 score over the Soviet Union.
He joined the senior’s team and in June 1979, he scored his first international goal as a senior player. This is when Argentina was playing Scotland and the team won 3-1. In addition to that, he went to play for Argentina in two 1979 Copa America ties.
1982 World Cup
This was the first time Maradona played his first World Cup tournament in his new country of residence, Spain. He played in all five matches without being substituted. However, he was fouled repeatedly during all his appearances. With the violent fouls increasing, he was sent off in the remaining game.
1986 World Cup
At this point, he was mature and he captained the Argentinian side. He led the team to victory in Mexico. Throughout the championship, Maradona has displayed brilliance and he had dominated most games. He played in all games, making five assists and scoring five goals.
Maradona’s performance against England is what led to the phrase “Hand of God”. This was a hotly contested goal and one of the most contentious moments in the history of the World Cup.
1990 World Cup
He captained his national team again in Italy. However, his performance wasn’t great because he suffered an ankle injury. His presence wasn’t that dominant and Argentina went on to lose the opening game against Cameroon.
It’s no shock that the team was almost eliminated from the World Cup games in the first round. However, they reached the semi-finals and eventual finals where they lost to West Germany.
1994 World Cup
It happened in the US and Diego Armando Maradona only played in two games. He scored a goal against Greece but he was sent home after failing a drug test. He was found to be using ephedrine doping. But he still gave fans remarkable celebrations while on the sidelines.
This was his last international game. His failed drug test during the most crucial game for his national team was a signal to the end of his international career that had lasted for 17 years.
Individual Honors of Diego Maradona
During his football career, Diego Armando Maradona won numerous awards. They include:
- 2X Top Scorer: in Seria A and Coppa Italia
- 4X Footballer of the Year: for his national team Argentina
- 1X Under 20 World Cup Champion: Argentina U2
FIFA Player of the Century Award
This is definitely his biggest award ever. The world governing body decided to create an honor for the best football player for the last 100 years at the turn of the century. This was intended to be a joint award because the organizers were unable to separate between Pele and Maradona.
Life After Soccer of Diego Maradona
His life off the pitch somehow resembled his life on the pitch. Troubles and controversies followed him everywhere. In 2000 and 2004, he was hospitalized for heart problems. In fact, the second time he was hospitalized, he required a respirator to facilitate his breathing. He successfully underwent gastric-bypass surgery the next year.
Diego Maradona Coaching Career
The Diego Maradona documentary that was released in 2019 follows his life including his coaching career. Some of his fans definitely loved it. In 2008, he was appointed as the head coach of the Argentinean national team. However, the team was beaten 4-0 by Germany and therefore his contract wasn’t renewed.
FAQ About Diego Armando Maradona
Q: Why People Called Him Hand of God?
A: the Diego Maradona hand of God reference was used to describe a goal the Argentine footballer scored during the 1986 FIFA World Cup between Argentina vs England in the Quarter Finals. The goal was scored on 22nd June 1986 in Mexico’s Azteca Stadium.
The hand of god was considered to be a scrappy goal by pundits. It’s due to the fact that Maradona had jammed the ball in with an upraised fist. While England protested about it and considered it a handball, the referee ignored them and the goal was, therefore, allowed to stand.
Q: Why Was He Suspended in 1991?
A: three weeks after testing positive for cocaine, Diego Armando Maradona was suspended in 1991. He was given a 15-month suspension. His cocaine addiction is said to have been born in Barcelona. Diego Maradona’s drug addiction wasn’t something new to the public.
Q: How Did He End His International Career?
A: his international career with Argentina earned him 91 caps. Besides that, he had scored a total of 34 goals. Before he retired, he had played in Europe for FC before heading to SSC Napoli. His career has littered with success.
After his cocaine suspension, he played for Spain’s Sevilla and Newell’s Old Boys. However, he returned to Boca Juniors in 1995 where he played his last match in October 1997.
Q: Did Diego Maradona Smoke?
A: He definitely did. There are so many instances where he was caught in public with a cigar in his mouth. He used to puff these cigars in public stadiums, despite smoking being banned in these places by FIFA.
Q: Did Diego Maradona Drink Alcohol?
A: as a known drug abuser and a cigar smoker, Maradona also drank alcohol. During his lifetime, several news outlets reported his alcohol drinking problem and his alcohol addiction. For instance, in 2007, he was treated for hepatitis as well as the effects of alcohol abuse. Previously, he had quit drinking alcohol for a few months only.
Controversies about Diego Armando Maradona
The controversy is something that followed this football legend, on and off the pitch. Life of scandals was something synonymous with this soccer star’s life. He was a charming footballer who led a vibrant life. However, he broke a lot of rules professionally and in his private life.
Let’s take a look at this, the first time he arrived in Europe to play for Barcelona, he wouldn’t back down from a flight and he right away clashed with the club’s management.
It’s also during his stint in Barcelona that he began to use cocaine frequently. However, this addiction only became apparent later on.
He was also known to be always the main protagonist in an all-in brawl with almost the entire team in Bilbao. He would fly kicks to the opposing players. His violent acts actually led him to get banned and that’s when he decided that he would quit Spanish football. This is because he didn’t want to serve his suspension and as a result, he moved to Napoli.
Life in the Italian club made him thrive. He felt like a god while on the pitch. In real life, he still remained to be a man and that’s when his marriage to Claudia Villafane, his childhood sweetheart took a turn to the worst.
With his cocaine addiction getting out of hand, the relationship became tumultuous and they later divorced. His addition also resulted in the club directors rebuking him.
This still got worse with his controversial life worsening. It was also rumored that he had close ties to the Neapolitan mafia. Additionally, he was also found to be the legitimate father to Diego Jr. He only later admitted that this is actually his son after so much insistence. This would lead to tax evasions and paternity payouts in Italy and this life followed him many decades later.
His drug problem and weight gain meant he couldn’t be an efficient player. So, Napoli severed ties with him. His days in the Italian league came to a permanent stop when he was busted in a drug test in 1991. He received a 15-month ban for this.
While he couldn’t continue playing for Napoli, he still enjoyed his professional football career. However, there was less magic in it with the luster fading off. But this doesn’t mean that he was bad in the field. He was still able to play for Argentina in the 1994 World Cup.
However, this proved to be his last mission internationally. He was caught doping again when he tested positive for ephedrine. The FIFA World Cup Committee promptly kicked him out.
While one would expect him to learn from his mistakes, his life was still fueled by chaos. In 1998, he was given a suspended jail sentence for shooting at journalists.
The legend Maradona had serious drug addiction problems. He had been in and out of rehab for the same issues. In the early 2000s for instance, he had a treatment for drug and alcohol addiction and he suffered a drastic weight gain.
He also had heart problems having suffered a heart attack in 2004.
FIFA World Cup 2010 and 2018
In 2010, he was tasked to manage the Argentinian team at the 200 World Cup in South Africa. However, his management was unsuccessful because the team ended up losing 4-0 to Germany.
During the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he attracted much attention while in the stands. Well, this was due to his manic goal celebrations as well as rude gestures.
Maradona’s final speech/interview was with Clarin, an Argentinian newspaper. During his chat with the paper, he admitted that before his return to football as the Gimnasia manager, he wondered if people still loved him. However, according to him, he felt that love with people is never going to end.
He went on to say that he will be eternally grateful to the people. This is due to the warm welcoming experience he had as he rejoined the Argentine football.
Diego Maradona’s Death
Diego Armando Maradona died on 25th November 2020 at the age of 60. His death sparked a global outpouring of grief. At the time of his death, he was still recovering from emergency brain surgery.
The Highs of his Career
He was an inspirational player and captain who repeatedly led his teammates in winning awards. His highs feature the likes of:
- The goal of the Century against England
- Winning 2 Serie A titles
- FIFA Player of the Century
The Lows of His Career
- Despite being a superstar, his life was marked by several low moments including:
- Losing the 1990 World Cup Finals when he was the national team’s captain
- Drug controversies that saw him getting removed from the World Cup team
- Argentina losing its 2010 World Cup bid when he was the coach
The Best Football Player Ever?
There’s no doubt that Maradona had an illustrious football career. He was a football genius and definitely one of the best players in the 20th century. In most teams he played for, they went ahead to win several awards thanks to his ability to create scoring chances. Maradona’s importance and legacy will live on for decades to come.
However, his life was full of controversies as well. He was known for his foul mouth. Besides that, he was banned at least two times due to his drug use. His relationships weren’t great at all and by the time he was dying, he only had around $100,000 to his name.
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