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An appreciation of soccer legend Diego Maradona

Diego Armando Maradona passed away at the age of 60. He had brain surgery Nov. 11 and on Nov. 25 suffered a heart attack at his home in Tigre, Argentina.

Legacy as a player

Nowadays everybody talks about who’s better between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and who’s the best ever, but for many years that debate was centered around Maradona and Pele).

In this file photo taken on May 22, 1986 Argentine football star Diego Maradona, wearing a diamond earring.
Jorge Duran / AFP

The Argentinian, also known as “Pelusa” or the “Golden Boy”, did memorable things on the pitch, including “The Hand of God” and the popularly proclaimed “Goal of the Century” (against England in the 1986 World Cup).

As a player, Maradona appeared in three World Cups (1986, ’90, and ’94). He led Argentina to the title in 1986 and to the grand finale in 1990, but he was suspended in 1994 two games into the tournament after failing a drug test (ephedrine).

He also won the FIFA World Youth Championship with Argentina in 1979.

Regarding professional soccer clubs, he played for Argentinos Junior, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla, and Newell’s Old Boys.

He transformed Napoli into an Italian powerhouse in the ’80s after winning the Serie A title two times (1986-87 and 1989-90); they haven’t won the domestic title since. He also won the Copa Del Rey, Supercopa de Espana, and Primera Division in Argentina.

He will always be remembered for his impeccable dribbling, his artistic free-kicks, and his big smile when playing. He was fearless and did everything he could to help his team.

In Argentina, Maradona is considered a god, but putting his ego aside, several years ago he said: “I have seen the player who will inherit my place in Argentine football and his name is Messi. Messi is a genius.”

Maradona was always authentic and never cared what others had to say. Many years after:

“The Hand of God” he said: “If I could apologize and go back and change history I would. But the goal is still a goal, Argentina became world champions and I was the best player in the world”.

Coaching Career

His first coaching experiences were in 1994 and ’95 with Textil Mandiyu and Racing Club (while he couldn’t play), but his finest moment as a coach came in 2010, when he coached Argentina in the 2010 World Cup.

Unfortunately, he failed to replicate his success as a player. Argentina was eliminated in the Round of 8 (Germany beat them 4-0).

After that life-fulfilling experience, he coached several clubs, including Al-Wasl (United Arab Emirates), Al-Fujairah (United Arab Emirates), Dorados (Mexico), and Gimnasia La Plata (Argentina), but never won anything important.

Personal Life

After the drug test incident in 1994, Maradona’s actions off the field attracted more attention and his “wild ways” provoked some rejection.

He served a 15-month sanction imposed by FIFA and then he returned to Argentina to play for Boca Juniors. He played intermittently until 1997 when he announced his retirement.

During that period, he acknowledged being addicted to cocaine and sought professional help on several occasions, but it ended up being a battle that he fought until the end of his days.

He married Claudia Villafane in 1989 and had two daughters (Dalma and Gianinna) with her. They divorced in 1998. Maradona is also the father of Diego Maradona Jr. (with Cristiana Sinagra).

Many years later, at a certain point in time, he became more political and gave his support to huge figures such as Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. He once said: “I hate everything that comes from the United States. I hate it with all my strength.”

His life inspired many songs and films, but “Diego Maradona” by Asif Kapadia is probably the best.


As expected, the news of Maradona’s death caused a stir around the world, including former and current soccer players, clubs, sports networks, associations, and more.

You can say whatever you want about Maradona off the field, but on the field, he was a magician, and without him, there would be no Zidanes, Messis nor Ronaldos.

Here are some of the “soccersphere” reactions over social media:



Other superstars outside of soccer paid tribute, too:


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