Diego Maradona was an Argentine football player who is regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time. His vision, passion, dribbling skills, and presence made him one of the best to ever step on the field. He earned the nickname “El Pibe de Oro“ (“The Golden Boy”) that stuck with him throughout his career. Maradona was raised in a very poor family and beat all odds to rise to the top. His incredible success story is an inspiration to people all around the world.
Diego Armando Maradona was born on 30 October 1960 in Lanus, Buenos Aires. He was raised in a very poor family and moved to a new town when he was a year old. His father worked at a chemicals factory. In 1950, they moved to Buenos Aires. AT age three, Maradona received his first football as a gift. Soon, he became devoted to the game. At age eight, a talent scout spotted Maradona while he was played in his neighbourhood club. At the age of 12, he started playing for a club called Los Cebollitas (The Little Onions). He amused and shocked the audience with his incredible techniques and skills with the ball. He named Brazilian playmaker Rivellino and Manchester United winger George Best as his inspirations while growing up.
At the age of 16, Maradona made his professional debut for Argentinos Juniors. After the game, Maradona said, “That day I felt I had held the sky in my hands.” He played for the club for four years, from 1976 to 1981. During this time, he received various offers to join other clubs. Nonetheless, Maradona chose to play for Boca Juniors, the club he always wanted to play for.
Maradona played his first World Cup in the year 1982. Unfortunately, he did not perform to expectations and Argentina couldn’t win the cup. After the World Cup, he was transferred to Barcelona FC. Due to injuries and controversial incidents on the field, Maradona had a difficult tenure in Barcelona. During the 1984 Copa del Rey final, Maradona was involved in a serious fight against Athletic Bilbao. Fans began throwing solid objects at the coaches, players, and almost sixty people were injured. The incident led to Maradona’s transfer out of the club. In the same year, he joined another club, Napoli. At Napoli, Maradona reached the peak of his professional career.
In 1986, Maradona captained the Argentina team to victory in the 1986 World Cup. In 1990, yet again, he captained Argentina to yet another World Cup final. Unfortunately, they lost to West Germany. Maradona is widely regarded as the best player of his generation. In the year 2000, he was voted as the ‘FIFA Player of the Century.’ In addition to his playing ability, Maradona’s work ethic helped him improve the technical aspect of his game in training.
His former manager Menotti once said, “I’m always cautious about using the word ‘genius’. I find it hard to apply that even to Mozart. The beauty of Diego’s game has a hereditary element – his natural ease with the ball – but it also owes a lot to his ability to learn. A lot of those brushstrokes, those strokes of ‘genius’, are in fact a product of his hard work. Diego worked very hard to be the best.”
Struggles faced by Maradona
While playing for Napoli, Maradona’s cocaine use increased and he received fines from his club for missing games and practices. At the 1994 World Cup, he failed his drug test which ended his international career. It lasted for 17 years and yielded 34 goals from 91 games, including one winner’s medal and one runners-up medal in the World Cup.
While he earned critical acclaim from people all around the world, Maradona drew criticism for his temper both on and off the pitch. Zlatan Ibrahimović said that his off-field behaviour did not matter and he should only be judged for his on the field. “For me, Maradona is more than football. What he did as a footballer, in my opinion, will be remembered forever. When you see number 10 who do you think about? Maradona. It is a symbol, even today there are those who choose that number for him.”
Lessons we can learn
Although being born in a poor family, Maradona went on to become one of the greatest athletes of all time. His immense talent, passion, and determination helped him along the way to reach the top. There is no shortcut to success. Hard work is the only key to achieving it. It teaches us discipline, dedication, and motivates us towards our goals.
When did Maradona win the football World Cup?
Maradona captained the Argentina team to victory at the 1986 World Cup.
When did Maradona pass away?
On 25 November 2020, Maradona suffered a heart attack at his home following brain surgery. He passed away at the age of 60.
How many goals has he scored during his club career?
He played 490 official club games during his 21-year professional career, scoring 259 goals.