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Diego Maradona (30.10.1960 - 25.11.2020) - Argentinian football player.

 / Diego MaradonaDiego Armando Maradona is arguably the greatest footballer that has ever put on a pair of boots. He was originally born in the slums of Villa Fiorito near Buenos Aires as the fifth of eight children. Maradona entered professional football at the astonishing age of 15. By the time he turned 16, Diego was even called in the senior national team of Argentina. Regardless of his talent, Diego was considered too young by coach Cesar Menotti, who rejected him from his selection for the 1978 World Cup. Bitterly disappointed, Maradona watched the tournament from home as his country finished first. In the following four years, Diego dominated his country's league and easily entered the Argentine squad for Spain 1982.

Argentina passed the first stage of the tournament after losing to Belgium, but beating Hungary and Salvador. Maradona managed to leave his mark with two beautiful, but not critical goals. In the first match of the second stage, Maradona is manhandled by his Italian marker, Claudio Gentile. By the following game, Diego's frustration gets him sent off. With two losses, Argentina fail to advance and Diego is again suppressed from unleashing his full potential. Although unsuccessful, the brilliance of the Argentine footballer did not go unnoticed and after the World Cup, he is picked up by the European powerhouse Barcelona. By 1984, Maradona had established himself in Barca and was picked up by the Italian club Napoli.

At the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, Maradona made his return on the World stage in a spectacular manner. After leading his team to a quarter final against England, Diego steals the attention of millions with both his controversial character and technical brilliance. The fuss around the Argentina-England encounter was further elevated by the Falkland Islands conflict, which at that time had turned both countries against each other. Diego opened the game 1-0 by striking the ball with his hand. Unnoticed by the referees, it was ruled a goal. Five minutes later, Maradona single handedly took the ball through the entire English defense with a slalom from midfield right down to the goal. After the match, when confronted with the video footage of the illegal goal, Maradona simply replied "Even if there was a hand, it must have been the hand of God." Maradona silenced his critics by deciding the following semi and final matches. By scoring two goals in the first and with an assist in the second, Maradona practically earned the World Cup for his nation. Maradona's influence on his teammates was carried over to his club side Napoli, as they reached unprecedented heights, winning their first and second Scudetto (1997 and 1990) and the UEFA Cup in 1988/99.

At Italy 1990, all eyes were on Argentina and its brightest star Diego Maradona. Diego came close to replicating his previous success. With Maradona's ability, Argentina defeated Brazil, Yugoslavia and Italy on its way to the final. Most memorable is the semi-final match between Argentina and Italy played at Diego's club home Naples. To the torment of Maradona, the fans at his own club stadium booed him during the match. Nevertheless, he eliminated Italy by scoring in the penalty shootout. The final of the 1990 World Cup, left Diego helpless as Argentina were defeated 0-1 from West Germany with a goal from a questionable penalty.

Since the loss against West Germany, Maradona's career plummeted. In March of 1991, he tested positive for doping and was banned from football for 15 months. Maradona refused to return back to Napoli after the incident and transferred to Sevilla for a year. He eventually went back to Argentina with Newell's Old Boys.

The 1994 World Cup verified that Diego's career in national football is over. He was suspended from the cup after failing another doping test. His team was hurt by this and eventually got eliminated by Romania in the second stage. Shortly after this failure, Diego took on a new career path as a coach. He failed miserably again, unable to remain at a single club for more than four months. By 1995, Maradona was forced to return to the game as a player. He went back to his former club Boca Juniors, and remained there until his last match on 25th of October 1997. Five days later, during his 37th birthday, Maradona announced his retirement from football. Up until 2001, Diego remained away from the playing pitch, periodically entering rehab for cocaine abuse. Diego played in his farewell match on the 10th of November 2001 against a team comprised by some of the greatest footballers in the game including Ferrara, Suker, Stoichkov, Cantona, Higuita, and Romario. One year earlier, Maradona was voted Best Football Player of the Century by a global Internet poll. Controversy was stirred yet again, by his nearly unanimous victory, as FIFA (who find Maradona's image as the King of Football unacceptable) decided to give the same award to Pel as the Best Footballer for the first half of the century.

The great football player died on November 25, 2020.



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