Diego Maradona: Unique career
Maradona, also known as “the hand of God”, made headlines during and after his career – on and off the pitch. Between the world championship title and drug addiction, there were moving decades full of highly emotional successes and eccentric debauchery behind the man who rose to the Star Olympics from a poor background – but never forgot his origins. A look back at the life of a footballer as it has not existed since
Maradona, the poor child
Diego Armando Maradona was born on October 30, 1960 in Lanús as the fifth of eight children and the first son of a working-class family. He grew up in the poor district of Villa Fiorito on the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires. He was discovered by a talent scout at the age of nine.In the La Boca district of Buenos Aires, Maradona has been honored as a folk hero for years: a (admittedly not exactly convincing) statue of Maradona looks out over the streets where his career took off – and later ended.One of the most legendary stadiums in the world is also located in La Boca: “La Bombonera”, the home of the multiple Argentine champion Boca Juniors, where Diego Maradona became a star from 1981 onwards. He had previously earned his first spurs at the Argentinos Juniors club. At 19, Maradona was South America’s annual footballer.
Maradona, the Italian
Maradona is also admired – as here with a shrine – in his second home in Naples, Italy: While moving to Europe in 1982 initially led him to FC Barcelona, he found fulfillment at SSC Napoli from 1984 to 1991 – and brought the club championship titles and the 1989 championship Uefa cup. The fans thank him to this day with comparisons of God.In general, Maradona was always venerated like a saint, many even consider him a god. The Iglesia Maradoniana (Church of Maradona) was founded in Rosario, and its followers refer to the star as “D10S”. “Dios” means God, 10 is Maradona’s legendary shirt number.
Maradona, the national player
In 1977 Maradona played for the Argentine national team for the first time at the age of 16, but was not nominated for the 1978 World Cup in her own country. Only four years later he was allowed to contest a world championship with the “Albiceleste”. However, the 1986 World Cup in Mexico became legendary.His “miracle” with the left made him world famous: In 1986 Diego Maradona maneuvered the ball into the goal in the quarter-finals against England at the World Cup in Mexico. When asked about the violation of the rules, he later said his legendary saying: “It was the head of Maradona and the hand of God”.(Incidentally, in a 2008 interview with the British newspaper The Sun, Maradona said: “If I could, I would apologize, go back and change history.”) Hardly any World Cup has been so dominated by a player as the one in Mexico in 1986 by Maradona: against England he not only scored the controversial goal, but also the goal of the century – with a divine dribble from the center line. In the final he won with Argentina against Germany and became world champion – and player of the tournament.
Incidentally, Maradona never won the Copa America: In 1979 he was eliminated in the preliminary round with Argentina, in 1987 it was only enough for fourth place in his own country, and in 1989 he was third. When Argentina won the tournament in 1991 and 1993, Maradona was not there – because he was injured and due to a 15-month suspension.
Maradona, the tragic figure
The suspension was the result of drug and doping allegations; In 1991 Maradona was arrested during a raid in Naples. In court he was given, among other things, an addiction treatment. It was only to be the beginning of a whole series of scandals and excesses.
Maradona the boxer
Maradona was always up for eccentric excursions: In 1996 he entered the boxing ring in Cordoba against the former Argentine champion Falucho Laciar. Maradona did well in the truest sense of the word: after three rounds the fight was scored as a draw.
At the Boca Juniors, Maradona’s active career finally came to an end. In 1995 he celebrated his comeback with his heart club – but without success. Once he missed five penalties in a row, and doping allegations increased. When cocaine was detected after a game in 1997, he was suspended again and ended his career.
Maradona, the addict
In 2000 Maradona’s story of suffering began: after an overdose of cocaine, Maradona suffered a severe heart attack. As a result, he underwent drug rehab in Cuba for six months. Four years later, the health problems continued, Maradona had to go to the intensive care unit and a mental hospital for rehabilitation.Maradona, the recovered
Maradona’s condition did not improve until 2005 after rehab. Above all, a stomach reduction helped him to get his chronic obesity under control. From then on, the problem child was seen more in public again.
Maradona, the socialist
During the cure in Cuba, Maradona got a Che Guevara tattoo and became friends with the socialist leader Fidel Castro. Maradona never made a secret of his political convictions – he supported left-wing politicians like Nestor Kirchner and Nicolas Maduro and protested against US politics.
Maradona, the family man
Here Diego Maradona celebrated a victory for the national team at the 2006 World Cup – together with his family. Speaking of which: In addition to his well-known children, Maradona also had “surprising” offspring. His son Diego Armando jr. from the time in Naples he only recognized in 2016, in 2019 he confessed to three other children from the time of his cure in Cuba.
Maradona, the trainer
In 2008, Diego Maradona took over the role of the Argentine national coach – without any significant coaching experience. But even he did not report any football successes to his home country: At the 2010 World Cup, Maradona and Argentina were eliminated in the quarter-finals against Germany – and was subsequently dismissed.
Excursions into show business were also not far from Diego Maradona: in 2005, for example, he ventured onto Italian television with the dance show “Ballando con le stelle” – and there with dance partner Angela Panico on the floor. On his own Argentinian TV show “La Noche del 10”, he spoke to celebrities from all over the world – including Pelé and Fidel Castro. Maradona was often in the spotlight, and not just because of his eccentricity. Five documentaries looked at the life of the world star in the past few years – most recently in 2019 “Diego Maradona” by Asif Kapadia. The great director Emir Kusturica dedicated a very personal homage to his idol in 2006 with “Maradona by Kusturica”.
Maradona, the player of the century
Maradona – the best ever? In any case, Maradona won the internet vote for the best player of the last century among the fans. However, due to his drug history, FIFA needed a more marketable candidate – and had a jury also choose Pele. But Maradona had the hearts of the crowd.In the media, “Maradona” was sometimes even used as a synonym for a great footballer: Andreas Herzog was considered an Alpine Maradona,George Hagi was considered an Carpathians Maradona , Lionel Messi, like some of his predecessors, became a “new Maradona” and, if he performed particularly well, even became a “Messidona”. Not to be forgotten: Guido Buchwald, who was nicknamed “Diego” at the 1990 World Cup because of his technique.
Maradona, the Pope’s hero
Diego Maradona presented his compatriot Pope Francis, a great football fan, with an Argentina jersey with the legendary Maradona number 10 at an interfaith football tournament in 2014.