The world of sports is mourning the death of Footballer, who took the game to the new heights. The player who was so famous and loved that his worst act of scoring the goal with his hand, is celebrated and remembered like it was something to cherish about.
Diego Armando Maradona was only 5 feet 5 inches tall, came from a poor family, but he stunned the Football world in 1979 at the Junior Football World Cup. The teenager scored 3 goals in the group stage to help Argentina top the group. Maradona scored again in the Quarterfinal against Algeria, which was followed by a goal against Uruguay in semifinal and Soviet Union in the final. He won Golden boot with 6 goals. Lionel Messi and Maradona are only two Footballers to win Golden boot at Junior and Senior World Cup.
In 1982 he broke the record of most expensive transfer and was sold to FC Barcelona for £5 million. Such was his charisma that even the Real Madrid fans used to cheer for him in El Classico, one of the biggest fixtures in the Football world. He won Copa Del Rey, Copa de La Liga and Supercopa de Espana with Barcelona in 1983.
Next two seasons at Barcelona were full of injuries and controversies for Maradona, as he lost his temper in 1984 Copa Del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao and started a fight, which ended up becoming one of the worst brawls in the Football field. He suffered ankle injuries and one of the reasons was, him being most fouled players due to his game style.
Due to Maradona’s problems with the executives at the Barcelona and his issues with the fellow players, Barcelona wanted to get rid of him and sold him to Napoli for £6.9 million. The fee could have been much more if there were no issues apart from his playing abilities. The Napoli fans worshipped Maradona like anything, as they felt like their messiah and the saviour had arrived.
The biggest moments of his career came in the 1986 World Cup, when Maradona led the Argentinian team from the front and started by assisting all three goals in opening match against South Korea. Maradona kept them unbeaten by scoring in the match against Italy, which was equaliser after the Italian took lead first.
In the big Quarterfinal clash, England were a very strong team, but Maradona changed everything in first 10 minutes of the second half. He scored the famous “Hand of the God” goal, which was an illegal goal, but he made it look like he had scored with his head. English players protested but the referee was unmoved, who cannot be blamed, as not many could figure it out without watching the replay.
After only 4 minutes, Maradona dodged more than half of the English team and took the ball from his side to the English goal post alone and scored the goal, which was later voted as the goal of the century. His amazing performance helped Argentina reach the World Cup semifinal, where he scored two more goals against Belgium to make Argentina’s place in the final.
In the final, Argentina had a lead of 2-0 after 56 minutes, but West Germany turned it around in 10 minutes and levelled it at 2-2 after 83 minutes. The World Cup seemed to be slipping from Argentina’s hands as the momentum was on Germany’s side. But Maradona played a beautiful ball towards Jorge Luis Buruchagga, who scored the World Cup winning goal for Argentina.
Maradona had direct involvement in 10 of the 14 goals scored by Argentina in 1986 World Cup, had more than half of Argentina’s shots on goal in the campaign and was awarded Man of the tournament award for one of the most dominating performances.
The highest point of his International career helped Maradona in the Club football as well. It gave him and his team-mates at Napoli extra confidence and they went on to win Serie A league title for the first time in history in 1986-1987. Maradona scored 10 goals in 29 games in league whereas he also helped Napoli win Coppa Italia, only for the third time, by scoring 7 goals in 10 games. It started huge celebrations in Napoli, as they felt like they finished the dominance of teams like Juventus and the clubs from Milan.
Maradona also won UEFA Cup with Napoli in 1988-1989 but his most successful season as a player with Napoli came in 1989-1990, when he scored 16 goals in 28 games and helped them win second Serie A title. They also won Italian Super Cup that year, beating Juventus by a big margin of 5-1 in the final.
In 1990 World Cup, Maradona led his team once again, but this time he could not influence them like 1986, as he had a problem with his ankle. He still managed to play most of the matches and scored a penalty kick in shootout against Italy in the semifinal. It was played in Napoli’s home stadium, so the place was familiar for him. West Germany took revenge against Argentina in the final as they scored the only goal of the match on penalty in the latter stages of the match.
There were ups and downs in his career after that, as Maradona left Napoli in 1992 and joined Spanish club Sevilla. He had to go back to home country Argentina after only one more season in La Liga. There were injuries and failed drug tests, which affected his career after that. Maradona played just two matches in the 1994 World Cup, before failing the drug test and although he denied using performance enhancing intentionally, he could not play the tournament anymore.
The legend went on to manage Argentinian national team at 2010 World Cup but his contract was not renewed after they failed to go past Germany in the Quarterfinal. But still he was loved and idolised by Lionel Messi, the captain of Argentinian team.
Maradona had to go through a brain surgery in November 2020 and although it did not look very serious initially and he was released from the hospital on 12 November, but he lost his life due to a cardiac arrest on 25 November 2020.
There would be 3 days of mourning in Argentina and all the players in Football world expressed their sadness on his demise. Many of his fans believed Maradona is not dead, as he will live in the hearts of Football fans forever.
Writer is a sports lover, who passionately watches Cricket, Football, Tennis and especially all sports featuring Pakistan. Previously worked for 4 mainstream channels Dawn, Samaa, Dunya and 92 News in past. Currently working with GNN.