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Business News/ Sports / Football News/  Diego Maradona's birthday: Remembering the ‘greatest footballer of all time’
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Diego Maradona's birthday: Remembering the ‘greatest footballer of all time’

Diego Maradona played 490 official club games during his 21-year professional career, scoring 259 goals. For Argentina, he played 91 games and scored 34 goals

Volume 2, Page 13, Picture 4, 10234981, Sport, Football, 1986, World Cup Final, (Mexico City), Argentina Captain, Diego Maradona holds the World Cup trophy whilst being carried on his team-mates' shoulders (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images) (Bob Thomas/Getty Images)Premium
Volume 2, Page 13, Picture 4, 10234981, Sport, Football, 1986, World Cup Final, (Mexico City), Argentina Captain, Diego Maradona holds the World Cup trophy whilst being carried on his team-mates' shoulders (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images) (Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

Diego Maradona (Diego Armando Maradona), arguably the greatest football player of all time, was born on October 30, 1960, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

He grew up under poor conditions in Villa Fiorito near Buenos Aires. He was the fourth child of Tota and Chitori Maradona. A 3-year-old Diego received a football as a birthday present from a cousin, and it soon became his dear companion.

Maradona displayed football talent at a very early age. At the age of eight, he joined Las Cebollitas (“The Little Onions"), a boys’ team that went on to win 136 consecutive games and a national championship. 

Early years

Maradona signed with Argentinos Juniors at age 14. He made his first-division debut in 1976. He was the youngest Argentine to make his debut with the national team. 

Maradona was excluded from the 1978 World Cup-winning squad because of his age. It was felt that he was still too young to play. 

Maradona, the midfielder, spent five years at the Argentinos Juniors, scoring 116 goals in 166 appearances. In 1979 he led the national under-20 team to a Junior World Cup championship.

In 1981, Maradona moved to Boca Juniors and, in the next year, he moved to Europe, playing with FC Barcelona for a record fee of $7.3 million. In June 1983, Maradona became the first Barcelona player to receive standing ovations from Real Madrid fans.

In 1984, Maradona was transferred to Napoli for another world record fee of $13 million. With Maradona the Napoli team won the league title and cup in 1987 and again the league title in 1990. Maradona’s stint with Napoli came to an end in 1991 when he was arrested in Argentina for cocaine possession and received a 15-month suspension from playing football. In 1995 he returned to Boca Juniors and played his last match on October 25, 1997.

1986-2011

Maradona represented the Argentine national team in four World Cups: 1982, 1986, 1990, and 1994. He dominated the 1986 competition in Mexico. In a 2–1 quarterfinal victory over England, he scored two of the most memorable goals in the history of the World Cup. 

The first was scored with his hand (the referee mistakenly thought the ball had struck his head), a goal now remembered as the “Hand of God" goal. The second occurred after Maradona gained possession of the ball at midfield and dribbled through a pack of English defenders and past the keeper before depositing the ball in the goal. 

In 1990, he almost single-handedly took his team to the final but lost to Franz Beckenbauer's West Germany after Andreas Brehme scored from a penalty in the 85th minute.

He did not finish the 1994 World Cup because he tested positive for illegal drugs and was suspended. 

In 2008, Maradona was named the head coach of the Argentine national team and led the Argentina team to the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup. Shortly after the 2010 World Cup, his tenure as the team’s head coach ended as he and Argentina‘s football governing body could not agree on a contract extension.

In 2011, Maradona was hired to coach the United Arab Emirates club Al Waslb but was later fired.

Later life

Maradona played 490 official club games during his 21-year professional career, scoring 259 goals. He played 91 games for Argentina and scored 34 goals.

He had health problems in his older days because of his alcohol dependency. On November 25, 2020, he suffered a heart attack and passed away at the age of 60.

Messi on Maradona

After winning the World Cup for Argentina in 2022, Lionel Messi wished Maradona was alive to see his country become world champions again.

"I would have liked Diego to give me the cup, or at least to see all this, to see Argentina as world champions, with everything he wanted and how he loved the national team. I think from above, he – like a lot of people who love me – were strong," Messi said.

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Published: 30 Oct 2023, 06:44 AM IST
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