I wasn’t born when he played but I heard tales, I read stories and watched videos of one of the greatest to ever played the round leather ball, Diego Armando Maradona Franco.
The world received with shock the passing away of the football legend today Wednesday, November 25, 2020. Reports said cardiac arrest took El Diego away from us aged 60.
On November 2 ago it was reported that he had surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain. After he was discharged, it was reported that he was being treated for “alcohol dependency”, a problem he battled with all through his life.
He broke out to the scene in 1976 just aged 16 and through a career that spanned 21years until his retirement in 1997, he created magic, dramas and instigated memories with his football and off field antics.
He played for Agentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors (two stints) and Newell’s old boys in his native Argentina. He also played for Barcelona, Napoli and Sevilla in Europe.
His international with Argentina began at the age of 16 and was denied a teenage appearance at the 1978 World Cup on home soil by coach Cesar Luis Menotti. Argentina went on to win and that denied Maradona of being a teenage world champion, a feat achieved by Pele with Brazil in 1958 and Kylian Mbappe with France in 2018.
He played in four World Cups including the 1986 triumph in Mexico where he captained Argentina. He scored the famous “Hand of God” goal in the quarter final against England by punching the ball into the net unnoticed. A goal he later described as “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God”.
He later scored a goal voted as the goal of the century in the same match, he ran 66yards, made 11 touches and dribbled past five English players. He scored 34 goals for Argentina in 91 games. He played his last international game against Nigeria at USA ’94.
He retired from football in 1997 and his addiction problem and health began to worsen afterwards. He managed Argentina to the 2010 World Cup where they were eliminated by Germany in the quarter final in a 4-0 loss. He had earlier said he would dance naked in Argentina if his country had won.
Maradona made many quotable quotes, many of which exemplified his love and passion for the beautiful game.
“I want to play even though my meniscus is in pieces. Whoever is always prudent never comes first. I only want to play and win. Is it madness? No problem. I’ll be crazy until the last day of my life.”
“I am Maradona, who makes goals, who makes mistakes. I can take it all, I have shoulders big enough to fight with everybody. When God decides it’s time, I guess he’ll come for us. All the people that criticised me should eat their words.”
Several tributes have poured out for the departed legend most notably from a legend himself and a friend of Maradona, Brazilian legend Pele;
“What sad news. I lost a great friend and the world lost a legend. There is still much to be said, but for now, may God give strength to family members. One day, I hope we can play ball together in the sky.”
2020 continues to be an unusual year. The “Hand of God” has reached out to earth, and pulled Maradona up to heaven.
Rest on Legend!