A generation of football fans identity Diego Maradona as the greatest of all time.
To others, he’s a recovering drug addict who cheated to knock England out of a World Cup.
At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the Argentina legend has rarely been out of the news.
When Lionel Messi opened the scoring in Argentina’s 2-1 over Nigeria, Maradona was seen screaming at the sky with arms outstretched, before dramatically folding them across his chest.
Half an hour later, the 57-year-old was spotted struggling to stay awake.
By full-time, he’d certainly woken up again, as he wildly celebrated Marcos Rojo’s later winner by yelling down at the pitch, aiming a couple of one-fingered salutes at the Nigeria team.
Footage later emerged showing a bleary-eyed Maradona being helped from his VIP box.
A separate picture showed him being treated by a paramedic, checking his pulse.
Subsequent rumours that Maradona had died of a heart attack or that he’d been given an adrenaline shot were denied by the man himself, who blamed his state on a white wine binge.
In previous matches, he’d been seen puffing on cigars and bantering with fans.
Ignoring the circus around him for just a moment, though, it’s important to highlight just how special the man Argentinians call ‘El Pibe de Oro’ (‘The Golden Boy’) was with a ball at his feet.
Blessed with supreme dribbling ability, close control and a low centre of gravity, the 5ft 5ins forward also possessed a wand of a left foot, had great balance and could pass a bit, too.
But when Maradona’s around, controversy is often just around the corner.
From a 20-year cocaine addiction and deep admiration for Fidel Castro to a tax bill big enough to sink a battleship and a secret lovechild, he’s certainly given us plenty to talk about.
Here’s everything you need to know about Diego Armando Maradona Franco.
Diego Maradona’s playing career
- 1976-1981 – Argentinos Juniors, 167 games, 116 goals
- 1981-1982 – Boca Juniors, 40 games, 28 goals
- 1982-1984 – Barcelona, 36 games, 22 goals
- 1984-1991 – Napoli, 188 games, 81 goals
- 1992-1993 – Sevilla, 26 games, 5 goals
- 1993-1994 – Newell’s Old Boys, 5 games, 0 goals
- 1995-1997 – Boca Juniors, 30 games, 7 goals
- 1977-1997 – Argentina, 91 games, 34 goals
Relationships and family
Maradona’s early years weren’t easy.
The fifth child of Diego Maradona Senior and Dalma Salvadora Franco, he was born into poverty and raised in Villa Fiorito, a shantytown on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. He’s one of eight siblings.
He married long-term girlfriend Claudia Villafane in 1984 and they had two daughters, Dalma and Gianinna. In his autobiography, he admitted cheating on ‘the love of his life’.
The pair divorced in 2004, but have remained friends. During the divorce proceedings, it emerged that Maradona had a secret lovechild from a brief affair.
He admitted he was the father of Diego Sinagra, born in 1986. Diego Junior met his dad for the first time in 2003 and is now a footballer playing in Italy.
Maradona has another son called Diego and a daughter called Jana. In total he has five children.
His youngest daughter Gianinna was married to Manchester City and Argentina striker Sergio Aguero but the couple divorced after separating in 2012. Maradona has called him a "wimp".
Aguero and Gianinna’s son Benjamin is Maradona’s grandson.
Maradona has been in a relationship with 28-year-old Rocio Olivia, a former professional footballer, since 2012. They got engaged in 2014.
Diego Maradona’s managerial career
- 1994 – Mandiyu de Corrientes
- 1995 – Racing Club
- 2008-2010 – Argentina
- 2011-2012 – Al Wasl
- 2017-2018 – Fujairah
According to TheRichest , Maradona’s net worth is estimated to be $100,000 (£75,000).
In 2010, while manager of Argentina, he earned a salary of $944,120 (£717, 701).
However, in 2013 he was served with a £33million tax bill by Italian authorities. It related to debts stemming from alleged unpaid taxes during the 1980s.
He’s said to have repaid £37,000 and handed over two luxury watches and a set of earrings so far.
Hand of God
In 1986, Maradona pretty much singlehandedly won the World Cup for Argentina
But he cheated along the way. Worse still, it was against England.
During the quarter-final, he jumped into a challenge with Three Lions goalkeeper Peter Shilton.
The little forward appeared to reach the ball first with his head, knocking the ball into the goal.
Replays showed he had in fact punched it past the hapless goalie.
The goal, which sealed a crushing 2-1 victory for Argentina, was dubbed the ‘Hand of God.
His other goal in the game was evidence of his superior ability.
Drug addiction and health problems
Maradona fought a 20-year addiction cocaine, using the Class A drug from the mid 1980s until 2004.
He was a regular user of the drug while at Napoli, where he enjoyed the best form of his career.
The little magician was banned for 15 months in 1991 after failing a dope test while playing for Napoli.
After hanging up his boots in 1997, he piled on weight to the point of being obese.
In 2005, he underwent gastric bypass surgery.
Diego Maradona honours
- 1981 – Argentine Primera Division (Boca Juniors)
- 1983 – Copa del Rey (Barcelona)
- 1983 – Copa del la Liga (Barcelona)
- 1986 – Word Cup (Argentina)
- 1986/87, 1989/90 – Serie A (Napoli)
- 1986/87 – Coppa Italia (Napoli)
- 1988/89 – UEFA Cup (Napoli)
- 1990 – Supercoppa Italiana (Napoli)
Two years later, he was treated for hepatitis and alcohol-related illness at a hospital in Buenos Aires.
When he was readmitted two days after being discharged, there were three false reports he had died.
He was eventually transferred to a psychiatric unit specialising in alcohol-related issues. On leaving hospital, Maradona said he had quit drinking and had not used drugs in two-and-a-half years.
Expelled from the World Cup
Maradona was called up by Argentina for the 1994 World Cup after seeing out his doping ban
He didn’t last long, though.
After playing just two games he was sent home after testing positive for ephedrine.
In his autobiography, he claimed he’d ingested the stimulant in the power drink Rip Fuel, given to him by his personal trainer.
He has also claimed that he had an agreement with FIFA, which allowed him to use the drug to help him lose weight.
Maradona developed left-wing ideals that saw him cultivate a friendship with Fidel Castro (whose head is also tattooed on Diego’s left leg, next to Che Guevara on the right).
He has also come out in support of former Venezulean President Hugo Chavez and is a staunch opponent of American imperialism.
An outspoken critic of George W Bush, in 2005 he protested against the then US President’s visit to Argentina by wearing a T-shirt bearing the legend ‘STOP BUSH’. He described him as human garbage.
Two years later, Maradona said: "I hate everything that comes from the United States. I hate it with all my strength”, before presenting a signed shirt to the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs."
He has however expressed admiration for Bush’s successor Barack Obama.
In October 2015, Maradona thanked the Queen and British politicians in London for giving him the chance to provide "true justice" as head of an organisation designed to help young children.
He later accept their nomination for him to become Latin American director for the non-governmental organisation Football for Unity.
What others have said about him
France legend Michel Platini
"Diego was capable of things no one else could match. The things I could do with a football, he could do with an orange."
"Even if I played for a million years, I’d never come close to Maradona. Not that I’d want to anyway. He’s the greatest there’s ever been."
"When Diego scored that second goal against us, I felt like applauding. I’d never felt like that before, but it’s true… and not just because it was such an important game.
"It was impossible to score such a beautiful goal. He’s the greatest player of all time, by a long way. A genuine phenomenon."
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