Diego Maradona

Diego Armando Maradona (born October 30, 1960), is a former Argentine football player. He is regarded by many as the greatest footballer of all time, as well as one of the most controversial. Maradona, like many South American footballers came from poor beginnings in his case a shanty town of Buenos Aires. In 1981 he won his first senior league title in Argentina with Boca Juniors. A Spanish cup trophy followed in 1983 with FC Barcelona. He then won multiple trophies with the Italian team SSC Napoli. During an international career that included 91 caps and 34 goals, he played in four FIFA World Cup tournaments, inspiring the national team to victory over West Germany in 1986, where he collected the Golden Ball award.

After retirement from football on October 30, 1997, he suffered ill-health, including weight gain and 2 heart attacks, subsequent to a long standing problem with cocaine abuse. However, a stomach stapling operation helped control his weight gain, and after avoiding cocaine for over two years, in 2006 he was enjoying considerable success as a TV host in Argentina.

Short and stocky, Maradona had a very strong physique and could withstand physical pressure well. His strong legs and low center of gravity gave him an advantage in short sprints. This is illustrated by his two goals against Belgium in the 1986 World Cup.

He was highly technical with the ball and could manage himself in limited spaces, attracting defenders only to quickly dash out of the melee (as in the second goal against England), or pass to a free teammate who would take the ball and score. He could convert fragile possessions into goals, as demonstrated by his goal against Italy in the 1986 World Cup.

One of Maradona's trademark moves was dribbling full-speed as a left wing, and on reaching the opponent's goal line, delivering accurate passes to his teammates that many times proved lethal. Another trademark was the Rabona or reverse-cross pass (shot behind the leg that holds all the weight), with which he provided several assists, such as the powerful cross for Ramón Díaz's header in the 1980 friendly against Switzerland. He was also a dangerous free kick taker.

Diego Armando Maradona was born in Villa Fiorito, a shantytown on the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires, to a poor family that had moved from Corrientes Province. He was the first son after three daughters. He has two younger brothers, Hugo (el Turco) and Eduardo (Lalo), both of whom were also professional footballers.

At age 10, Maradona was spotted by a talent scout while he was playing in his neighborhood club Estrella Roja. He became a staple of the Cebollitas, the junior team of Buenos Aires side Argentinos Juniors. As a ball-boy in first division games, he amused spectators by showing his wizardry with the ball during the halftime intermissions.

At age 15, Maradona made his debut with Argentinos Juniors, where he played between 1976 and 1981 before his transfer to the club that he supported, Boca Juniors, where he played during the remainder of the 1981 season and 1982 and secured his first league title.

After the 1982 World Cup, Maradona was transferred to FC Barcelona in Spain. In 1983, under coach César Luis Menotti, Barcelona and Maradona won the Copa del Rey (Spain's annual national cup competition), beating Real Madrid. However, Maradona had an unhappy tenure in Barcelona: first a bout with hepatitis, and then an ill-timed tackle by Athletic Bilbao's Andoni Goikoetxea that put Maradona's career on the line; Maradona's physical strength and willpower made it possible for him to be back on the pitch after only 14 weeks. It is said that while playing for Barcelona, Maradona was introduced to cocaine, to which he would become addicted.

Maradona, due in part to his rebellious nature, got into frequent disputes with Barcelona's directors especially club president Josep Lluís Nuñez and in 1984 he demanded a transfer out of of the Nou Camp. He subsequently went to Serie A and SSC Napoli, where he became an adored star, lifting the team to its most successful era. Napoli won their only Italian Championships (1986/87 and 1989/1990), a Coppa Italia (1987), a UEFA Cup (1989) and an Italian Supercup (1990). Napoli were also runners-up in the Italian Championship twice (1987/88 and 1988/89).

In Naples, Maradona transformed the local club. They had traditionally been overshadowed by the teams from the industrial cities in the north, but Maradona's arrival (along with Careca and others) brought them a first scudetto in 1987, followed by a second in 1990, and cup successes. However, he also faced a scandal there regarding an illegitimate son and was the object of some suspicion over his friendship with the Camorra, the local mafia.

Maradona left Napoli in 1992, after serving a 15-month ban for failing the drug test for cocaine, and played for Sevilla FC (1992–93), Newell's Old Boys (1993) and Boca Juniors (1995–97). He also attempted to work as a coach on two short stints, leading Mandiyú of Corrientes (1994) and Racing Club (1995) without much success. He retired from football on October 30, 1997.

He debuted with the Argentina national football team ("la selección"), at age 16, against Hungary. At age 18, he played the Football World Youth Championship for Argentina, and was the star of the tournament, shining in their 3–1 final win over the USSR team.

After being left off the squad that won the 1978 World Cup by Cesar Menotti, Maradona played his first World Cup tournament in 1982. In the first round, Argentina, as defending champions, lost to Belgium 0-1. Although the team convincingly beat Hungary and El Salvador to progress to the second round, they were defeated in the second round by Italy (1:2), the side which eventually won the cup, and Brazil (1:3), during which game Maradona was sent off for kicking an opponent.

Maradona inspired the Argentine national team to victory in the 1986 FIFA World Cup, the team winning 3–2 in the final against West Germany. Throughout the 1986 World Cup, Maradona asserted his dominance and was the best player of the tournament. He played every minute of every game, scored 5 goals and made 5 assists. However, it was the two goals he scored in the quarter-final game against England which cemented his legend. Action replay footage showed that the first goal was scored with the aid of his hand. He later claimed it was the "Hand of God" and described it as "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God," implying that God was ultimately responsible for the goal, because the referee had missed the handball offense. However, on 22 August 2005 Maradona acknowledged on his television show that he hit the ball with his hand purposely and that he immediately knew the goal was illegitimate.

In contrast, Maradona's second goal in the England game was a simply astonishing display of footballing skill. He ran half the length of the pitch, dribbling past five English players (Glenn Hoddle, Peter Reid, Kenny Sansom, Terry Butcher, and Terry Fenwick) as well as goalkeeper Peter Shilton, and shot on goal while falling to the ground. This goal was voted Goal of the Century in a 2002 online poll conducted by FIFA. Argentina held on to defeat England 2-1 in that game, knocking them out of the tournament. The two goals were ranked 6th in the 100 Greatest Sporting Moments in 2002 by the UK's Channel 4 television channel.

He followed this with two other goals in the semi-final against Belgium. In the final, the opposing German side attempted to subdue him by double-marking but he nevertheless found the space to give the final service to Jorge Burruchaga for the winning goal.

Maradona captained Argentina again in the 1990 FIFA World Cup. An ankle injury affected his overall performance, and he was much less dominant than four years earlier. In the round of 16 match against Brazil, he assisted Claudio Caniggia on the winning goal (1-0) that allowed his team to advance to the next round. Argentina then faced Yugoslavia in quarterfinals, with the match ending 0-0 after 120 minutes, and Argentina advancing on penalty kicks. Maradona missed one of the penalty kicks, but his team still won 3-2. His team went on to the final, where they lost 1–0 to West Germany due to a questioned penalty conceded in the 85th minute.

He arrived at the 1994 FIFA World Cup and played two games (scoring one goal) before being sent home after failing a drug test for ephedrine doping. In his autobiography Maradona stated that his personal trainer was giving him a power drink known as Rip Fuel in preparation for the tournament, a drink which in Argentina contained no traces of ephedrine (a stimulant widely used in US sports but banned in football) but which did however in the United States. Having run out of his Argentinian dosage Maradona's trainer bought what he thought was the same formula in the US. Disastrously for Maradona however, the US version contained small traces of ephedrine and he failed the drug test. FIFA subsequently expelled him from USA '94 and the Argentinians, affected by his absence, went home in the second round. Maradona had also suggested that he had an agreement, on which FIFA later reneged, to allow him to use the drug for weight loss before the competition in order to be able to play, so that the World Cup would not lose prestige because of his absence. This allegation was never proved, and many attribute his comment ("they cut off my legs") to Diego's anger at being suspended.

In 2000, Maradona published his autobiography Yo Soy El Diego ("I am The Diego"), which became an instant bestseller in his home country.

In the same year, FIFA conducted an poll on the Internet, to find the Player of the Century. Maradona, with 53.6% of the votes, was a clear winner. Then, in a previously unannounced move, FIFA appointed a "Football Family" committee, which voted to elect Pelé to the title. Two awards were made, one to each of the pair: Maradona accepted his prize, but left the awards ceremony without waiting to see Pelé receive his accolade.

In 2001, the Argentine Football Association asked FIFA for authorization to retire the jersey number 10 as an homage to Maradona. FIFA did not grant the request, even though Argentine officials have maintained that FIFA hinted that it would.

Maradona has won other polls, including a 2002 FIFA poll in which his second goal against England was chosen as the best goal ever scored in a World Cup; he also won the most votes in a poll to determine the All-Time Ultimate World Cup Team.

Asociación Atlética Argentinos Juniors named team's stadium after Diego Maradona on December 26, 2003.

On 22 June 2005, it was announced that Maradona would return to Boca Juniors as a sports vice president in charge of managing the First Division roster (after a disappointing 2004–05 season, which coincided with Boca's centenary). His contract began 1 August 2005, and one of his first recommendations proved to be very effective: he was the one who decided to hire Alfio Basile as the new coach. With Maradona staying very close to the players, Boca went on to win the 2005 Apertura title, the 2006 Clausura title, the 2005 Copa Sudamericana and the 2005 Recopa Sudamericana. As of 2006, Maradona remains aloof of day-to-day activities and is seen mostly on game days, cheering from his private box in the Bombonera.

On 15 August 2005, Maradona made his debut as host of a talk-variety show on Argentine television, La Noche del 10 ("The Night of the no. 10"). His main guest on opening night was Pelé; the two had a friendly chat, showing no signs of past differences. In subsequent evenings, he led the ratings on all occasions but one. Most guests were drawn from the worlds of football and show business, including Zidane, Ronaldo and Hernán Crespo, but also included interviews with other notable persons such as Fidel Castro and Mike Tyson.

The award-winning Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica is creating a documentary about Maradona's life, entitled Maradona. The film is currently in post-production, and its release is anticipated in 2006. Italian-Australian actor Marco Leonardi has been confirmed to play the prolific footballer in the film.

Jorge Cyterszpiller, a childhood friend, was Maradona's first agent. He set up Maradona Producciones but did not score any major successes with merchandising, as counterfeiters would quickly imitate any product that came on the market. On his advice, Maradona started charging for interviews, a move that generated some controversy.

After breaking up with Cyterszpiller, Maradona hooked up with Guillermo Coppola, a bank employee who had started representing players as a hobby and was already a major agent in the mid-1980s. Coppola oversaw the biggest contracts of Maradona's career, but also was involved in the drug scandals of the early 1990s. Maradona and Coppola parted ways acrimoniously, and they still refer to the end of their relations as an "open wound".

Maradona married long-time fiancée Claudia Villafañe on November 7, 1989 in Buenos Aires, after the birth of their daughters, Dalma Nerea (b. 1987) and Giannina Dinorah (b. 1989). In his autobiography, Maradona admits he was not always faithful to Claudia, even though he refers to her as the love of his life.

Maradona and Villafañe divorced in 2004. Daughter Dalma has since asserted that the divorce was the best solution for all, as her parents remained on friendly terms. They traveled together to Napoli for a series of homages in June 2005 and were seen together on many other occasions, including the Argentina matches during 2006 FIFA World Cup.

During the divorce proceedings, Maradona admitted he was the father of Diego Sinagra (b. Naples, 1986), as was claimed by the youth's mother Cristiana Sinagra. (The Italian courts had so ruled in 1993, after Maradona refused to undergo DNA tests for proving or disproving his paternity.) Diego Jr. met Maradona for the first time in May 2003 after tricking his way onto a golf course in Naples where Maradona was playing.

After the divorce, Claudia embarked on a career as a theater producer, and Dalma is seeking an acting career; she has expressed her desire to attend the Actor's Studio in Los Angeles.

In marked contrast to the athleticism he showed during his years as a football player, Maradona has had a series of health problems since retirement.

Since the 1990s, Maradona has been battling a cocaine addiction, which included spells in Swiss and Cuban detox clinics. Between 2002 and 2005, Maradona spent most of his time in Cuba.

On April 18, 2004, doctors reported that Maradona had suffered a major heart attack following a cocaine overdose; he was admitted to intensive care in a Buenos Aires hospital. Scores of fans gathered around the clinic. Days after the heart attack, a nurse was caught taking photos of Maradona with a mobile phone and was promptly fired by the hospital managers.

After he showed improvement, Maradona was taken off the respirator on April 23 and remained in intensive care for several days before being discharged on April 29. He returned to Cuba in May.

Maradona has always had a tendency to put on weight, and suffered increasingly with obesity from the end of his playing career until undergoing gastric bypass surgery in a clinic in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia on March 6, 2005. When Maradona resumed public appearances shortly thereafter, he displayed a notably thinner figure.

During the nineties, Maradona supported the presidency of neoliberal Carlos Menem in Argentina. In more recent years, Maradona has shown more sympathy to left-wing ideologies. He became friends with Fidel Castro while in treatment in Cuba. He has a portrait of Castro tattooed on his left leg and one of Ernesto Che Guevara on his right arm. He has declared his opposition to imperialism, notably during the 2005 Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina. There he protested George W. Bush's presence in Argentina, wearing a Stop Bush T-shirt and referring to Bush as "human garbage".

Ever since 1986, it is common for Argentines abroad to hear Maradona's name as a token of recognition, even in remote places. In Argentina, Maradona is often talked about in terms reserved for legends. In the Argentine film El Hijo de la Novia ("The bride's son"), an actor who plays a fake Catholic priest says to a bar patron: "they idolized him and then crucified him". When scolded by a friend for taking the prank too far, the fake priest retorts: "But I was talking about Maradona".

In Buenos Aires, fans organized the "Church of Maradona." Maradona's 43rd birthday in 2003 marked the start of the Year 43 D.D. - "Después de Diego" or After Diego - for its founding 200 members. Tens of thousands more have become members via the church's official web site.

Hounded for years by the press, Maradona even fired a compressed-air rifle against reporters who, so he claimed, invaded his privacy. This quote from former teammate Jorge Valdano summarizes the feelings of many:

He is someone many people want to emulate, a controversial figure, loved, hated, who stirs great upheaval, especially in Argentina... Stressing his personal life is a mistake. Maradona has no peers inside the pitch, but he has turned his life into a show, and is now living a personal ordeal that should not be imitated.

Maradona still generates controversy in England. In 1988, he played in an invitational game at London's Wembley Stadium celebrating the centenary of the English Football League. Maradona was part of the 'Rest of the World XI' playing against the English League XI. Each time that Maradona touched the ball he was subject to angry chants and boos from the crowd. It was reported that he received threats while in England.

A columnist for the sports daily Olé welcomed Maradona's hosting a TV show in 2005, noting that "for the first time, he seems to have found his place in the world outside the football pitch".

A television commercial for Brazilian soft drink Guaraná Antarctica portrayed Maradona as a member of the Brazilian national football team, including wearing the yellow jersey and singing the Brazilian national anthem with Brazilian caps Kaka and Ronaldo. He wakes up crying that it was a nightmare.

In May 2006, Maradona agreed to take part in UK's Soccer Aid (a program to raise money for Unicef). Maradona showed his skill with the ball and even scored a penalty. After the program was aired, it was made public that Maradona received 10 times more money than most of the other participants.


* 1977–1994 Argentina (91 appearances, 34 goals)
* 21 appearances in four FIFA World Cup Championships (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994)
* Argentina second-highest goal-scorer (held the record until surpassed by Gabriel Batistuta)

Club honours

* 1981 Argentine league (Boca Juniors)
* 1983 Copa del Rey (FC Barcelona)
* 1987 Italian league (SSC Napoli)
* 1987 Italian Cup (SSC Napoli)
* 1988 Italian top-scorer (SSC Napoli)
* 1989 UEFA Cup (SSC Napoli)
* 1990 Italian league (SSC Napoli)
* 1991 Italian Super Cup (SSC Napoli)

International honours

* 1979 FIFA World Youth Championship: Winner
* 1982 FIFA World Cup: Second round (11th place)
* 1986 FIFA World Cup: Winner
* 1990 FIFA World Cup: Runner-up
* 1993 Artemio Franchi Trophy: Winner
* 1994 FIFA World Cup: Second round (10th place)

Coaching career

* 1994 Mandiyú de Corrientes
* 1995 Racing Club de Avellaneda

Individual honours

* 1979–1981, 1986 Argentine Football Writers' Footballer of the Year
* 1979, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1992 South American Footballer of the Year (El Mundo, Caracas)
* 1986 Argentine Sports Writers' Sportsman of the Year
* 1986 Golden Ball for Best Player of the FIFA World Cup
* 1986 European Footballer of the Year (France Football)
* 1986–1987 Best Footballer in the World (Once)
* 1986 World Player of the Year (World Soccer Magazine)
* 1996 Golden Ball for services to football (France Football)
* 1999 Argentine Sports Writers' Sportsman of the Century
* 2000 "FIFA best football player of the century", people's choice.
* 2002 "FIFA Goal of the Century" (1986 (2–1) v. England; second goal)
* 2005 Argentine Senate "Domingo Faustino Sarmiento" recognition for lifetime achievement.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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