The cruel hand of death has struck and robbed the football world one of its greatest icons and a true great; Argentina’s Diego Armando Maradona. The former world cup winner died following a heart attack, aged 60.
The Argentine was idolized and worshipped in his native home land and the world at large. It is thus not shocking that he was a national hero in his country. To show his love for him, the South American nation has declared three days of mourning for the fallen star.
He is regarded by many as the greatest footballer of all time,oftenly compared with Brazil’s Pele and fellow countryman Lionel Messi and other legends who who have graced the beautiful game. Fanatism aside, you will be biased if you omit Maradona from the top three list of greatest footballers the world has ever seen.
A magician with the ball at his feet, Maradona who played as an attacking midfielder had unrivalled skills. He graced several clubs in both Argentina and Europe before retiring from professional football in 1997. The fallen giant featured for Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli. However, it was at Napoli where he rose to greatness and stardom. He guided the Italian side to two Serie A titles and Uefa cup.
Famously known for his heroics in the 1986 FIFA world cup in Mexico, Maradona captained Argentina to world cup glory. He was at his best and the world was not disappointed at all. He set the winning goal against West Germany in the final decider where they won 3-2.
In their quarter final match against England, Maradona scored two goals which will forever remain outstanding in the long and illustrious history of World Cup. In the 51st minute, in a tussle for a high ball with England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, the Argentine punched the ball into the goal. Tunisian refeee Alli Bin Nasser, 76, missed the handball and sure enough, the goal stood. In the post match, Diego said said that the goal was scored partly by his head and partly by the hand of God. The “Hand of God “, as the goal became, was the turning point for Argentina’s road to world cup glory.
Shortly after the hand of God, Maradona scored one of the game’s beautiful and solo goals. He picked the ball in their own half, dribbled past five English players before rounding the goalkeeper. He made a magical sixty metres run with the ball on his feet as the whole world watched in great amazement. This goal was voted the goal of the century in 2002. It was indeed a master piece to behold.
Great players do not necessarily become great coaches and Maradona was no exception. He was not successful as a manager in his trials in Argentina and abroad. When he was named to guide Argentina for the 2010 world cup in South Africa in 2008, he fielded a stunning 107 players in the qualifications.
Off the pitch, Diego Maradona led a very destructive life as it was his game to his opponents. He indulged in drugs and substance abuse for more than twenty years, surviving two surgeries, tax evasion claims and bankruptcy. He had to undergo drug rehabilitation and tests showed excessive abuse of cocaine. Despite this other side, fans still loved him and he was an icon to many.
Napoli have already named its San Paolo Stadium after the legend. Its new name will be San Paolo – Diego Armando Maradona Stadium in honor for the legend.