Hello Friends, I am back with my new blog on Tribute to the Legendary Diego Maradona. Arguably considered as one of the greatest footballers of all time, Diego Armando Maradona sadly passed away on 25th November, 2020 due to Cardiac Arrest at the age of 60 which bought the whole footballing fraternity into a standstill. Tributes started pouring in for the Argentine legend from his fans all across the World. So in this blog I would be giving a small tribute to Maradona. I would be writing about his career, the awards he received, memorable moments and facts about Maradona and will then end my blog with some life lessons from Maradona. So let’s get started!
Club and National Career
Described as a “classic number 10” in the media, Maradona was a traditional playmaker who usually played in a free role, either as an attacking midfielder behind the forwards, or as a second striker in a front–two, although he was also deployed as an offensive–minded Central midfielder on many occasion. Maradona was renowned for his Dribbling ability, vision, close ball control, passing, and creativity, and is considered to have been one of the most skilful players and one of the greatest dribblers in the history of the game.
He was immensely talented and had a great passion and love for football. He once famously quoted in an interview, “When I die, I want to be born again and want to be a footballer. And I want to be Diego Armando Maradona again.” He used to dribble and beat defenders with ease when he was at his peak, opponent defenders were scared to mark him. He was a charismatic team leader, a guy who always resolved difficulties that may come up on the pitch.
On 20 October 1976, Maradona made his professional debut for Argentinos Juniors , 10 days before his 16th birthday vs Talleres De Cordoba. He entered to the pitch wearing the number 16 jersey, and became the youngest player in the history of the Argentine Primera Division. In his Debut match he nutmegged an opponent defender, Juan Domingo Cabrera, and receive an “ole” from the crowd, hailing the arrival of a special talent. After the debut match Maradona said that he felt he had the sky in his hands. The 5 feet 5 inch Argentine achieved the highest greatness in his overall professional career and led his club teams to championships in Argentina, Italy and Spain.
Maradona spent five years at Argentinos Juniors, from 1976 to 1981, scoring 115 goals in 167 appearances before his US$ 4 million transfer to Boca Juniors. Maradona with his poise, skill and talent became the best player for Argentinos as he scored 100 goals for the club merely at the age of 19. He left Argentinos in 1981 as he needed to move to a club more befitting his new stature.
Maradona was transferred to his boyhood club, Boca Juniors, for a fee of 4 Million US$, a club he always wanted to play for on 20th February 1981. He received offers to join other clubs, including River Plate, Boca Juniors’ Arch Rivals, who offered to make him the club’s best paid player but he declined all of them for Boca. He made his debut two days later against Talleres De Cordoba, scoring twice in the club’s 4–1 win. On 10 April, Maradona played his first Superclassico against Arch Rivals River Plate at La Bombonera stadium. Boca defeated River 3–0 with Maradona scoring a goal after dribbling past Alberto Tarantini and Fillol. Despite the distrustful relationship between Maradona and Boca Juniors manager, Silvi Marzolini, Boca had a successful season, winning the League Title after securing a point against Racing Club. That would be the only title won by Maradona in the Argentine domestic league.
Maradona scored 28 goals in 40 matches for Boca Juniors after having a successful season with them. He in very quick time achieved the legendary status in Boca and became fan’s favorite just at the age of 20. He became an idol for many young kids all over the world due to his skill, talent and passion for football. There were reports that Boca Juniors took loan for the transfer of Maradona to Boca from Argentinos as at that time Boca were struggling with financial problems and couldn’t pay his huge fees. Maradona gave his best for both clubs which grew massively just due to his presence!!
After the 1982 World Cup, in June, Maradona was transferred to one of the best teams of Spain Barcelona for a then World Record Fee of $7.6 million. Maradona was the team’s top scorer in the 1982-83 season for Barca and showed at times why he would later be considered, perhaps, the best of all time. His time at Barcelona would be marked by a bout of hepatitis, some successes, fights, a long injury, the “discovery” of cocaine, a near-riot, and a transfer to Napoli – an ultimately frustrating but sometimes brilliant two years.
In Barcelona, Spanish people nicknamed him ‘El Pibe De Oro’ which meant The Golden Boy, owing to his enormous Skill and Passion for Football. During his two injury-hit seasons at Barcelona, He had won a Copa del Rey, a Copa de la Liga and a Spanish Super Cup at and scored an impressive 38 goals in 58 matches for the blaugranes. After a controversial but successful 2 seasons at Barca, Maradona left Barca and joined Italian side Napoli in 1984 for another World Record fee of 10.4 Million Dollars. Disillusioned with life in Spain and at odds with the FC Barcelona board, Maradona saw a lucrative move to Italy as a way out of the impasse in which he found himself.
History will show Napoli as one of Italian football’s most historic clubs yet there is a true turning point between life before Diego Maradona and life after his spell in Naples. The club was officially founded on August 1,1926 yet many in Italy consider the real birth of the club happened on the day Maradona was presented to supporters on July 5, 1984. Around 80,000 fans flocked to the Stadio San Paolo with tickets sold at three times their face value to see the arrival of their new hero. The club was financially in trouble, but Maradona still received 10.4 Million $ for it. The club took a loan from a bank to pay Maradona’s fee. By joining this weak club, Maradona had shown the world that he knows to take risks. Sports writer David Goldblatt commented, “Napoli Fans were convinced that the saviour had arrived.”A local newspaper stated that despite the lack of a “mayor, houses, schools, buses, employment and sanitation, none of this matters because we have Maradona”. Prior to Maradona’s arrival, Italian football was dominated by teams from the north and centre of the country, such as A.C. Milan, Juventus, Inter Milan, and Roma, and no team in the south of the Italian Peninsula had ever won a league title. Many Neapolitans have named their sons Diego, for he was able to redeem a city that was often the target of prejudices and discrimination.
Napoli was the most underdeveloped city of Italy at that time, and there used to be a terror of drug mafias. This club was not in a good condition and it was called ‘Back Benchers Club’ as it did not have any good players. But Maradona reversed both the game and luck of this club as soon as he arrived and quickly became Napoli fans’ favourite. At Napoli, Maradona reached the peak of his professional career and in his time there he elevated the team to the most successful era in its history. In his entire career with Napoli, he won 2 Seria A, 1 Coppa Italia, A Uefa Cup and a Supercoppa Italiana and scored 115 goals in 259 matches. Maradona changed the lives of Neapolitans so much so that they started worshipping him as a God. After his death, Napoli renamed their stadium from Stadio San Paolo to Stadio Diego Armando Maradona to honour the late club legend.
After serving a 15-month ban for failing a drug test for cocaine, Maradona left Napoli in disgrace in 1992. Despite interest from Real Madrid and Marseille, he signed for Sevilla, where he stayed for one year. In 1993, he played for Newell’s Old Boys and in 1995 returned to Boca Juniors for a two-year stint.
Argentina (International Career)
Maradona made his full international debut at age 16, against Hungary, on 27 February 1977. Maradona was left off the Argentine squad for the 1978 World Cup on home soil by coach Cesar Luis Menotti who felt he was too young at age 17.
He participated in 4 World Cups for Argentina in 1982, 1986, 1990 and 1994 and under his leadership Argentina won the 1986 World Cup. Argentina also won the FIFA World Youth Championship in 1979 and the Artemia Franchi Trophy in 1993 with Maradona. In his entire career with Argentina, Maradona scored 34 goals in 91 matches and achieved great success for Argentina. He was the star for Argentina in the 1986 World Cup scoring 5 goals in 7 matches and he also won the Golden Ball Award in that Tournament.
After his Retirement he even managed clubs like Argentinian clubs Argentinos Juniors, Racing Club, Textil Mandiyu, UAE Clubs like Fujairah and Al Wasl FC and Mexican Club Dorado. He also managed the Argentina National Team from 2008 to 2010.
Awards and Honours
Diego Maradona received hundreds of individual awards and trophies in his 17 year blistering and successful career. The Notable ones include
- FIFA World Youth Championship Golden Ball in 1979
- Argentine Footballer of the Year in 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1986
- South American Footballer of the Year in 1979 and 1980
- FIFA World Cup Golden Ball in 1986
- FIFA World Cup All Star Team in 1986 and 1990
- United Press Athlete of the Year Award in 1986
- Number 10 (Jersey Number of Maradona) retired by Napoli Football Team as a recognition to his contribution for the club in 2000
- FIFA Goal of the Century – For his Second Goal against England in the 1986 World Cup
- Globe Soccer Awards Player Career Award in 2012
- AFA Team of All time in 2015
- Italian Football Hall of Fame and many other Awards
Magical Moments of Maradona
The ‘Hand Of God’ Goal
This goal is one of the most controversial goals in Maradona’s career, isn’t it? Maradona’s performance against England in the 1986 World Cup has already gone down in history as his most iconic display for his country. For a match befitting the rivalry, the action on the pitch was tense and tetchy, and it needed something out of the ordinary to bring the contest to life. Unsurprisingly, it was Maradona who provided it. When a loose ball was hacked into the air by a panicking Steve Hodge, Maradona latched onto its flight path long before anyone else, including England goalkeeper Peter Shilton.
With the ball dropping from a great height in the heart of England’s penalty area, Maradona leapt into the air and, just as Shilton appeared in range to punch clear, knocked the ball past the outrushing keeper and into the empty England net. There was a brief moment of hesitation from Maradona, who knew he’d used his hand to get the better of Shilton. But, in a moment of thinking every bit as quick as the handball itself, he glanced at the linesman, saw no adverse reaction from the official, and charged away in celebration. After the match, he referred to the goal being scored by “The Hand of God.” It broke the hearts of their big rivals and helped Argentina win the match 2-1, and it was a goal that has lived in infamy ever since.
The ‘Goal of The Century’
If Maradona’s first goal against England was one of the most controversial ever scored in a World Cup, then his second was almost certainly the greatest.
With Argentina 1-0 up, and with England looking to open up in search of an equalizer, Maradona picked up a loose ball in the center circle, twisted and turned, and set off on the most legendary run ever seen during a World Cup match. Maradona outpaced the entire England midfield, then tore through England’s notoriously tough-tackling back line before swerving past Shilton and passing the ball into the empty net.
It was, quite simply, a moment of pure football genius, and showed just why Maradona was considered the greatest player in the world. It’s also something that no other Argentinian player, including Lionel Messi, has ever come close to replicating on the sport’s biggest stage.
His One-Man Show against Belgium
If his two-goal performance against England in the quarter-finals was iconic, his display in the semi-finals against Belgium was arguably even more complete. With his teammates misfiring in front of goal, despite being teed up by a string of Maradona passes, the little No. 10 took matters into his own hands and won the game by himself.
A beautiful flick of his left boot put Argentina into the lead after he outsprinted two Belgian defenders, and goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff, to Jorge Burruchaga’s through ball. Then, he netted another stunning solo effort when he picked up the ball 40 yards from goal, turned on the afterburners and sped past all four members of Belgium’s defense before firing unerringly into the far corner.
It was another example of Maradona taking a game by the scruff of its neck and winning it almost single-handedly, and it saw Argentina make it all the way to the World Cup final, where he would go on to set up the winning goal with a beautiful pass for Burruchaga.
His Iconic Warm-Up at Napoli
One of the most memorable videos of Maradona features the Argentinian superstar during his pre-match warm-up ahead of a match for Serie A side Napoli in the late-1980s. While his teammates, including Brazilian superstars Careca and Alemao, warmed up diligently, Maradona instead danced and played with a football. And it was brilliant!!
The sight of Maradona, bootlaces untied, dancing to 1980s hit “Live is Life” by Opus while juggling a football with ridiculous ease, showed the world the sheer mastery of a football Maradona possessed at his peak. The video, which has been posted and reposted online countless times, has been watched on YouTube more than five million times, and continues to captivate fans to this day.
Life Lessons from Diego Maradona
Inspite of Maradona’s controversial life affairs and his cocaine addiction, his enthusiasm towards sports was truly an inspiration for millions. He was a hero of many legends across the globe. He alleviated the standards of the game.
Here is his top 10 rules for glorified success in life:
LIVE LIFE BLACK & WHITE
He was a bold lad with no in between. His saying “I’m black or white, I’ll never be grey in my life,” should be the utmost life priority in this hypocritic world. Either you are good or you are bad, never be a dual face personality. He is been hailed as anti imperiliast, left wing socialist, who always supported progressive movements.
ONLY HARD WORK PAYS OFF
“When people succeed it’s because of hard work. Luck has nothing to do with success.” There is no myth formula to become successful, rather it is your hard work, sleepless nights and resistance that pays you off.
BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE THE BEST
“My mother thinks I am the best. And I was raised to always believe what my mother tells me” This envisaged self-belief gives you unbreakable confidence. People having a strong belief in you should be your priority, as their hope in you creates self belief and confidence in you.
“I’d give my life to be the national team coach.” Because wherever you go, you only known by your origin. Stick to your soil, stick to your people. Always try to be their pride. Never forget your roots because ultimately it’s your roots who have made you. Always remember where you came for and why you wanted to follow your passion
Progress is Important, Rather than Win
“When you win, you don’t get carried away. But if you go step by step, with confidence, you can go far.” Always try to prefer progressive mind set, not necessarily only wining mind set, as this slow progression can lead you to the Pinnacle of your life!
Love and Follow your Passion
“To see the ball, to run after it, makes me the happiest man in the world.” Love what you passion for, what you dreamt for. You will find true happiness whenever you pursue your passion. That passion for achieving something big should bring a fire in you it should ignite you to achieve more. Never let your Hunger and Love for your Passion Die
Take Risk to Achieve your Targets
“You can say a lot of things about me, but you can never say I don’t take risks.” Maradona’s transfer from Barca to a struggling side Napoli was an evidence that he always loved to take risks. Take risks if you want to achieve big. Step out of your comfort zone and test your potentials.
Don’t Care about Negative People
“All the people that criticized me should eat their words.” Only take advice from sincerest people around and ignore bullies around you. As those negative opinions are only here to create hindrance. Keep head straight & move on!
Have a Big Heart and Mind
“I am Maradona, who makes goals, who makes mistakes. I can take it all, I have shoulders big enough to fight with everybody.” Have a big heart and mind, if you aim to achieve big. Because only people with strong shoulders can bear expectations pressure.
Always Aim for Eternity
“I’m alive and I want to keep living.” We can live for eternity by our acts, by our performances and by our impression. Therefore, try to leave your good acts & hence good name to remember. We get Eternity not only by our performances in our professional lives but also by the acts and treatment given to other people. One should always be a good human being and help each other!
Diego Maradona touched the Pinnacle of Football world and also dived into darkness. His life went from Rags to Riches and then back to darkness. He was worshipped like a god owing to his supreme talent and love for football but his demons almost destroyed him. Rising to stardom from a grimy Buenos Aires slum to lead Argentina to World Cup victory, Maradona was a rags-to-riches story in his soccer-mad homeland and gained the iconic status of fellow Argentines Che Guevara and Evita Peron. Maradona was a player who, apart from scoring goals, also made mistakes. He once famously quoted, “I am Maradona, I make goals, I make Mistakes. I can take it all. I have shoulders big enough to fight with everybody!”
A magician with the ball – deceptively quick and a visionary passer – Maradona is considered by some as the greatest soccer player ever, edging out that other great, Brazil’s Pele. In Argentina, he was worshipped as ‘El Dios’ – The God – and in Spain he was regarded as ‘El Pibe De Oro’ which meant the ‘Golden Boy’. One of the most gifted soccer players in history, Maradona’s pinnacle of glory came when he captained Argentina to win the World Cup in 1986 before plunging to misery when he was kicked out the 1994 World Cup for doping.
In the language of football fans, Maradona was and will always remain immortal. But with this immortality, as a human being, he had all the characteristics and imperfections which made him different from others and also similar to others. Maradona was supremely talented and he was immensely passionate about football.
Rest in Peace Legend! Your Passion and Enthusiasm for Football will never be forgotten!
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