Happy birthday Diego Maradona: Remembering the ‘GOAT footballer’

Diego Maradona, often considered one of the greatest football players in history, was born on October 30, 1960, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He grew up in challenging conditions in Villa Fiorito near Buenos Aires, the fourth child of Tota and Chitori Maradona. At the age of three, Diego received a football as a birthday gift from a cousin, quickly becoming his cherished companion. Maradona exhibited his football talent at an early age and joined Las Cebollitas (“The Little Onions”), a boys’ team, at eight. This team achieved remarkable success, winning 136 consecutive games and a national championship. Diego Maradona signed with Argentinos Juniors at 14 and made his debut in the first division in 1976. He became the youngest Argentine to debut with the national team. However, he was excluded from the 1978 World Cup-winning squad due to his age, as it was believed he was too young for that level of competition.

Diego Maradona

As a midfielder, Maradona spent five years at Argentinos Juniors, scoring 116 goals in 166 appearances. In 1979, he led the national under-20 team to a Junior World Cup championship. In 1981, Maradona transferred to Boca Juniors, and the following year, he moved to Europe, joining FC Barcelona for a record fee of $7.3 million. In June 1983, he became the first Barcelona player to receive standing ovations from Real Madrid fans. In 1984, Maradona made another record-breaking transfer, this time to Napoli for $13 million. During his time with Napoli, the team secured the league title and cup in 1987 and the league title again in 1990. Maradona’s tenure with Napoli ended in 1991 when he was arrested in Argentina for cocaine possession and received a 15-month suspension from football. In 1995, he returned to Boca Juniors and played his final match on October 25, 1997.

Diego Maradona represented the Argentine national team in four World Cups: 1982, 1986, 1990, and 1994. His most iconic moment came during the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, where he dominated the competition. In a 2–1 quarterfinal victory over England, he scored two unforgettable goals:

  1. The first goal was the infamous “Hand of God” goal, where he used his hand to score (the referee mistakenly believed the ball had struck his head).
  2. The second goal was a masterpiece, as Maradona gained possession of the ball at midfield, dribbled through a group of English defenders, and skillfully bypassed the goalkeeper to score.

In the 1990 World Cup, he almost single-handedly led his team to the final but lost to West Germany, managed by Franz Beckenbauer, after Andreas Brehme scored from a penalty in the 85th minute. His 1994 World Cup campaign was cut short when he tested positive for illegal drugs, leading to his suspension from the tournament. Throughout his 21-year professional career, Maradona played 490 official club games and scored 259 goals. He also represented Argentina in 91 international matches and scored 34 goals. In his later years, Maradona faced health issues due to alcohol dependency. On November 25, 2020, he suffered a heart attack and passed away at the age of 60.