Diego Armando Maradona died this Wednesday, November 25 at the age of 60. He died of cardiac arrest. The Argentinian will have marked the history of football, both with his talent and his repeated escapades.
The eternal number 10 of the Albiceleste, Diego Armando Maradona, is no more. But « El Pibe de Oro » (« the golden kid »), as he was nicknamed since his debut, will remain in football legend forever. For his career, of course, but not only.
A real prodigy
Born on October 30, 1960 in Lanus, in the province of Buenos Aires, into a modest family, the young prodigy joined Argentinos Juniors, one of the clubs in the capital, at 10 years old. In an interview with Argentinian television, he said at the age of 12: « I have two dreams, to play a World Cup and to win it with Argentina ». Diego knows what he wants. And he’s going to get it. Before even turning 16, he made his debut with his club’s first team. A few months later, he was called up for his first cap with Argentina’s Albiceleste against Hungary. Praised for being present at the 1978 World Cup which takes place at home, “Dieguito” does not appear in the list. A disappointment all the more so as Argentina won their first title there against the Netherlands (3-1). A wound that will never really close according to Maradona.
Holder for the 1982 World Cup in Spain, Maradona lives a nightmare. Not only are his team eliminated in the group stage after a loss to Brazil (1-3), but the number 10 lets his anger speak and is guilty of an assault on the Brazilian Batista and is sent off. A warm-blooded player, Maradona often finds it difficult to accept the treatment he receives on the green rectangle, where opposing defenders try to stop him by all means.
Transferred from Boca Juniors to FC Barcelona following the Spanish World Cup, Maradona was voted best player in the championship for his first season (1982-1983). But the whimsical Argentinian takes advantage of the Catalan nights a little too much and begins to consume cocaine there. In the summer of 1984, « El Pibe de Oro » « flew to Italy and landed in Naples. After two encouraging first seasons, he won the first Napoli title in 1987, under the nose and beard of Juventus Turin by Michel Platini, who would repeat the feat four years later.
But more than his record, it is his attitude that will create the legend. In the 1986 World Cup for Argentina, Maradona scored two goals against England in the quarter-finals. In the 51st minute, he deceived the opposing goalkeeper and the referee by opening the scoring with his hand. « This goal, I scored it a bit with the head and a bit with the hand of God, » he said after the match. Minutes later, he scored what is probably the best goal in history today. A meeting that perfectly sums up the complex personality of the player, a genius who does not hesitate to break the rules.