2020 continues to be unforgiving as it took down a legend in the world of football.
Diego Armando Maradona, renowned as one of the greatest footballers of all time breathed his last yesterday, leaving football fans across generations – grieving.
As a child, The Argentinian football player and manager, fondly called ‘El Pibe de Oro – The Golden Boy’, would do keepie-ups with crumpled newspaper, ensuring the ball never touched the ground. This prodigious talent was scouted at age 8 and began his international career in 1977 at the young age of 16.
Hoje despeço-me de um amigo e o Mundo despede-se de um génio eterno. Um dos melhores de todos os tempos. Um mágico inigualável. Parte demasiado cedo, mas deixa um legado sem limites e um vazio que jamais será preenchido. Descansa em paz, craque. Nunca serás esquecido.🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/WTS21uxmdL— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) November 25, 2020
“Today I say goodbye to a friend and the world says goodbye to an eternal genius. One of the best ever. An unparalleled magician. He leaves too soon, but leaves a legacy without limits and a void that will never be filled. Rest in peace, ace. You will never be forgotten.”
In his career, the former attacking midfielder scored 34 goals in 91 appearances for Argentina, representing them in four World Cups. Maradona was captain when Argentina won the 1986 World Cup, scoring the famous Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the quarter-finals, a win he justified and clarified much later in life. During the tournament, Maradona attempted and created more than half of Argentina’s shots, attempting a tournament-best of 90 dribbles. At the end of the World Cup, Maradona went on to win the Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament by unanimous vote.
Short and stocky, at just 5ft 5in, he was not your typical athlete, but a rare combination of skill, agility, vision, ball control, dribbling and flamboyance. He was a strategist and an intelligent team player. Armando Maradona was the first player in football history to set the world record transfer fee twice, first when he transferred to Barcelona for a then-world record £5 million, and second, when he transferred to Napoli for another record fee £6.9 million.
Napoli, guided by Diego Maradona, won the 64-team UEFA Cup in May 1989. The trophy lifted 30 years ago remains the first, and to date, only major European title the club has ever won.
Que notícia triste. Eu perdi um grande amigo e o mundo perdeu uma lenda. Ainda há muito a ser dito, mas por agora, que Deus dê força para os familiares. Um dia, eu espero que possamos jogar bola juntos no céu. pic.twitter.com/6Li76HTikA— Pelé (@Pele) November 25, 2020
“What sad news. I lost a great friend and the world lost a legend. There is still much to be said, but for now, may God give strength to family members. One day, I hope we can play ball together in the sky.”
His stint as a manager for the Argentinian team which began in 2008 was less than successful. He managed to lead Argentina to the quarter-finals but failed to get the best out of Messi. “I have given all that I have”, he told media, critics and fans, before leaving at the end of the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament. Maradona then went on to coach Dubai based Al Wasl Club in the UAE Pro-League, 2011–12 season.
Diego Maradona was a finisher and goal scorer. He made 694 appearances and scored 354 goals for club and country combined, with a goalscoring average of 0.51. In a poll to determine the greatest player of the 20th Century, Maradona pipped his South American rival – Pele, before FIFA changed the voting rules so both players were honoured.
His god-like status earned him adulation in the form of a memorial – the Church of Maradona in Buenos Aires. Despite his turbulent career, Diego Armando Maradona will be best known for his exploits on the field as one of the greatest to ever play the game of football.