Diego Maradona

Summary

Diego Armando Maradona (October 30, 1960, Lanús – November 25, 2020, Dique Luhan) is an Argentine footballer, who played as an attacking midfielder and forward. He played for clubs Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newells Old Boys, as well as the Argentine national team. World champion in 1986, vice-world champion in 1990. World Youth Team Champion in 1979. Best player of the 1986 World Cup. South American Footballer of the Year in 1979 and 1980. Twice member of the symbolic teams of the World Championships. Champion of Argentina with the club Boca Juniors. Two-time champion of Italy with Napoli.

Maradona is an honorary citizen of Buenos Aires. The stadium of the Argentinos Juniors club, opened on December 26, 2003, the day of his debut with the team, and the Napoli club stadium are named after Diego. In June 2005 Maradona received the Faustino Sarmiento Award from the Argentine Senate.

Maradona”s sports career was curtailed by a drug addiction that forced him to leave soccer for a time due to disqualification and treatment. Maradona was also involved in several lawsuits, including an arrest in April 1991 for cocaine possession and a two-year probation he received in 1999 for shooting journalists with an air rifle in the summer of 1994. After his career as a player ended, Maradona worked as a television commentator for channels in Argentina and Italy. From June 2005 to August 2006 he was vice president of the soccer commission of the club Boca Juniors. He has acted in several films. From October 2008 to July 2010 Maradona served as head coach of the national team of Argentina, with which he reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 2010.

The Young Years

Diego Armando Maradona was born at 5 a.m. on Sunday, October 30, 1960, at the Evita Polyclinic in Lanús, which is in the province of Buenos Aires. He was born into the family of Don Diego, a hereditary worker who toiled in the Tritumol mill, and his wife, the housewife Dalma Salvadora Franco. Maradona was the fifth child in the family, but the first boy: before him were born four sisters – Rita, Ana, Elsa and Maria. Dalma Salvadora later said: “He came easier to me than the others. On Saturday I felt great all day and at night they took me to the clinic. He came into the world very quickly. At that moment I prayed for one thing only: that he would be born healthy and become a good man. Luckily, it all seems to have come true, and I would even say more than that.

According to the results of Narciso Binagnan”s research, disputed by many experts in the field of genealogy, Maradona”s family roots come from Italy, in particular, he is a descendant of Marco Polo. Diego also has Croatian roots: Salvadora”s grandmother had the maiden name of Kariolić, and her father was from the island of Korcula.

At the age of 10 months, Diego learned to walk. Like most children in Argentina, Maradona started playing soccer at a young age. It was hard to call what the children played soccer, just running around and kicking the ball.

When Maradona was 7 years old, his cousin Beto, son of his aunt Nena, gave him the very first ball in his life. Diego was so happy with the gift that he fell asleep with it in his arms that first night. Then Diego took the ball outside to brag about it in front of the yard, but, deciding not to give the ball to anyone, carried it home. All winter the ball remained in Diego”s room, only occasionally he chased it around the house with his sisters. In the spring, Diego still decided to take it out into the yard: his father showed him how to hit it, and his son practiced for a long time against the wall, just striking with his left foot.

When Diego learned to kick the ball well after training, he began to play full-fledged soccer with the older boys. Little Diego did not succeed in the game, the older players would skip past or beat him, and the offended Maradona would grab the ball with his hands and hold it against him. Gradually, Maradona got used to soccer and began to play like everyone else on the field. He could play for hours on the vacant lot called “Seven Fields”, where yard games were held. Diego preferred to play in the libero position, only at a later age he moved to the offense. Gradually Maradona became one of the most technical players of the yard, and high school teams always wanted Diego to play for them. After Maradona went to Remedios de Escalada San Martin High School, he was almost immediately included in the Escalada soccer team, where the juniors played. In 1999, Diego wrote in his book, “I always say that I became a professional from a very young age: I played for the team that invited me first, sometimes they wouldn”t let me out of the house, and then I roared like crazy. Still, five minutes before the start of our match, Tota always gave me permission. Well, it took much more effort to convince Don Diego, my father. I understood my old man, and how could I not when he was literally exhausted so that we could eat and learn? And he really wanted me to learn.

Diego”s family lived in Villa Fiorito, at the intersection of Asamor and Mario Bravo Streets, in a three-room house on the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires, one of the poorest in the city. Maradona”s family was also poor, and so the children, to help their parents, molded clay flower jars, sold them at the local market and gave all the money they earned to their mother. Engaged in this and Diego. He later said: “If my parents asked me for the moon, I would do anything to get it. But it would be nothing compared to what they did for me.

“Onions.”

When Maradona was 8 years old, he met Goyo Carrizo, a 10-year-old boy who played in the Argentinos Juniors kids” team. Carrizo was very passionate about soccer, that”s how the guys became friends – the more experienced Carrizo told Maradona about the great soccer players of the past that Maradona was interested in.

In mid-1969, Carrizo introduced Maradona to Francisco Cornejo, scout for Argentinos Juniors and coach of the under-14 team. At the team”s first preview, Diego played so well that Cornejo did not believe Maradona”s age, thinking he was a midget. Cornejo invited Maradona to attend training sessions of the club”s adult team, where Diego, like other young players, pitched balls to players. From these guys Cornejo created a team “Los Sebolitas” (“Onions”), which was the youth team of Argentinos Juniors. He provided them with uniforms and a field where they had regular training sessions. The team was quite strong: the young players beat all the local youth teams. Leading “Lukovichki” was Maradona, with excellent technique, the ability to make the right decisions on the field and excellent physical form, through which he could run both halves of almost never tired. Another valuable quality of Diego was the fact that after kicks he did not fall down. Francisco Cornejo said: “Even then Diego Maradona could do almost everything with the ball. He was like a wooden doll: no matter how much you push him, he always stays on his feet. At the same time, Diego was three years younger than the rest of the team.

With each match the “Onions” progressed, victories with a double-digit score became regular. The apotheosis of their game was the match held September 28, 1971, in which Maradona”s team defeated the youth team “River Plate” with the score 7:1. In this game Diego, who at that time was only 10 years old, scored 5 goals. At the same time, before the game he promised his injured team-mate that he would score two goals for himself and three for him: “On the field we were like a machine. We were beating everybody, even 20-0. We dreamed to play against the famous juniors from River Plate, who were the champions of Argentina. Finally that match happened. We won 7-1, I got a great goal and scored five in total, as promised. You should have seen how angry the opponent was and chased me all over the field”. Since that match, Maradona became the talk of the future star of Argentine soccer, and the newspaper Clarín wrote an article about Diego in which they mistakenly called him Caradona. The team played so strongly that it reached a figure of 136 consecutive games without defeat. Before the game with the youth team “Banfield” Diego seriously injured his hand, he had seven stitches, Cornejo did not want to let him on the field, but Maradona persuaded the coach and was able to play in the match, where he scored 5 goals, and his club won 7-1. Along with playing in domestic competitions, the team participated in tournaments in Peru and Uruguay. In addition to playing for the Onions, Maradona performed at halftime of Argentinos Juniors matches, coaching the ball. For this skill he was called to the television program “Sabados Circulares”.

Since the age of 12 Maradona played for the youth team of Argentinos Juniors. In order for Diego to play for the Juniors, the team”s head coach had to hide Diego”s age, which was below the minimum allowed. Therefore, Maradona played for the Red Beetles under a false name. In 1973, the Argentinos youth team defeated River Plate 5-4 in the final of the Evita Cup, in this game Maradona scored a goal, beating seven men. A week after the game, William Keith, who was president of River Plate, offered to buy Diego”s father Maradona, but he refused. The following year the team won the championship of the ninth league of Argentina, reaching the eighth league. In 1975 the club has achieved a gap from the nearest pursuer in the championship in 10 points, and Diego was sent to the seventh team “Argentinos”. In the seventh team he played only two games, and he was immediately transferred to the fifth team. In the fifth team Maradona played 4 games and was transferred to the third team. Diego spent three games with the third team. After that Maradona was transferred to the main team of Argentinos Juniors.

Despite these achievements, Maradona”s family was still poor. Diego had brothers Raúl and Hugo, and then a sister, Claudia. The father encouraged his son”s passion, taking him to the club every day after work to train, hoping that he could become a famous soccer player and bring the family out of poverty: “The father continued to work in the mill. He always came home from work tired. He worked two shifts, morning and evening. Grain was brought in almost around the clock, and the fresh grind was immediately returned to the owner. However, in the afternoon, after lunch, he would take me by the hand and take me to the club…”.

“Argentinos Juniors.

October 20, 1976 Maradona 10 days before his 16th birthday he made his debut in the main “Argentinos Juniors”, coming out 10 minutes before the end of the meeting at number 16 in the championship match in Argentina. Despite the fact that the “Red Beetles” lost the match against the club “Talleres”, Maradona immediately showed himself, making several passes, and also organized a goal, not realized by Jorge Lopez, after which the defense of “Talleres” Juan Cabrera was asked from the bench coach personally to guard the 16-year-old player. On the evening after the match, Maradona said: “On this day I touched the sky with my hands.” After the game Maradona even received a small fee, but the biggest reward was the respect of the fans, as well as the reviews of the press:

The young player Maradona, who entered the field at the end of the match (he will be sixteen in ten days), significantly strengthened the attack. His ball-handling skills stood out even against the background of the players from Córdoba, who are rightly considered the best technicians in Argentine soccer. However, even this trickster was unable to penetrate the iron defense of the Taglierez, and the Argentinos were forced to lose 0-1.

In the next game against the Newells Old Boys, Maradona was in the starting lineup. However, the match was unsuccessful both for Maradona and for the club, which lost 2:4. After that the young player for several months was sent to play for the second lineup of “Juniors”. Only on November 14 he was back on the field in the match against the club San Lorenzo, replacing at the end of the second half Giacobetti. And here Maradona showed his talent, for a short time by scoring two goals. After that match Diego has already become a player basics “Red Beetles”, spending 11 games and scored two goals. The press spoke positively about the game of the young player, but he himself said that he still had a lot to learn.

In 1977 César Luis Menotti, head coach of Argentina, called Maradona in a friendly match against Hungary, held on February 27. Maradona came out 20 minutes before the end of the meeting, replacing Leopoldo Luque, but did not show anything special. Diego himself was not satisfied with his game in this match. The challenge was unexpected: at that time Maradona spent for the main “Juniors” squad only 12 games.

In February (I was sixteen at the time) I made my national team debut in a game at the familiar Boca Juniors stadium against the Hungarian national team. I was invited by Menotti himself. He called me on the phone: “Maradona, Maradona, is that you?” he asked me twice. – I put you in the squad for the game with the Hungarians. Will you come?” Menotti was being sly when he asked that question. He knew that if he called any Argentine player into the national team, he would immediately rush to the training camp.

April 3 the same year Maradona made his debut in the youth national team of Argentina, in which played in the junior championship of South America, held in the same year in Venezuela. There Diego played all 3 matches of the national team. For the “Red Beetles” Maradona also spent a good season, having played in 49 games and scored 19 goals. For the young Argentine talent began to “hunt” leading South American and European clubs, but Diego refused all, preferring in a quiet atmosphere to prepare for the World Cup, a trip where Maradona was one of the candidates.

But Diego did not go to the World Cup: 13 days before the start of the tournament, he became the last person excluded from the preliminary application of the national team. This announcement made the young Diego hysterical. Three days later he even called Menotti at home and begged him to go to the Mundial, but he refused. Maradona said, “It was the hardest defeat of my life. Being in great shape, burning with the desire to play for your team and being out of action – you can”t go through that.

A possible reason for not inviting Maradona to the tournament was that Menotti did not like his extremely explosive character. The head coach called him a “savage” and accused him of giving interviews only for money, on the advice of his impresario. Another reason was that the team leader Daniel Passarella did not want to see young players in the squad, and especially Diego. Returning to the Argentinos from the national team, Maradona played a match with the club Chacarita Juniors, where he scored 2 goals and made 2 assists; his club won the match 5:0. In total Maradona scored 25 goals in 35 matches played during the season, including 22 goals in the Metropolitano, becoming the top scorer of the championship. After the World Cup, where Argentina won its first-ever title, Menotti called up several youth players to the Argentine main team, among them Maradona. In the Nacional Argentina Maradona played 4 games and scored 4 goals.

In the summer of 1978 Diego could move to English club Sheffield United. The new head coach Harry Haslem came to Argentina to watch Maradona matches. He was impressed with Diego”s game and concluded a preliminary agreement with Argentinos Juniors on the transfer of the player for 200 thousand pounds. But the club could collect only 160,000, so the deal did not take place, and instead of Diego another Argentine – Alejandro Sabella was bought. According to Harry”s son Keita, an agreement between his father and the Juniors” management was reached on the sum of 400 thousand pounds, but the club”s manager John Hassel refused the deal, stating: “There is no 18-year-old player worth 400 thousand pounds.

In 1979 Maradona participated in the youth team at the championship of South America. There Argentines took second place, losing only to the tournament hosts, the team of Uruguay. In the tournament Diego spent 5 out of 6 games of his team. The same year he went as team captain to the World Youth Championship in Japan. He made his debut at the championship on August 26 in a match against Indonesia, which the Argentines won 5-0, with Diego scoring two goals. At the tournament the Argentines won all matches, conceding only two goals, becoming the best team in the world, and Maradona himself, who did not play only in the final 14 against Algeria, was named the best player of the championship and scored in every game played, except the match against Yugoslavia. Moreover, in the final against the Soviet Union Maradona scored the last goal of the match, which finally “confirmed” the score in the game. According to Diego, the youth team of 1979 was the best team of his career, in which he played.

At club level, Maradona, with Argentinos Juniors, was the top scorer of the Metropolitano and Nacional, scoring 14 and 12 goals respectively. At the end of a season in which his club did not perform well, Maradona was named Best Player and Best Athlete of Argentina, scoring a total of 26 goals in 27 games played. In the national team of Argentina in 1979, Diego scored the first goal, hitting the gate on June 2, Scotland in a friendly game. In the same year he, as part of the team, went to the America”s Cup, where he spent 2 games and scored 1 goal, hitting the gate to Bolivia. At this tournament, “Albiceleste” performed unsuccessfully, finishing in last place in its group.

The following year Maradona was again the top scorer of both Argentine championships with 25 and 18 goals, making him the only player in Argentine history to become the top scorer of the national championships 5 times. Diego”s goals helped his club finish second in the Metropolitano. On September 14, Maradona scored his 100th goal at the professional level, hitting the goal of San Lorenzo. However, too much media attention and Diego”s constant absences to the national team had a bad effect on the club”s attitude towards Maradona. At Argentinos Juniors, half of the players did not communicate with Diego, and the club coach demanded goals first in every match, and then in every half. In October, on the eve of the club”s match against Boca Juniors, Boca goalkeeper Hugo Orlando Gatti said in an interview that Maradona is not a bad player, but the media overblown his importance and also called Diego a “fatty.” In response, Maradona called Gatti jealous in the press and said he concedes “stupid goals.” Before the game Gatti came up to Diego and said that he did not say anything like that, but he did not care anymore: Maradona, angered by the words of the goalkeeper, scored 4 goals. That match is considered by many to be Diego”s best game with Argentinos Juniors. After the game Maradona expected approval from the club management, but instead of praise he was told: “For you it is normal. You get paid for goals.” After that, Maradona stopped going to training and started looking for a new club. A candidate for the purchase of Maradona was “River Plate”, offering Diego a salary equal to that of the highest paid player of the team, Ubaldo Filholet. But Maradona did not want to move to River: in an interview he said that he had been invited by Boca Juniors, although this was not true. After these words, Boca began negotiations for the transfer of the striker. On February 20, Maradona became a player for Boca Juniors. This transfer was called the “transfer of the century.” Diego transferred to the Genoese on loan with a gradual purchase of the player”s contract by the club for a total of $ 3.6 million. This money Boca paid for a year and a half. Under the contract, the Genoese had to pay $ 600 thousand dollars “lift” to Maradona himself, but because of the team”s problems with finances, the club instead of cash gave Diego two apartments in the houses of businessman Tito Gurovich in the areas of Correia and Libertador and Repubblica de la India.

In the national team of Argentina in 1980, Maradona spent 10 games in which he scored 6 goals. The most productive for Diego was the match against Austria on May 21, in which he made his first and last hat-trick in the national team shirt.

“Boca Juniors.

With “Boca” Maradona signed one of the most financially advantageous contracts in Argentine soccer – he was paid a year 15 salaries of 60 thousand dollars, as well as 10 thousand for each exhibition match. The club also insured Diego – in case of injury, “Boca” would receive 500 thousand dollars. This transition has changed not only the life of the player, but also the lives of his family, who had moved to a new spacious home. On the day Diego signed his contract, he played in a friendly match between Argentinos Juniors and Boca Juniors, playing a half for each team and scoring for Boca from the penalty spot.

Maradona made his official debut for the Genoese on February 22. In the match with the rival of “Boca”, “Talleres”, Maradona”s club won 4:1, and Diego himself scored two goals. At the same time he came out for the game with an injury, received while playing for “Argentinos Juniors”: he had a sore right leg muscles. Despite the pain Diego continued to play for the club until March 8, when he was discovered to have torn muscle tissue in his thigh, due to which he had to refuse to play until March 29. On April 10, a few days after recovering from the injury, Maradona played in his first Superclasico, a classic clash between Boca and River Plate. The game was played at Bombonera; Bokita won 3-0, and Maradona scored one of his team”s 3 goals (the other two were scored by Brindisi), beating Filhoel and Tarantini.

Also in 1981 Maradona had a conflict with the head coach Silvio Marsolini, who did not give the freedom of the game, which the forward had in “Argentinos”. In addition Marsonini was a very demanding coach when it came to discipline and training, which Diego did not like. According to Maradona, Marsolini was afraid that Diego might get out of control. In addition, the team suffered from the “12” fan group who, after 4 consecutive games without wins, broke into the team”s base with guns, demanding better results.

Maradona won the Metropolitano with Boca, drawing 1-1 with Racinha in the last round, a goal scored by Diego himself on a penalty kick. After the game with River Plate, the main rival of the Genoese secretly offered Maradona a super-beneficial contract, but he refused. The Nacional tournament was unsuccessful for Boca: the club lost in the final 14 to Velez Sarsfield, and Maradona was suspended in the first game with this team and did not take part in the second due to the disqualification caused by the suspension. The match against Velez was the last game Maradona played for Boca in the Argentine championship during his first stint at the club. The loss was attributed to the large number of friendly matches played by the team, which Boca was forced to play due to the club”s poor financial situation. After one of the defeats, Pablo Abbatangelo, a member of the club”s board of directors, came into the Boca locker room and hinted that the players were not fully committed on the pitch. To this, Diego, on the air of the television program “60 Minutes”, called Abbatangelo a fool. In the national team Diego played some good matches in Europe and South America, but a little later, because of too busy schedule of games he missed some trainings and Menotti dismissed him from the team. After the negative assessment of this event in the press, the player and coach reconciled, although they did not communicate anywhere else except on the field.

In the winter of 1982 Maradona at the tournament Verano spent the last games for “Bokita”, as he had to concentrate on preparing for the World Cup in Spain. The last match in the “Boca Juniors” footballer spent February 6, 1982 with “River Plate”, and in it “Boca” was defeated. In total he played 40 matches for the club and scored 28 goals.

Argentina took four months to prepare for the World Cup. The whole of Argentina, encouraged by the national team”s victory in the last World Cup and the success of the junior team in 1979, demanded that the team win. The championship for Argentina began June 13 in a match against Belgium; in this game the Argentines were defeated 0-1. This match was the first for Diego at the world championships. In it he hit the crossbar with a free kick. In the second game Argentina defeated Hungary 4-1; Maradona was the best on the field and scored twice, on 28th and 57th minutes. In game 3, Argentina defeated El Salvador 2-0 and advanced from the group to the second round from 2nd place.

The second round also consisted of a group stage, with 12 teams that made up 4 groups, with group winners going on to the semifinals and the remaining teams finishing. Argentina ended up in Group 3, along with Italy and Brazil. In the first match of the second group tournament Argentina faced Italy and lost 1:2. Against Maradona personally acted Claudio Gentile, who coped with the control of the Argentine, except when Diego hit the crossbar. According to some experts, the main referee of the meeting should have removed Claudio, who acted very tough with the Argentine, who insulted the defender the whole game: “Maradona insulted me, my mother and told me everything”. In the second match Argentina lost to Brazil 1:3 and Maradona, who was the most active member of the Albiceleste team, was sent off in the 85th minute after hitting Batista. Argentina thus failed to live up to the expectations that were placed on it before the tournament.

One of the reasons for the unsuccessful performance is the attention of defenders, who played harshly and sometimes rudely against Diego. It is because of this Maradona was suspended in the last game against Brazil, when he hit Batista, who violated the rules against him. According to Diego, the reason for the unsuccessful performance of the team was the poor physical preparation of the team, which was very intense, as a result, the Argentine players came to the tournament very tired.

He was beaten so badly that I was afraid he would be killed. In Spain, Maradona was already a star, and against every star they always play especially carefully, harshly, sometimes roughly. Maybe he was inexperienced then. It was his first time at the World Cup. And, of course, he did not expect that they would play against him so meanly and was not psychologically prepared for that. Rinat Dasaev about Maradona at the 1982 World Cup.

Catalonia welcomed Maradona as a real soccer star: all the newspapers placed on the front pages a report on the arrival of Diego. His debut game was a match on Sept. 4, 1982 with Valencia, in which “Barça” lost 1:2. After the first matches the player has become a true idol of the Spanish public, and often local commentators, describing the successful individual actions of players, saying “played like Maradona. He spent in the championship of Spain 15 games and scored 6 goals before in December he was diagnosed with hepatitis. Because of this illness Maradona was left without soccer for three months. Without Maradona Barcelona played 14 league games and several Cup Cup games where the Red Granatas crashed out in the final 14.

On March 12, 1983 Maradona again took the field in a match against Betis. In this match, “Barcelona” for the first time led the new head coach of Barcelona and Maradona”s former mentor in the national team of Argentina, César Luis Menotti. His arrival to the coaching bridge of “blue-granata” Diego supported: the former head coach of the club, Udo Lattec, was engaged in training exclusively running exercises on endurance, which did not like Maradona at all. In the second game after his return Diego scored three goals against Las Palmas. Soon after Maradona”s recovery and Menotti”s appointment as head coach of Barcelona, the club achieved a victory in the Spanish Cup. All in all, in his first season in Europe, Maradona played 35 matches and scored 23 goals. In the championship Barça took fourth place. That same season Diego helped his club win the Spanish League Cup, where he scored a goal in each of two matches against rival Real Madrid; the goal, scored at the Santiago Bernabeu, caused applause from Real fans, who appreciated the beauty of the moment when Maradona, having beaten two defenders and the goalie, paused, which resulted in the Royal Club defender hitting the bar and only after that scored a goal.

The season 19831984 started unsuccessfully for Maradona. September 24, 1983 Barcelona met in the 4th round of the Spanish championship with the club Athletic; in this game, which Barça won 4:0, the footballer received a very serious injury: Atletico player Andoni Goicoechea, the entire match kicking Diego on the legs, on the 59th minute of the meeting broke his ankle and inflicted several smaller injuries. Because of this episode, a fight broke out on the field, in which all the representatives of the teams took part. Maradona was operated in a clinic in Barcelona by Dr. Gonzalez Adrio, who said that Diego would be able to return to the field only in 6 months. Then Diego underwent a period of rehabilitation with a sports physician, Rubén Darío Oliva. Thanks to this doctor”s treatment, on January 8, 1984 in the match against Sevilla Maradona was back on the pitch, and with two scoring passes he helped his club win 3-1. Despite his successful return, after several unimpressive matches the audience, who remembered the game before his injury, began to boo him, in response Diego has threatened her fist, which is not liked the fans “blue-granata. In the season 19831984 Diego spent on the field 23 games and scored 15 goals, and “Barcelona” took only the 3rd place in the championship. Also, “Barça” reached Spanish Cup final, where it faced Athletic, which became the champion of Spain, with Goicoechea in the lineup, and lost 0:1. Immediately after the game, Maradona attacked Athletic player Saul with his fists, resulting in a fight on the field involving almost all the players of the teams. After the game several players from both clubs were suspended, Maradona as one of the instigators of the fight was suspended for 3 months.

In addition to Maradona”s soccer performances, the press paid a great deal of attention to his salary and his behavior outside of soccer. In addition, the president of the team, Josep Nuñez, criticized his player for frequent visits to nightclubs. Once Nunez even took away Maradona”s passport to prevent him from going to Paul Breitner”s farewell match. Diego”s passport was only returned when he went to the club office, where he made a scandal and smashed the Teresa Herrera Cup. But Maradona was not released for Breitner”s farewell match. Due to all these circumstances, injuries, illnesses and misunderstandings with Núñez, Maradona, in consultation with his common-law wife Claudia, decided to leave Barcelona. Diego was even ready to buy out the club”s contract. Soon the Catalan team received an offer from Italy: the club Napoli offered to buy the transfer player.

In just two seasons at Barcelona, Maradona played 58 games and scored 38 goals. In 1999, in honor of the centennial of “Barça” on Catalan television, a poll among fans, according to which Maradona – the third player in the history of the club, ahead of only Ladislav Kubala and Johan Cruyff. Despite a generally good performance for the Blues, Maradona later said that the move to Barcelona was a mistake.

“Napoli”

June 29, 1984 former footballer and then manager of the club Napoli, Antonio Iuliano began negotiations with Barcelona for the transfer of Maradona. And the very next day the deal was done, the clubs agreed on a transfer worth 14 billion lire (about $ 7.6 million), the largest at that time, paid by soccer clubs for the transition of the player, and 800 thousand to Maradona himself, who signed a contract until June 1989.

On Maradona”s first arrival in Naples he was greeted by a huge crowd of fans. Club fans lifted Maradona in their arms and carried him all the way to the city. On July 5 Maradona”s official presentation as a Napoli player took place. It took place at the Stadio San Paolo, where 70,000 spectators gathered to see the new player, who, standing in a white shirt and blue pants (Napoli”s official colors), first said his first words in Italian: “Good evening, people of Naples, I am happy to be with you,” and then did a circle of honor, greeting fans in all the stands: “It was an unforgettable reception and an unforgettable day for me. It was like opening a new page of my biography and at the same time opening up a new world for me.

Maradona made his debut for Napoli on September 16, in an away match against Verona that ended 1-3. In the second game of the azzurri Maradona hit the goal of the club Sampdoria and first took the ball from the net and kissed it, which subsequently became a tradition – so Maradona celebrated all his goals. On November 19, 84 minutes into the away game with Ascoli, with the score 1-1 Maradona received his first red card in the Neapolitan club. He pushed Enrico Nicolini who fell on the pitch, grabbing his face and both players were sent off as a result. In general, in the first season with Maradona Napoli did not play very well: in the middle of the season the club was even in the zone of relegation from Series A, but after a series of successful matches the Neapolitan team rectified the situation and took eighth place. That season Maradona hit the gate 14 times, becoming the most productive in the team, scoring a total of 34 goals. At the end of the season, Maradona said it was his first victory in Italy.

Before the start of the season 19851986 Napoli began to strengthen the squad with new players, the goalkeeper Garella, Italian champion with Verona forward Giordano and midfielder Renica came to the club. The latter two joined the team on Maradona”s recommendation. The club took the 3rd place in the championship, and also defeated Juventus (who lost only three times in that championship) at home game thanks to Maradona”s only goal. That same year, Maradona scored one of his most famous goals, hitting the gate of Verona, the champion of last season: throwing the ball in the air, Maradona shot from 40 meters, skipping the goalkeeper of the Verona team Giuliano Giuliani who was far out of the gate.

Maradona had not played for Argentina since the 1982 World Cup. In 1983, the national team of Argentina was headed by Carlos Bilardo. His first step was the appointment of Diego as team captain, for which he personally came to Spain: “Captain of the national team. What I”ve always dreamed of. To represent all the Argentine players – yes, all of them. In all my interviews I said I wanted to end my career as captain of the Argentine national team.” Initially the new mentor of the Argentines wanted to create a team with only the players of the national championship, and Diego to call only for the final games. But soon changed his mind and invited Maradona in a friendly match on May 10, 1985 with Paraguay, which ended in a 1:1 draw, in this game Diego scored the only goal for the Argentines.

Qualifying for the World Cup consisted of a group tournament. Argentina”s group included Venezuela, Colombia, and Peru. The Argentines began with a match against Venezuela in San Cristobal, during the arrival there, one of the Venezuelans ran up to Diego and kicked him in the right knee, causing Maradona to lie with ice on his leg all night, but then went into the match and scored two goals, and his team won 3:2. A series of 3 wins followed, ending in a 0-1 loss to Peru. In the last game, against the same Peru, Argentina drew 2-2 and advanced to the World Cup finals.

Preparatory matches of the Argentine team for the World Cup were unsuccessful: the team played a draw with Mexico, lost to France 0-2, won 1-0 against Grasshopper, beat Israel 7-2 and played a zero draw with the club Atletico Junior.

After this series of games, Bilardo decided to “put” the Argentine game around Maradona. This was not easy for him, Bilardo was criticized by everyone, even the President of the country, mainly for the rejection of the traditions of Argentine soccer and the closing of the “door” to the veterans in the national team. It went so far that a decision was being prepared to remove Bilardo as coach of the national team, and only after the intervention of Maradona, who said “if Bilardo leaves, I leave too”, the decision was reversed. To build a game around Diego Bilardo personally came to Italy, where Maradona was playing: “I could have sent Maradona an official invitation to the national team and a plane ticket to Mexico City, but then I would have received a strange “Italian” Maradona, and I needed a real Argentine, passionate about my idea, a player of my team. During a personal conversation with Maradona, Bilardo said it would be his championship and offered him the captain”s armband. He told Maradona that his place was not in the center of the field, but behind the backs of the strikers, where he could develop attacks in any direction. But Bilardo promised all this with one condition: for 30 days Maradona would forget everything, all his hobbies and habits for the sake of soccer. Bilardo even asked Maradona to swear that he would not break the regime: “Before I became captain, the main thing for me was to show in the game what I can do. Now it”s all about the whole team. Bilardo himself trusted Diego completely: in particular, he did not take Ramon Diaz, who had a conflict with Maradona, to the national team; Diego himself denied these accusations, saying that he himself asked Bilardo to take Diaz, but he refused.

Many players on the national team, in particular Daniel Passarella, the only 1978 world champion, were against giving the captaincy to Maradona, as were some officials of the soccer federation. Passarella himself believed that he should be the national team captain. It got to the point that when Daniel got an upset stomach, he did not take his medication for fear that Maradona would dope him. After the match against Atlético Juníor, Maradona and Passarella had a quarrel that turned into mutual accusations. However, after Diego revealed that Passarella was dating the wife of one of the national team players, the whole team sided with Maradona. Passarella left the national team, although he remained in the national team bid for the World Cup.

Maradona began his preparations for the World Cup at the Institute of Sport in Rome under the guidance of Professor Antonio del Monte, a specialist in the adaptation of athletes to high altitude, who worked with Maradona at the request of Bilardo. For 5 weeks Diego went to del Monte on Mondays, where he took tests, and on the other days he did endurance training.

I worked not on Maradona, but with Maradona. Moreover, practically the whole faculty took part in this work. And Maradona was not a passive client, but an active, interested participant in this work, a man who seeks to learn as much as possible about himself. He is a very sensitive person, with a delicate nervous activity and a sharp mind. And I would also note an obsession, a dedication to the cause he loves – soccer. Even then it seemed to me that Maradona alone is able to beat everyone. Perseverance, will, patience did their job. I believed in the abilities of this young man. His low center of gravity and strong legs made him a bogatyr on the soccer field. Muscular elasticity, muscular power successfully combined with excellent reaction and extraordinary endurance. Physically he could be compared with Apollo. Morally, he was a Gadfly, always ready to fight for victory. Any team needs such an athlete. His small feet are a wonderful mechanism. Maradona is like a car with a powerful motor and small wheels. Such a car is the earliest to accelerate. Nature has awarded him the ability to quickly tense and relax muscles, instantly change the direction of the movement. During training on the soccer field in Mexico, my colleagues and I watched all his movements with a chronometer, and it was obvious that his body acted like a perfect machine. No player who participated in the championship, even among the Mexicans accustomed to heights, was able to surpass him in skill or athleticism.

During the preparation Maradona devoted all his time to soccer, did not go to parties, even avoided meetings with friends. He was on schedule to get up at 8 and go to bed at 10, and he performed the daily captain”s ritual: before going to bed he went around to his teammates and wished them good night, believing that the captain should be the soul of the team.

Just before the final tournament, Maradona said: “This championship will be mine!”. Argentina”s first match was played in Mexico City. Initially the Argentine players had more rest than training, they visited local museums, rode camels, gradually acclimatizing to the highlands. The game took place on June 2, in which Argentina quite easily defeated South Korea 3-1. After the match Diego accused FIFA of not taking enough care of the technical players and the fact that the games started at 12 noon, when it was very hot. In the second game the Argentines faced Italy, the world champion. Account in the match was opened by Italians, but at the 34th minute Maradona scored the return goal, which Diego himself called one of his best goals of his career, resulting in a draw 1:1. In the third game, Argentina defeated Bulgaria 2-0 (Maradona contributed the goal) and advanced to the final 18. In the 18th final Argentina faced Uruguay, the match took place on June 16 in the city of Puebla. In that game Argentina won 1-0, thanks to a Pedro Pascuglia goal. This victory was the first time Argentina had defeated Uruguay in the final parts of the World Cups.

In the final 14, Argentina faced England. The game had not only sporting overtones: 4 years before the World Cup, Argentina and Great Britain fought over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), due to which there were clashes in the stands and outside the stands of fans who remembered these events. The match took place on June 22 at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. In the 51st minute Maradona opened the scoring. Steve Hodge unsuccessfully kicked the ball to his goalkeeper Peter Shilton, and Maradona, who was 20 cm shorter than the goalkeeper, with his left hand, ahead of the goalkeeper, hammered it into the goal. The referee did not find any violation of the rules. The goal provoked a fight in the stands: the English attacked the Argentines. After the game Diego said: “I didn”t touch the ball, it was the hand of God.”

In Italy, after the match, this goal Maradona called “Arm Piola”, because of the goal scored by Silvio Piola against the British May 13, 1939. After the goal the British began to literally “hunt” for Maradona, especially zealous central defenders Terry Butcher and Terry Fenwick. A few minutes after the first goal Diego scored, beating 6 consecutive English players: Harry Stevens, Peter Reed, Steve Hodge, Terry Butcher, goalkeeper Peter Shilton and Terry Fenwick. Later, in 2002, this goal was called the best in the history of World Cups. England head coach Bobby Robson said after the game: “It was a fantastic goal”. Maradona himself said: “I loved that goal. But it was only one goal. It will not win the championship…”. At the end of the game the English won back one goal and the game ended in favor of Argentina 2-1. Maradona was dubbed the “Michelangelo of soccer” for playing in that match.

For us, for the country we represented, the game against England was the final. We were defending not just the honor of the national team, but the honor of the country. Of course, before the match we said that soccer had nothing to do with the war for the Malvinas Islands, but we knew many of the boys who had died there, shot like birds. It was revenge. It was like we had reclaimed a few islands. In the pre-match interviews we all said that soccer and politics couldn”t mix, but that was a lie. We couldn”t help but think about it. For us, winning meant more than just winning, getting to the next round and England out of the championship. In a way, we blamed the English players for everything that had happened, for all the suffering of the Argentine people. This feeling was stronger than us: we were defending the colors of the flag, the dead guys and the survivors. I think that”s why my goal meant so much. In fact, both goals. Both had their own charm.

A year after the World Cup, August 8, 1987, Maradona participated in the match to mark the centenary of the English Football League in the rest of the world team. For this match Diego earned 100 thousand pounds sterling. The game was held at Wembley, and when Maradona received the ball, there was a disgruntled buzz in the stands. After the game, Maradona said: “I don”t blame the crowd. What sometimes happened was the result of the unscrupulous work of some journalists…”. Twenty more years later, Diego said: “”God”s hand” never existed. God did help us, but I scored with my hand. Twenty-two years after the goal Maradona apologized for his act: “If I could go back in time and change history, I would. Now I can only apologize for my action. What happened is what happened, Argentina became the world champion and I became the best footballer in the world.

Before the semifinals, almost every newspaper wrote that one of two teams could win: either Argentina, led by Maradona, or France, the European champion where Michel Platini shone. Before the semi-final game Maradona said he hoped that the Belgian defenders would not use against him prohibited by the rules. The game ended 2-0, and Maradona, who was the best player of the game, scored both of his team”s goals, the second of which he scored after a pass that beat 4 Belgian players. Immediately after the final whistle, Belgian goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff quickly ran to the center of the field, where Maradona was, and exchanged shirts with him. Guy Thies, Belgium”s head coach, said: “If Maradona had played for our team – we would have made the final. But of this you can only dream. “World Cup finals were held, as the match against England, at the stadium Azteca, at an altitude of 2350 meters above sea level. German coach Franz Beckenbauer has entrusted the personal tutelage of Maradona Lothar Matthaus, who had already by 21 minutes 5 times knocked down his ward, and with a free kick, earned on the 5th foul, when Matthaus was shown a yellow card, the score was opened: with a pass Batista scored Brown. At the beginning of the second half, the Argentines led 2-0 – Valdano scored, completing the attack, initiated by Maradona. The Germans could find the strength to level the score, twice hitting the gate Pumpido after corners, but then, on 85 minutes, Burruchaga scored with a one-touch pass from the center circle to the gate given by Maradona. The game ended with the score 3-2, and in the post-match interview Maradona said that all 11 players won the game and that he, even with the score 2-2, was confident in his team”s victory. Immediately after the final, Argentine fans came to Diego”s mother”s house and showered her with flowers, dancing tango under the windows all night and raising slogans of praise for Maradona and his family. When Bilardo was asked at the celebration of Argentina”s victory, “could Argentina have made the final without Maradona,” he said:

Maradona is an extra-class soccer player, but he is inseparable from the team. There are two aspects of Maradona that are unique: hard work and discipline. He was always an example to his teammates. He was the first to go to training and the last to finish it. He is always calm and patient on the field. And most importantly, the captain of the Argentina national team was surprisingly the most disciplined player in the team. He is a great teammate. His relationship with the players, coaches, support staff is impeccable. Maradona is not only a Genius of the individual game. His brilliant performances on the field cannot overshadow the brilliant collective action for the sake of the team. As with all great masters, Maradona has a highly developed sense of understanding partners, a great art of passing. Moreover, even in the most tense moments of games, when fatigue or excitement in some of the players of the Argentine team did not work the game, Maradona not a word or gesture did not show his dissatisfaction with his teammates.

Jorge Valdano, Maradona”s national team partner, said, “You know why we won in Mexico? Because we had 20 normal players in the team and one abnormal. This abnormal and won us the championship. Diego himself later said: “Before the start of the 1986 World Cup team was a disaster. We were losing friendly matches, not the strongest clubs. Bilardo gave instructions that no one understood. After his instructions, someone else had to translate his words to us. Ask Valdano if you don”t believe me. He went on the field and did not know what he had to do. The same goes for Bourucciaga. So there is no credit to Bilardo for the Albiceleste winning the world title. The players did everything, and I played the way I saw fit.

Upon his return to Buenos Aires with the national team, Diego met with President Raul Alfonsín. The two of them went to the balcony of the Pink House and greeted the thousands of people who filled the Plaza de Maya. Thanks to his play, Maradona won the Golden Ball as the best player of the World Cup (in 1989, the trophy itself was stolen from Diego”s home in Naples). He was also the best in terms of assists and goals+passes.

In the summer of 1986 Maradona wanted to buy a new club president of “Milan” Silvio Berlusconi, who offered a salary twice as high as paid to “Napoli”, as well as a luxury car, an apartment in the most prestigious part of Milan and a share in Berlusconi”s company, “Fininvest”, but Diego refused “rossoneri”, re-signed a contract with “Napoli” with a raise of 5 million dollars a year. He was also presented with a Ferrari F40 car from Napoli”s president, the only one in the world at the time. At the same offseason in the “Azzurri” joined the Italian national team midfielder Fernando De Napoli. In the first round of the championship 19861987 Napoli defeated Brescia thanks to the only goal from Maradona, but in the next round already lost to Udinese, the team, deprived 9 points at the start of the tournament for participating in match-fixing. Before the 7th round of the championship, Napoli was in second place in the standings and played away against Roma, the only goal of the match was scored by Maradona, shot from 10 meters after a pass from Giordano. The Neapolitan club are top of Serie A after that win, and also thanks to Juventus sharing points with Inter: “This victory took a psychological weight off our shoulders. We felt we could beat any opponent.

On November 11, Napoli faced Juventus, the Italian champion and its main pursuer, in Turin and won 3-1, losing as the match progressed. After that match, the Azzurri became the leaders of the Italian championship. In the penultimate match of the first round, Napoli lost to Fiorentina 2:3 (Maradona scored his team”s second goal) due to a mistake in the final minutes of the goalkeeper Garella, but in the next match beat Ascoli and became the winter champion of Serie A. In the middle of the season the Azzurri had a slump that coincided with Maradona”s slump in the game: the Argentine could not hit the opponents” goal for 620 minutes (6 games). In the 22nd match Maradona got small injury, in the match with Roma, which caused him not to train for few days. In matchday 23, the Neapolitan club lost to Inter 0-1, and Maradona failed to implement a one-on-one. Then there was a draw against Empoli and a defeat at the hands of Verona, in a match where Maradona, who was playing with an injury, did not score a penalty. After the match against Verona, however, Maradona said: “Right now, after this defeat, I am more sure than ever that Napoli will be champion! Every team in the championship must have the worst match! We played it today. But that won”t happen again. And then, we have two points to spare!

However, the fans continued to express dissatisfaction. Four rounds before the finish, Diego said: “I”ve realized lately that Naples doesn”t love me anymore. Well, if love dries up, then there”s a divorce coming. Afterwards, the Neapolitan public was divided: some supported Diego, while others reproached him for being “childish”. April 26 Napoli defeated AC Milan (2-1), the decisive goal was on Maradona, a victory that virtually opened the way for the Neapolitan club to “Scudetto”, won two games after the draw with Fiorentina. At the end of the season, Maradona extended his contract with the Azzurri for 5 years.

In the summer Napoli played a friendly match at the home stadium with the Argentine club Rosario Central and lost 0-1, and Maradona did not score a penalty with 3 minutes to go, after which he was booed by the Neapolitan tiffosi until the final whistle. After the game, Maradona said:

The audience didn”t understand anything. They don”t want to show understanding and restraint. The day before yesterday I said: the team is just beginning the preparatory phase and the results of the trial games do not matter much. The reaction of the spectators made me bitter and disappointed. However, since 1989 they will no longer be able to boo me, because as soon as my contract is up, I will be gone.

A few days later, however, the player noted that his opinion was impulsive and hasty, and in the first official game of the season a huge banner was hung in the Napoli stands with the inscription: “Maradona! We love you! You”re forever ours!”. In the same off-season a new striker came to the club, the Brazilian Careca, and immediately found a rapport on the field with Maradona, the two players together with the Italian Giordano formed the famous attacking trio “MaGiCa” (Maradona, Giordano and Careca).

The 19881989 season was not too good for Maradona – he missed several matches due to a knee injury and back illness. For the first time he entered the field in the third round, and with him as part of Napoli beat Pescara with the score 8:2, and two of the eight goals were scored by Diego himself. But even without him, the club, which radically changed its squad with the additions of Alemao, Giuliano Giuliani and Luca Fusi, again finished second, 11 points behind the champion, Inter Milan. In the championship Maradona scored only 9 goals and 3 times in the UEFA Cup, won by the club, more often playing along with partners than scoring on his own. In the same season the Neapolitan club reached the final of the Italian Cup, but lost in it to Sampdoria with a total score of 1:4, and Maradona with 7 goals became the best scorer of his team in the tournament.

In the middle of the season Diego was offered a contract by Olympique Marseille, whose president, Bernard Tapi, offered Maradona a salary twice as high as he was getting at Napoli and a villa with a park of 6,000 square meters. On the eve of the UEFA Cup final, Napoli”s president, Corrado Ferlaino, agreed to let Diego go to Marseille if the club won the tournament. After winning the tournament, Ferlaino approached Maradona and said: “You”re not for sale. I just wanted to motivate you.”

In the 19891990 season Bianchi was replaced by Alberto Bigon as coach of Napoli. Maradona was unable to play at the start of the season due to injury, and Gianfranco Zola took his place. Without Diego in the squad the Neapolitan club in the first three games earned only 1 point. However, the player later recovered from injury and returned to the squad, which helped the club to win the second Scudetto in 5 years. Maradona scored 16 goals in the tournament, becoming the third goalscorer after Marco van Basten and Roberto Baggio. Zola later recalled that if he had not come into contact with Maradona, he definitely would not have become such a player later. For the young Gianfranco Diego served as an older brother from whom he learned a lot.

That same season the club won the Italian Super Cup, in the final of which Maradona”s team beat Juventus 5-1.

After the 1986 World Cup, Argentina”s national team stopped performing well. At the 1987 America”s Cup, the team finished only 4th, despite the play of Maradona, who, playing with adductor tendinitis, scored 3 of the national team”s 5 goals, including the first goal of the tournament, on June 27 in the 47th minute against Peru. Maradona was only one goal behind the Cup”s top scorer, Colombia”s Arnoldo Iguarán. In 1989, Argentina took 3rd place, and Maradona himself, very tired (he spent more than 50 games during the season) and had problems with the back of his thighs. A few months before the Mundial, Maradona even announced that he would refuse to participate in the world championship if he was not well prepared.

A few days before the tournament, Maradona suffered a nail detachment on his right foot. Because of this he could not run and train. On June 3 at the Dal Monte Institute in Rome Diego”s fingernail was covered with a protective splint made of carbon fiber. The very next day Maradona had a full training session.

The final tournament of the 1990 World Cup began for Argentina June 8 with a match against Cameroon at the Stadio San Siro, and in the first game Argentina lost 0:1. According to Maradona, the reason for the defeat was the fact that Claudio Ganija was not in the starting lineup of the national team, and the other national team forwards were “unscoring”. Another reason for defeat Diego called the rough play of the Cameroonians, especially Benjamin Massing, who acted personally against Maradona. The second match, against the USSR national team, was held in Naples, the home town of Diego”s club. Argentina won 2:0, and after Oleg Kuznetsov stroke Maradona knocked the ball off the goal line with his hand, but the referee of the meeting did not notice the episode. In the third game, also held in Naples, Argentina played a draw against Romania 1-1 (Diego scored a goal) and left the group in third place thanks to the higher number of points compared to the other teams in third place in their groups. In the game against Romania, Maradona suffered a painful blow on the ankle of his left foot, for which he played the remaining games on painkillers.

In the final 18, Argentina faced Brazil, with Diego”s Napoli teammates Kareca and Alemao playing for them. Most of the match the Brazilians had a huge advantage and only thanks to luck and the second goalkeeper of the Argentines Goicoechea their goal remained untouched (repeatedly the ball after Brazilian strikes hit the cage), but in the 81st minute, Maradona made his trademark pass, defeating several Brazilian players, while surrounded by three opponents, Diego was able, falling, twisting his leg and give a very accurate pass between the legs of the enemy to Claudio Canijo, who, in turn, scored the winning goal. In the final 14 Argentina defeated Yugoslavia in the penalty shootout, but Maradona did not score.

In the semifinals, the Argentines faced the tournament”s hosts, the Italians, who had previously won every match at the tournament. The game was held in Naples. On the eve of the match Diego gave an interview in which he said: “I don”t like the way everyone now urges the Neapolitans to be Italian and support the national team. Naples has always been disconnected from the rest of Italy. This city has always suffered from unfair racism.” After the interview, the head of Napoli fans, Gennaro Montuori said: “We will support Italy while respecting and applauding Argentina.” At the game itself, posters hung with the words: “Diego in our hearts, Italy in our songs,” and “Maradona, Naples loves you, but Italy is our homeland.” The game ended in a 1-1 draw, with the Argentines winning in the penalty shootout. The winning penalty kick was scored by Maradona. After the game, the Argentine flag was torn down by an unknown person at the team”s home base, which infuriated Diego.

In the final, Argentina lost to Germany 0-1 after a controversial German penalty. In this game, Maradona was remembered for the fact that he received the last yellow card at the tournament. The reason for Diego”s unsuccessful performance in the final was attributed to the play of Lothar Matthäus, who acted personally against Maradona. When the match ended, Maradona cried on the field. The post-match reward ended in scandal: Maradona refused to shake hands with FIFA president, Brazilian Joao Avelanjo, believing that he had deliberately set it up so that the Argentines would not win. For his play in the World Cup Diego received the Bronze Ball as the third player of the World Cup.

On October 11, a few months after the World Cup ended, Maradona announced:

I will not play for the national team anymore. I thought about this decision for a long time and I made my choice. It hurts me, but I leave the position of captain on the team I love, but I have to do it. I”ve been lied to, I”ve been driven out of the team. Joao Havelange was greeted like a king during his visit to Argentina, as if nothing had happened. On top of that, Julio Grondona wrote a letter to Viola, Roma”s president, thanking him for the way he treated us, and for who knows what else. So me, Ruggeri, Hiusti, Brown, we”re all idiots?! They didn”t even notice how badly we were treated in Italy! Grondona is the vice president of FIFA, but when they stole our victory in the final, he didn”t lift a finger! Despite all the pain of that decision, despite the fact that I really like being captain of the national team, I”m leaving.

After the 1990 World Cup Maradona fired his agent Guillermo Coppola and appointed a new one, Marcos Franchi. The soccer season started positively with Napoli winning the Italian Super Cup. After that Maradona played 24 more games in which he scored 10 goals. In the Champions League Napoli team played poorly, losing to Spartak Moscow; at the same time on the decisive second game Diego has not come with the team, and a day later on a private plane. On March 17, 1991, after the match of the 25th round of the Italian championship with Bari, won 1-0, the player was selected among the players who should be tested for doping. The test showed Diego had cocaine in his system. The Italian Football Federation decided to disqualify Maradona for 15 months. Lawyers tried to challenge the disqualification, but the appeal committee upheld the decision. On 24 March, a few days before his suspension, Maradona played his last match for Napoli: his club lost 1:4 to Sampdoria; the only goal of the Neapolitans was scored by Diego from a penalty.

According to Maradona, the tests were rigged thanks to the intervention of the president of the Italian Football Federation, Antonio Mattarrese, who avenged Diego for the defeat of the Italian national team from Argentina at the 1990 World Cup. Maradona himself claimed that although he took drugs, he always conducted his own doping tests, so that before the games there was no trace of drugs in his body.

On April 1, Maradona decided to return to Argentina, stating that he wanted to devote all his time to his family and that he was tired of soccer. On April 26, Maradona and two friends were arrested for drug possession: 36 grams of cocaine were found in Diego”s house on Franklin Street in Caballito. The next day, after paying a bail of 20 thousand pesos, Maradona was released from custody. Before the start of the trial Judge Amelia Berras de Vidal ordered Diego to take a course of rehabilitation. According to Diego, the whole procedure of detention was staged by the Argentine authorities. In September 1991, Maradona was sentenced in absentia in Italy to 14 months of probation for cocaine found in the basement of his house.

During the rehabilitation process, which was to help Diego get rid of his long-term addiction (the first time he tried drugs while playing for Barcelona), Maradona decided to participate in a variety of charity matches. On August 3, 1991 Diego played a match for the hospital Fernandez. He was to play in a match dedicated to the memory of Juan Gilberto Funes, a footballer who died on January 11; Maradona was with him at the moment of his death. On April 15, however, FIFA sent a fax to AFA President Julio Grondonone, in which it disapproved of the possibility of Maradona playing in the match and indicated that some sanctions could be imposed on other players for his participation, according to current rules. However, the players involved in the game unanimously decided on the presence of Diego on the field, for which referees who are not members of the FA were invited to judge the match, and the organization itself, thus, withdrew from the organization of the match. Regarding FIFA”s behavior, Maradona said: “Nobody in Argentina is going to cry for Blatter, Avelanza and other officials after they are dead.” On February 27, 1992, Maradona played a match, all fees from which went to disabled children. In the city of Posadas, Diego played a game, the fees from which went to a local hospital. Maradona also played mini-football in the television program “Rhythms of the Night”.

“Seville.”

On July 1, 1992 Maradona”s 15-month suspension ended. “Napoli” wanted to see the player in their squad again, but Diego wished to leave Italy and play for a club that would not set itself great goals in tournaments. He said: “My time at Napoli has definitely passed, and the Neapolitans are unlikely to be so happy about my return.” And after the arrival of the head coach Claudio Ranieri, who said that while he coaches Napoli, Maradona will not come to Naples even as a tourist, Diego was determined to leave the team. Negotiations began about the transfer of Maradona to Sevilla or Olympique Marseille. As a result, the case was resolved in favor of the Spanish club, which first offered $ 7,5 million for the transition of the striker. September 22, Maradona became a player of Sevilla. Maradona joined Sevilla, thanks largely to the head coach of the club, Carlos Bilardo, is very eager to see Diego in his team. The president of Sevilla said: “I understood that Maradona was no longer the same and also not in the best shape, but I invited him for the sake of the fans. And even if it cost a lot of money, but I thought I was the happiest of people. It was a dream come true – Maradona played on my team.

The player made his debut for the club on September 28 in a friendly match against Bayern, which his club won 3-1, and Diego made a goal. October 4, 1992 Maradona played his first official match for the “white-red” in the 5th round of the Spanish championship with Athletic, against which the Argentine, 8 years earlier, playing for Barcelona, played his last match in the Spanish soccer championship; in this game Diego gave a goal and his club won 2-1. While playing for Sevilla, Diego suffered from an old knee injury, so he had to spend several matches on painkillers.

On the eve of the game on June 13, 1993 with the club “Real Burgos” to Diego came up to the club leaders and said they wanted to fire Bilardo and appoint Maradona in his place as a playing coach, but Diego refused them: “No! Are you crazy. Bilardo brought me to the team, I”m here because of him. I can be anything but a traitor, señores.” He also told Bilardo about this conversation. At halftime of the match against Burgos, Diego, who was playing injured, asked to be replaced, but Bilardo insisted on continuing to play – the team doctor gave him 3 anti-inflammatory shots. In the 53rd minute Bilardo replaced Maradona, which caused the anger of the Argentine, who publicly insulted the coach, and then caused a riot in the team”s locker room. The next day Bilardo came to Maradona, who was crying for the second day in a row, and said that Diego should not have done that, after which a scandal broke out, which ended with Bilardo pushing Maradona, who responded by knocking him down with one punch. A few days later Diego came to Bilardo and the coach apologized. Despite this, the Sevilla management decided to remove Maradona from the team. In Diego”s opinion, Bilardo took part in this. The match against Burgos was the last for Maradona in the white and red Sevilla shirt. In total he played 29 matches for Andalusians and scored 7 goals. Maradona”s team finished the championship in 7th place.

“Newell”s Old Boys.

In 1993 Maradona returned to Argentine soccer, signing a contract with the club Newells Old Boys on September 9. Initially he wanted to return to Argentinos Juniors, but after threats from fans of the club with a demand to pay 50 thousand dollars Diego preferred to move to a quieter Rosario. September 13, 1993 Maradona`s first training session took place in “Red and Black”; it was attended by more than 40 thousand people. October 10 he made his debut for the club in a match against Independiente, in which his club lost 1:3; Diego scored the only goal of his team, hitting the gate with a heel strike. On December 2, 1993 in a match with “Uracan” Maradona suffered a small tear of the muscle in his left leg, for which he was released from training for 2 weeks. During Diego”s absence coach “Newells” Jorge Raul Solari, who invited Maradona, was fired. His place was taken by Jorge Castellí, whose relationship with Diego did not work out. The reason for this was the player”s agreements with Solari, to which Castelli did not agree. Maradona”s last match for the club was the game against Vasco da Gama on January 26, 1994. On February 1 the player”s contract with the club was terminated. In total for the “Lepers” Diego spent 5 official matches.

On February 2, 1994, Maradona attacked journalists and photojournalists who were reporting outside his home in Moreno with an air rifle. For this he was sentenced to 2 years of probation, and was forced to pay moral and physical damages to the injured journalists.

World Championships 1994

After his return to soccer Maradona played only 2 matches for Argentina. Head coach Alfio Basile did not trust Diego, who did not spend a single match in qualifying for the 1994 World Cup, playing only in friendly matches. Without him, the Argentine team performed poorly. After losing 0:5 to Colombia, Basil, September 23, 1993, officially asked Maradona to return to the national team, which was preparing for the decisive matches of the qualifying stage with Australia. With the help of Maradona, who provided the goal in the first game, Argentina won 2-1 overall and qualified for the final tournament. Eighteen years after those two meetings, Diego said that at the behest of Argentine Soccer Association president Julio Grondona, the players of the national team were given special doping coffee the night before the second game, after which they “ran a lot more”; moreover, Grondona was able to ensure that a doping test was not conducted after the meeting.

At the preparatory matches Maradona again got into trouble: Japan, where the team flew to for a friendly game, denied Diego a visa because of his drug problems. On April 20, in a friendly match against Morocco, Maradona scored for the national team for the first time since May 21, 1990.

The first game of Argentina”s World Cup finals was against Greece on June 21. The Argentines won it 4-0, and Maradona, playing “in the wall” with Fernando Redondo, scored his last goal in the world championships. After the game, he said: “I dedicate this match to the naysayers who said I was no longer capable of anything. I would like to hear what they are saying today.” Argentina won the second game again, beating Nigeria 2-1, with Maradona”s pass scoring the deciding goal. After the game, Diego was tested for doping. Before the last game in the group against Bulgaria, Maradona was reported that he tested positive for five substances: ephedrine, norephedrine, pseudoephedrine, norpseudoephedrine and methylephedrine. Maradona”s disqualification was 15 months.

Without Diego, Argentina lost its two remaining matches. After the game against Bulgaria, Redondo told Maradona: “I looked for you, I looked for you on the field and I couldn”t find you… I looked for you the whole match. Regarding the doping, Diego said that the substances were in his flu medicine and nasal drops bought for him in the USA by his personal doctor, Daniel Serrini, and that he did not take the banned drugs himself. After the disqualification Diego uttered his famous phrase: “My legs were cut off. The match against Nigeria in Boston was Maradona”s last match for Argentina. A total of 91 matches in the national team shirt he played and scored 34 goals.

Performances (1994-1997)

Maradona was disqualified for 15 months, until September 15, 1995. The disqualification applied only to Diego”s soccer performances, and so he began to look for a club where he could show his administrative skills. On October 3, 1994 Maradona was appointed, along with Carlos Fren, head coach of the club Mandiyu. In his debut match under Diego, Mandiyu lost to the club Rosario Central by a score of 1:2, with Diego himself directing the club from the box of honors due to the fact that he did not have a coaching license at the time. Two months after starting, Osvaldo Cruz, one of the club”s owners, came into the locker room and insulted the players. Maradona chased him away, saying that only coaches could be in the locker room. Cruz asked him: “Who are you?” After that, Diego beat up Cruz and tendered his resignation on Dec. 6. During Maradona”s tenure the club played 12 games of which it won one, drew six and lost five. The best result of the club in that period was a draw with River Plate. Immediately after his dismissal from Mandia, Maradona replaced his representative Marcos Franchi with Guillermo Coppola, with whom he had already worked a few years before. On January 6, 1995, Maradona with Fran was hired by the club Racing of Avellaneda. In this club Diego worked for 4 months, under him “Racinha” held 11 matches, of which he won two, six tied and three lost.

After an unsuccessful coaching debut, Maradona expressed his desire to start working as a playing coach of the club Boca Juniors. But against this there were two circumstances: the first – the head coach of the club was Silvio Marsolini, whom the club management did not want to fire, the second – the “Genoese” could not give Maradona the salary to which he was used to during his performances. Both of these circumstances Diego resolved himself: he refused to try to move to the team coach, and also agreed that his salary will be paid by several businessmen-fans of Boca, led by Eduardo Eurnekian. The contract with Boca Maradona preferred the contract with the Brazilian Santos, where he was called by Pele, who offered Diego the position of playing coach. Also, the club management went along with Diego and, at his request, bought Claudio Canijo. After signing the contract Maradona began to work hard to gain form. At the same time, he starred in a small role in El día que Maradona conoció a Gardel. Also on September 18, 1995, Maradona organized in Paris the “International Association of Professional Footballers”, which included Eric Cantona, George Vea, Gianluca Vialli, Gianfranco Zola, Laurent Blanc, Thomas Brolin, Rai, Ciro Ferrara and Michel Prudhomme.

Maradona”s official return to soccer came on September 30 in Seoul, where Boca Juniors faced South Korea and won 2-1. That same week, Maradona held a conference at Oxford University, telling students about his life and the newly formed Professional Footballers Association. On October 15, 1995, Maradona scored his first goal since his suspension, bringing the Genoese to a 1-0 victory over his former team, Argentinos Juniors. The first Apertura after Maradona”s return, Boca performed poorly: the club took only 4th place, and Diego himself scored only 3 goals in 11 games. At the same time he missed some matches due to injury, and in Diego”s absence the club scored only 1 point out of 12 possible. It was not until Maradona”s return to action that Boquita began to win. As a result of the unsuccessful performance, the club changed both president and coach. Despite this, Maradona expressed his desire to return to the Argentine national team, for which he had previously refused to play, because “the people are asking for it.” He was also supported by the president of Argentina, Carlos Menem. In 1996, the team management decided to appoint Carlos Bilardo, Maradona”s former mentor in the national team, as head coach. Initially Maradona threatened to leave the club if Bilardo led it, but then supported the mentor. That same season a new president, Mauricio Macri, came to the club, with whom Diego had several run-ins, including a public bickering on the radio. Boca Juniors finished 5th in the Apertura and 4th in the overall table. Maradona himself has not shown a high level of play this season: he played 13 games and scored 2 goals, and in the game against Racinha he did not score a penalty, which was his 5th consecutive unrealized 11-meter penalty. He said: “I”m destroyed… I want to die.” After that Diego played one more match, August 11 against Estudiantes, and then refused to play for the club himself. He did not appear on the field for 11 months. In August, having already finished playing, Maradona was acquitted by a court after accusations that he switched his urine jar with that of Alberto Vargas, who was found to be doping.

In the summer of 1996, Guillermo Coppola said that the player signed a contract worth 20 million dollars with a Japanese club, but the deal did not take place due to the country”s laws prohibiting entry into it for anyone caught in possession, use or transportation of drugs.

That same year, Maradona was an active participant in the “Sunshine without Drugs” campaign organized by the Argentine government: “I did it for the children. Drugs exist everywhere, and I don”t want them to take over children. In August 1996, Maradona went to Switzerland, to the Bellelelé clinic, where he wanted to be treated for cocaine addiction: “I want to get completely clean of this evil. I have to do it for the sake of my daughters. A friend of mine recommended a hospital in Switzerland. Treatment in Argentina is more expensive: doctors only demand money and do not bring any good. After that, Maradona returned to his homeland, on the way to which he took part in an exhibition game in Canada.

In the fall of 1996, Maradona created a foundation to financially support Boca Juniors. In October, 500 grams of cocaine were found in Maradona”s house. In December, Maradona expressed his desire to replace Carlos Bilardo as coach of the Genoese. Also on December 29, he participated in a charity game, all the proceeds of which went to the paralyzed player Pablo Forlan. In January 1997 Diego held talks with the club Barcelona (Guayaquil), where he was going to perform the role of playing coach. In the same month he said he would probably play for Uruguayan Peñarol. However, the club from Montevideo rejected the idea of inviting the Argentine.

In February 1997 Diego opened the Maradona Sports Cafes chain of catering restaurants. On April 7, 1997 Diego was admitted to the hospital because of very high blood pressure, which rose during his participation in the Chilean TV program “Viva el Lunes” (Live on Monday) on Canal 13.

April 22, 1997 Maradona signed a new contract with Boca Juniors, despite the fact that a few months earlier he had refused to renew it. In order to gain form, Diego hired a coach famous track and field athlete Ben Johnson, who paid 1000 dollars a day. July 9, Maradona for the first time after a long break entered the field in a friendly match with the club “Newells Old Boys” and scored a goal from a free kick. On July 13, Diego appeared for the first time after a long break in an official game, in which Boca defeated Rising 3-2, and Diego was involved in all three goals of his team. This match started 20 minutes late because of photo reporters who did not want to leave the field to take photos of Diego. In July, a strike of professional footballers in Argentina began, which Diego not only did not support, but also called “idiotic”, apologizing on behalf of all the players of the national championship. That same season Maradona insisted that Boca buy Martin Palermo, who later became the best scorer in the team”s history.

On August 24, he played in a match in which Boquita defeated Argentinos Juniors 4-2, and Diego scored his 150th goal in the Argentine championships on a penalty kick. After the game, Maradona tested positive for methylhexagonine and benzoylecgonine, metabolites of cocaine. He was disqualified until he was tested again, which, later, also tested positive. In June, Diego went to the police, claiming that he had not taken anything himself and that he had been poisoned on purpose. Moreover, a month before the match in which the doping was found, Maradona began to receive calls threatening to “plant” drugs on him. Diego later swore to his daughters that he did not take drugs. The judge, Claudio Bonadio, confirmed that such threats against Maradona took place and decided not to impose sanctions on Diego who tested positive. He also ordered Maradona to take a doping test after every match.

In the first game after the revocation of his suspension, Maradona scored a goal, hitting the goal of the Newells Old Boys from the penalty spot. In the fall of 1997, on his birthday, Maradona announced that he was leaving soccer for good. The study of Diego”s DNA was not completed because of the small amount of genetic material that the AFA sent to the Primer Centro Argentino de Inmunogenética (First Argentine Center of Immunogenetics). Because of the impossibility of verification, and because this was not the first time Diego had been found to have a drug, Bonadio sanctioned Maradona accordingly, even though, at the time of the decision, Maradona had ended his professional career.

Despite being cleared to play, Maradona was unable to play for a month due to an injury he sustained in the Libertadores Super Cup game against Colo Colo. Diego was back on the field on October 25, 1997 in a game in which Boca defeated its principle rival, River Plate, 2-1. In that game Maradona was replaced after halftime by Juan Riquelme, suffering a recurrence of the injury. The match was Maradona”s last at the professional level. On October 30, on his 37th birthday, Maradona announced the end of his career.

Maradona had an excellent technique, used various non-football techniques: tosses, throws, rolls of the ball, which he did at very high speed, so he outmaneuvered many opponents. Also Diego had a very accurate passing and an excellent left footed shot from the game and from free kicks, which he trained since childhood. At the same time Diego could shoot from any position and score goals of any taste.

Maradona had a very good vision of the field, thanks to which he could make goal passes to the forwards in the club and the national team. He stood out for his focus on fighting: even if he lost the ball he would “guard” the opponent until the ball returned to his team.

Diego was also extremely stable on the field and well-developed leg muscles, which allowed him to stay in a standing position after kicks to the legs. Diego was also distinguished by his coordinated body.

Maradona”s technique was the prototype for the dribbling of Ronaldinho, who was “crazy about everything he did. In the alternative opinion of former River Plate and Argentina player Felix Lowestau, who played in the mid-20th century, Maradona was “just a good player,” and in his years there were “about a hundred Maradons.

According to Arrigo Sacchi, thanks to Diego, all the teams in which he played, began to play soccer at a much higher level.

In February 1998 Maradona participated in an exhibition match of the club “Careca”, created by his former partner in Napoli. In March 1998, having already finished his soccer career, Maradona received an offer to sign a contract with the club Newells Old Boys, coached by his friend Sergio Batista. However, Diego declined because of financial problems with his illegitimate son. Paraguay”s Olimpia also hoped to get Maradona into their squad.

After finally ending his career as a player, Maradona took up other activities, working as a sports commentator, in particular commentating on the 1998 World Cup matches for Tele America, vice president of the Boca Juniors Commission and an expert in sports programs. This phase of his life was marred by health problems related to drug use. At the same time Diego sought a cure for drug addiction, visiting clinics in Argentina and Cuba.

In the summer of 1998 Maradona negotiated with English club Crystal Palace, claiming to be the coach of the team. In the same year he held talks with the Spanish club Badajoz.

In February 1999, Maradona promised Diego Latorre that he would beat him up after the player made an obscene gesture to the fans of Boca Juniors, for which he played. In December 1999, Maradona became an advisor to the Libyan national team, refusing to lead the team alone. In September 2000, Maradona published a book, Yo soy el Diego (I am Diego), in which he reviewed his entire biography and career and confessed the origins of his drug addiction.

In January 2000, Maradona was admitted to the Cantégril sanitarium while in the Uruguayan city of Punta del Este, where he was partying in the company of a drug dealer. He was admitted to the hospital with hypertension and cardiac arrhythmia. His spokesman, Guillermo Coppola, stated that it was not drug-related, but due to nervous tension. However, traces of cocaine were found in his blood and urine, for which Diego faced Uruguayan justice. Since no drugs were found on him personally, no charges were filed. After his release from the clinic on January 18, Diego went to Cuba, settling in a closed clinic at El Quinca, 700 kilometers from Havana, where he underwent treatment and rehabilitation.

On November 10, 2001 Maradona, for the first time after a long break took to the field participating in the match between Argentina and the world team, which included Enzo Francescoli, Eric Cantona, Davor Schucker, Juan Roman Riquelme, Carlos Valderrama, Rene Iguita and other players. This match was farewell for Diego, who spent 1 half for the national team and the second half for the world team. The game ended in favor of Argentina 6:3, and Maradona scored two goals. After the game, he uttered one of his most famous lines: “I made a mistake and I paid for it. But you can”t get the ball dirty!” In Diego”s honor, number 10 was permanently removed from the national team”s number rotation. FIFA later reversed that decision. In the same year he signed a contract to participate in an exhibition game of veterans and artists in Moscow, but he violated the terms of the contract and did not come to the game.

In 2002 Diego again commented on the World Cup matches for the Mexican channel Televisia and the transnational Direct TV. The Japanese authorities even lifted the ban on Diego”s entry. In the summer of 2002, Diego released a CD, the main hit of which was called “The Hand of God”, all the proceeds of which went to the hospital for underprivileged children Pedro Elisalde.

In April 2004 Maradona was hospitalized again with the diagnosis of a heart attack. His heart problems were exacerbated by his weight gain and drug addiction, so after being discharged from hospital, he was admitted to a clinic on May 9, where he underwent detoxification. After being cured, Diego said: “I remember in one movie – ”Heaven Can Wait” – a man dies, finds himself in some tunnel, but there begins to protest, believing that his death hour has not yet come. I was in such a tunnel, too. And I saw the fans of River Plate, San Lorenzo, Racinha, Uracan, Independiente…”. Three months later, Maradona asked the court to allow him to move to Cuba. It was because Diego could not leave the hospital without the consent of his family, who had custody over him, according to the court. In addition, Helena Bortiri, the lawyer of the family of Maradona, used article 152 of the Civil Code of Argentina, and partially deprived Diego of legal capacity because of his drug addiction; according to this article, the family had to become the guardian of the patient with drug addiction and take care of the person. Diego was forced to appeal to the president of the country, Nestor Kirchner, to help him fly to Cuba. As his request was not fulfilled, Maradona continued his treatment in his home country. In December 2004, Maradona, who was late for his flight, together with his friends, organized a pogrom in the VIP lounge of the Rio de Janeiro airport.

Because of the long stay in the hospital Maradona gained a lot of weight: by February 2005, he weighed about 120 kg. In March of the same year in the clinic of Cartagena he was put a staple, reducing the capacity of the stomach and eliminating from the process of digestion part of the small intestine. Thanks to the operation and a strict diet Maradona lost more than 50 kg in a few months.

In the summer of 2005 Maradona was invited to host the talk show “Night of Ten” on Channel 13. Diego hosted the first broadcast on August 15. On this program Maradona invited Pele. The program also featured several interviews, including Cuban leader Fidel Castro and world chess champion Anatoly Karpov, who played “live chess” with Diego. On November 7, the last program was held; boxer Mike Tyson was a contestant. The program won the 2005 Clarín Espectáculos as “Best Entertainment Program”; Diego received the prize as “Person of the Year”. Maradona also participated in a dance program for the Italian channel RAI, which he gave up because of long-standing problems with Italian legislation and the need to fly to Italy twice a week.

From June 22, 2005 to August 26, 2006, Maradona served as vice president of the Boca Juniors club board. One of his actions was lobbying for Alfio Basile to become the team”s head coach. Maradona also played in Boca”s veteran team and Soccer Aid charity matches, which was a tournament on a variation of Showbol mini-football. In the summer of 2006, Maradona again worked as a TV commentator, as he had four years before, commentating on World Cup matches, working for Telefe channel.

On March 17, 2007, many Argentine media reported the death of Maradona, allegedly killed in a car accident, but the information was not confirmed.

On March 28, 2007, Maradona was admitted to the Güemez Clinic, due to excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages. He was diagnosed as severely intoxicated. He stayed in the clinic until April 11. According to another version, Diego was being treated for hepatitis caused by alcohol consumption. Two days after his discharge, Diego had a relapse and was admitted to the Mother Teresa de Calcuta Hospital in the province of Eceisa with very low blood pressure. He was later transferred to the Sanatorio de los Arcos in Buenos Aires, where he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. There Diego remained until April 21, when he decided to go to the Avril Psychiatric Clinic. After two weeks in the clinic, he left the hospital on May 6. At the same time, while Diego was in Avril, rumors of his death began to spread.

In September 2008 Maradona was offered the post of representative of Inter Milan in South America, but it did not come to a real contract.

His desire to lead the national team of Argentina Maradona expressed back in 1998. In 2002 he reiterated his request, while agreeing to work for free, but again he was refused.

On October 17, 2008, after Alfio Basile resigned, Maradona reiterated his desire to lead the Argentine national team. On October 28 he met with Julio Grondona, president of the Argentine soccer association, where he was offered to lead the national team. November 4, Maradona officially became coach of the national team. His assistants were Carlos Bilardo, who officially served as technical director, Pedro Trollo, Sergio Batista and Alejandro Mancuso, engaged directly in team training, as well as Fernando Signorini, engaged in physical preparation team at the World Championships in 1986 and 1990. Tactics for the matches were developed by Maradona himself and Hector Enrique, Diego”s partner in the national team in 1986. Maradona”s first decision as coach of the national team was to appoint Javier Mascherano as captain.

The son of Alfio Basile, Alfito, said that Diego conspired against his father to remove him as coach of the national team. According to him, Maradona met with the players of the Argentine national team, promising them a place in the national team if he was appointed: “These meetings took place before almost every national team match. This senor would meet with the national team players and tell them that he would be their next coach. So he is a conspirator.” Maradona denied all the accusations: “Everything Alfito said is far from reality. It”s not my style. My approval and my criticism of the national team has always been public. And I always wanted the national team to play well. I know Alfito, we”ve crossed paths a couple of times, and I can understand him saying all those things because he was very upset about his father losing his spot. A place that, for all of us who love soccer in Argentina, is very important. But in no way can I accept what he”s talking about. He has disappointed me, saddened me. And it hurts, it really hurts for me.” The national team captain, Javier Mascherano, said he did not see a conspiracy against Basile.

The first match under Diego, Argentina played November 19 against Scotland, winning it 1-0. February 12, 2009 Argentina played against France, the vice-champion of the world, and won 2-0. March 28, Albiceleste played its first official match under Maradona, in which the Argentines defeated Venezuela 4-0. On April 1, Argentina unexpectedly lost 1-6 to Bolivia; after the game Diego said: “Every Bolivian goal is a pain in my heart. Before the game, I never would have thought that such a defeat was possible. In several subsequent games, the team did not look very good, Diego attributed this to a lack of motivation. After these games, Maradona decided to change the composition of the national team.

June 26, 2009 Diego signed a contract with the national team until 2011, before that he worked for free, under which he receives 139,000 euros per month (according to other sources $ 110,000 per month). On September 6, Argentina lost to Brazil by a score of 1:3. On October 15, after defeating Uruguay, Argentina advanced to the World Cup finals. After the game, Diego said:

I remember well that there were those who did not believe in our team. There were many who didn”t believe in us. I apologize to the ladies present, but these detractors sucked and will continue to suck. Black or white, I will never be gray in my life. Suck it – that”s me addressing them the way they addressed me.

The FIFA committee conducted an investigation into this statement, after which Diego was disqualified for two months and fined 25 thousand Swiss francs. Because of his words Diego missed the draw ceremony of the final stage of the World Cup, as the disqualification applied to official FIFA events.

In May 2010, Maradona criticized the Argentine soccer association and its president, Julio Grondona, for canceling a friendly with the UAE. To this accusation, Grondona”s son, Humberto, said that for his father he was “ready to trample on anyone.

Conflict with Riquelme

For the match against Bolivia, which the Argentines lost by a score of 1-6, Diego called Juan Roman Riquelme to the national team, but the latter, in an interview with Canal 13, announced that he was leaving the national team because of personal differences with Maradona and different views on soccer; Diego said he did not understand Riquelme”s actions and that he had no conflict with the player. A few months later, a campaign was underway to bring Riquelme back to the national team, but Diego announced that he would not have him on the roster, despite having previously stated his willingness to return Juan Román to the national team if he apologized to him. Riquelme reiterated that the national team has no future with Maradona at the helm.

It is not true that I made statements that were insulting to Maradona. I”m not so stupid as to miss the World Cup because of some statements. The question is a completely different one. I reiterate that I will never work with Maradona because I will never be able to give up my own identity.

There is a version that the reason for the conflict was the negative attitude of the national team team to Juan Roman. And Maradona sided with the other players of the national team in this dispute.

World Championships 2010

On May 12, 2010 Maradona named the preliminary roster of the team that will participate in the World Cup. The players who were regularly called up to the Albiceleste squad by the previous national team coaches, Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Sanetti, were not included in the team list, saying that they were “an old story for the national team, and the team needs a new one”. Diego said he was very objective when compiling the list of players who went to the Mundial. On May 19, Maradona announced the final list of players who will participate in the World Cup. The reason for not calling these players out was that they were disrupting the camaraderie of the national team, having a great influence on the team.

Maradona”s former teammate, Osvaldo Ardiles, criticized Diego for not including Cambiasso, Sanetti and Riquelme in the tournament and for going to the tournament without a nominal right-back. He said that Maradona and his assistant in the national team, Carlos Bilardo, are in a state of conflict, seeking to get rid of each other. Ardiles also expressed the opinion that Maradona is guided solely by his inner voice when deciding on the roster and tactics for the game.

Before the tournament began, Maradona said he believed in this team more than the one that won the World Cup in 1986 and expressed confidence that the players, like Diego himself, “are ready to die on the field for the shirt of the Argentine team. Maradona also promised, if the national team wins, to run naked around the Obelisk in Buenos Aires. During the tournament, Maradona allowed the players of the national team to have sex and drink a glass of wine a day.

In the first leg of the World Cup finals, Argentina was placed in Group B, along with Nigeria, South Korea, and Greece. In the first game, against Nigeria, Argentina won 1-0, showing good play in attack and problems in defense. After the game, Diego said: “I wish I had a crystal ball and then I could be a wizard, but I”m not a wizard, I”m just a coach. There”s a lot to improve in our game to play seven games. Of course, winning the first match at the World Cup calms you down, and you calmly continue to prepare for the next match. There is no place for fear in soccer. If you are afraid of something, stay at home. In the second game of the tournament Argentina defeated South Korea 4-1; forward Gonzalo Iguayín scored three goals in the game, becoming the third player in the history of the national team to score a hat trick at World Cups. In the third game, Argentina defeated Greece 2-0 to advance to the final 18 of the tournament from first place.

In the final 18, Argentina defeated Mexico 3-1, with the Argentines scoring the first goal of the match from the obvious. Diego himself said that his team won deservedly. One of the innovations in this match in the game of the Argentines was the inclusion in the starting lineup Nicolas Otamendi, who replaced the right-back Jonas Gutierrez, who had previously played in all previous matches of the national team at the tournament and acted poorly, due to weak play in defensive actions. After the match, Clarin reported that several players on the national team were unhappy that they were being given little playing time, but Maradona responded that the relationship in the national team was still great. On June 30, Maradona said: “I feel like I put on the national team jersey myself and go out on the field. It”s wonderful to coach such a group of players. I”m proud to share these moments with them. People said about me that I have no idea how to coach. Suddenly it turns out that I”m winning matches and still being the same.”

On the eve of the 14th final, in which Argentina faced Germany, Diego promised: “One minute before the quarterfinal match starts, I will tell the players that they must leave their lives on the field. That behind them is a whole country that deserves happy moments. That it depends on them whether all of Argentina wakes up the next morning with a smile on their lips – or whether they will be crying. People in our country are addicted to soccer. Our victories can help these people to overcome the hardest moments in life,” also Maradona said that he has no doubts about the outcome of the match of his team against Germany. In the game itself, the Argentines were defeated 0:4 and dropped out of the tournament. This defeat was the biggest for the Argentine team at the world championships in 36 years. After the match, Maradona said: “If I resign tomorrow, I want these players to keep playing in the same style. I”m proud of my players. Whoever comes to this position will have to follow my path. I noticed that people like this kind of soccer, this team is always looking to play and be ahead of the competition. As for a possible departure, I have to think about it. I need to talk to my family, players, federation about it. There are many nuances. The result of the match against Germany does not reflect what was happening on the field. Germans used their chances, while we did not. We gave the ball to the Germans and they made good use of their chances. We played well, but we lacked freshness. Maradona also said he was not going to review the match against Germany, seeking to evaluate the national team”s performance based on the results of the entire tournament, not one single game.

After the departure of the national team from the tournament Maradona said: “I”m disappointed. It”s hard to go back home after something like that. We have to discuss everything with the guys. The opponent scored and we couldn”t, although we had chances. We couldn”t afford to lose with such a big score. I survived our semi-final exit in 1982, but I was young then. Now I”m almost 50 years old, and it”s the hardest time of my life. It”s like a punch in the face. I don”t have the energy to do anything else.” Despite this statement, Julio Grondona asked Maradona to stay on as head coach of the national team until August 11. Upon the team”s arrival in Buenos Aires, the fans who greeted them rewarded the players with applause and Diego with requests to stay with the national team. On July 5, Diego said: “Yes, my time with this national team is over. I gave it everything I could.” On July 26, Maradona said he would only stay with the national team if his entire coaching staff also kept their posts. July 27, Maradona resigned as head coach of the national team. The reason for this was the refusal of the leadership of the Football Federation of Argentina in Diego”s assistants to retain their positions, in particular, the president of the federation, Julio Grondona demanded to fire Alejandro Mancuso, while Argentina”s soccer authorities wanted to keep Maradona as head coach of the national team, offering him a contract for 4 years. Grondona said that he and Diego “could not come to a common denominator.

After leaving the national team Diego said:

Grondona deceived me and Bilardo betrayed me. In South Africa we had a meeting with Grondona, several players and other people. Grondona told me then that he was satisfied with my work and wanted me to stay in my position. Then he met with me in Argentina and told me that seven people on my staff should leave their posts. But that was tantamount to him asking me to leave myself. They wanted to fire my men, but I did not even discuss it. I have my own code of honor, which my father taught me. I”m not going to betray.

To these accusations, Grondona replied that Maradona misinterpreted his words.

Diego also regularly participated in charity events. On September, 29, 2010 he visited Moscow where he presented Hublot watches; there he also took part in a contest, all prize money from which, 500 thousand dollars, was spent for creation of the first Russian register of bone marrow donors to help children suffering from oncological diseases, created by Institute of Pediatric Hematology and Transplantology named after Raisa Gorbachova: “I accepted the invitation with pleasure. I really wanted to win more money because I understand how much sick children need it. I am a grandfather myself, and I understand that children are our future, I really wanted to help them, I hope I managed something” charity match between the Uruguayan and Argentine veterans” teams, all the proceeds of which went to the treatment of former Argentine player Fernando Caceres, who was seriously injured in an armed bandit attack.

In December 2010 Maradona became a candidate for the head coach of the club Blackburn Rovers; however, both teams Diego never accepted. To continue his coaching career, in February 2011 Maradona signed a contract with the agency company Jorge Mendes, dealing with famous figures from the soccer world. In April 2011 Maradona became a candidate for the head coach of the San Lorenzo club.

In May Diego reached an agreement to work with the Emirati club Al Wasl. On 17 May Maradona signed a contract with this team for two years with a salary of 3.5 million euros per season. On August 29, he made his debut as the club”s head coach in a friendly match against Al Ittihad, which his team won 3-1. On September 22, before the match against Emirates, Diego kicked a fan who was trying to raise a banner prepared by his granddaughter. The Argentine later apologized for his behavior. On Oct. 8, Al Wasl lost 0-5 to Club Dubai in the UAE Cup. The same month the coach was accused by the club president of failing to conduct transfer business; Maradona, in turn, said he had asked to strengthen the squad with new players, which was not done. He also said of his club: “Al Wasl lacks professionalism. Some players are students, others are in the police force. There are also players who are members of the military. As a result, many players come to practice tired and cannot work properly. In addition, not everyone can show up to practice. Sometimes I have 16 and sometimes 24 players at my disposal.” December 13, Maradona was fined $2,700 and suspended for 3 games for a conflict after a match with the head coach of rival Al Wasla, Al Ain club; Diego was unhappy with the way Kosmin Olaru, head coach of the rival team celebrated the victory over his club. Al Wasla Stadium was also disqualified for 2 games, after which Diego accused the UAE Football Federation of bias against his team.

In September 2011, Maradona said that former national team player Carlos McAllister had offered bribes to Diego to take players to the national team. Maradona also said that Carlos had agreed with Batista and Jose Luis Brown that if they took over the national team, they would take the players McCallister recommended for money. Brown responded to this accusation by saying: “My love for Maradona has turned into compassion. Diego is the best soccer player in the world, but you can”t turn a blind eye to that. Let him show proof. If it is really true, I will leave the country.” Batista promised to sue Maradona.

On January 14, 2012 Maradona was hospitalized with kidney stone disease. The next day he was operated.

In February 2012, Diego said he was persona non grata in his native Argentina for not supporting top sports officials in the country; he also said he would someday lead Boca Juniors. That same month, he said that if Al Wasl did not provide the money to buy new players, he would resign as team coach. In March, Diego argued with fans from the VIP stand of Al Wasl”s rival, Al Shebaba, who insulted Maradona”s girlfriend, Veronica Ojeda.

In April 2012, Diego had a conflict with the club”s management due to the fact that the players he had been promised were not purchased. On July 11, 2012 Al Wasl management dismissed the Argentine as head coach. As reported on the team”s official microblogging page on Twitter, this decision was made on Tuesday, July 10, at a meeting of the club”s board. The reason for Maradona”s dismissal was the fact that Al Wasl not only failed to win any awards during the season, but also dropped from sixth to eighth place in the national championship, with 12 teams playing in it.

In July 2013, Maradona underwent surgery to correct age-related presbyopia.

On May 8, 2017, Maradona took over as head coach of the club Al Fujairah. On April 27, 2018, Maradona resigned as head coach of the Arab club after the team failed to make it to the first division of the UAE. The parties terminated the contract by mutual consent before the end of the championship. The team would not be able to rise above third place. However, on April 30, it was reported that the parties did agree to extend the contract for a year. In the end, the club management refused to cooperate with the Argentine specialist after his lawyer requested a four-fold increase in salary. May 15, Maradona became chairman of the board of Brest “Dynamo”. The contract with the club was for three years. The Argentine was to deal with issues of strategic development of the club, as well as cooperate with all its departments, including the children”s academy Maradona did not come to Belarus. Club midfielder Sergei Kislyak said about it: “He visited, watched the match, the next day he came to the locker room and said: “I”m the president of the club and I”ll decide everything here.” That was it. He left and was never seen here again.

On September 6 he took over the Mexican club Dorados de Sinaloa. Also, the Argentine became the technical director of the club. This became known in a tweet of the club, playing in the second division of the championship of Mexico. The contract is for 11 months. During this time, Diego will earn $1.98 million. The contract has an automatic extension clause if the club can reach the top division. In the first match under Diego, Dorados defeated Cafetaleros de Chiapas 4-1. On December 3, the club lost in a decisive playoff game to Atlético San Luis for the MH League. After the match, the opposing fans began to sing songs insulting Maradona. Diego insulted them back and tried to hit one of them. When preseason training time came, Diego did not show up for the team. In January, he was hospitalized with a bleeding stomach. On January 13, he underwent surgery. The next season, Dorados reached the playoff finals, where he again faced Atletico San Luis, and again the club lost. On June 14, Maradona stepped down as head coach of Dorados.

On September 6, 2019, Maradona became the head coach of the club Himnasia y Esgrima of La Plata, then in last place in the championship. Already two days after Diego”s appointment, the number of officially registered fans of the club increased by 3 thousand people. In the first match under Maradona, Gimnasia lost to Racinha de Avellaneda with a score of 1:2. After that, the club lost twice more before winning its first victory, defeating Godoy Cruz 4-2. On November 19, Maradona resigned, but the decision was reversed two days later. At the end of the season Gimancia should have been relegated from the top division of the championship of Argentina, but the season was prematurely ended because of the COVID-19 epidemic, and the management of the Football Association of Argentina decided to abolish the possibility of relegation for two seasons. On June 3, Diego extended his contract with the club until December 2021. During the same period, according to the coach himself, he was offered to lead the Venezuelan national team, but he refused.

On November 3, 2020, Maradona was hospitalized at the Clinica Ipensa in La Plata. The footballer”s personal physician stated that he was hospitalized to restore his body”s water balance. He later stated that Diego had undergone surgery after suffering a brain hemorrhage. On November 11, Diego was released from the hospital.

On November 25, 2020, Maradona died due to sudden. An autopsy attributed the soccer player”s death to acute pulmonary edema, which was caused by chronic heart failure. In addition, he was found to have a cardiac pathology – dilated cardiomyopathy.According to TN television, Maradona also had other conditions: cirrhosis of the liver, kidney disease and myocardiofibrosis. A three-day national mourning period was declared for his death. The management of the La Plata club Himnasia y Esgrima, which was the last in Diego”s coaching career, expressed their sincere condolences to his family and friends in their official statement.

The farewell ceremony for the soccer player took place on November 26, 2020, at the Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires. There was a line of seven blocks on the way to the casket. According to TNT Sports, Maradona had signed documents stipulating that after his death he would be embalmed and displayed for fans to see; Maradona”s family learned of this after his death and refused to comply with the measures specified in the documents.He was buried in the cemetery of Hardin de Bellas Vista in the municipality of San Miguel, next to his parents” grave, in front of 25 immediate family members.

In May 2021, the medics responsible for the life and health of Diego Maradona were charged with the “possibly premeditated” murder of the footballer, they were banned from leaving Argentina and summoned for questioning.

Maradona was married. His wife (ex) was Claudia Villafaña, two years older than him, with whom he lived for twenty-five years. They lived in the same house since October 1976, but for a long time Maradona was shy to approach the girl. Only June 28, 1977 Diego invited her to a dance in the park Social y Deportivo in La Paternal. After meeting her, Diego and Claudia danced disco all night, and the next day Diego introduced her to his parents. Despite their long relationship, Diego was in no hurry to marry her, which, however, did not hinder them at all. When Diego has already become a famous footballer and often travels with clubs and the national team around the world, Claudia was always waiting for him at home, and Maradona himself on arrival in a new city to call her from the airport. Claudia was the first person to advise Maradona to become a professional soccer player.

Despite his relationship with Claudia, Maradona had several affairs, including meetings with the Argentine film diva Adriana Brodsky, who was married to the Argentine ambassador to Panama, and famous Italian film actresses Loredana Berthe and Heather Parisi. He was also attributed numerous adulteries in Italy, in particular with Miss Fantastic Breasts contest winners, Mimi, “Madame Butterfly” from Tokyo, with the Brazilian ballerina Susi, who claimed that Diego was “a very gentle lover and he knows no sense of shame,” as well as with several Italian women. However, his wife always forgave Diego.

– Did you ever cheat on Claudia? Never. But if I did, I wouldn”t admit it for the world.

In 1987, Neapolitan Christiana Sinagra told the press that she had given birth to Maradona”s son. This was followed by a media furore, and Maradona himself made no comment on the matter. Paternity was never proven because the Argentinean did not appear in court and refused to take a DNA test. This “son,” Diego Sinagra, became a professional soccer player and played for the Italian national beach soccer team. It wasn”t until 2016 that Diego acknowledged Sinagra as his child and said he loved him. After this story, Maradona began to appear less frequently in society, he visited only closed restaurants and cafes, where he was only with close friends. Another of the episodes that led to this caution was a stone thrown at him from the crowd. According to Jorge Valdano, “Maradona”s life is his personal drama. All mankind envied him, and he envied all mankind. Everyone wanted to live like Maradona, and he wanted to live like everyone else. He wanted to get up at eight in the morning and take his kids to school. On his way back to the store for groceries, and in the evening to walk down the street with his wife and children, or have dinner at a restaurant.

On April 2, 1988, Maradona and Claudia”s daughter was born, the girl was named Dalma Nerea after Diego”s mother. Despite the fact that the spouses were not officially married, they were engaged and considered each other husband and wife.

A piece of paper in a desk drawer cannot guarantee love. Many years ago Claudia and I told each other that. And our opinion hasn”t changed since then. Some priest once asked me: “How do you date the Pope and not be married to the woman you love?” I replied, “I respect your point of view, but you must respect mine. I don”t feel any less Catholic, any less religious, not being married.

Immediately after that Maradona was offered two million for an advertisement with Dalma, but the footballer refused. In the same year, mother and daughter moved to Naples.

On May 16, 1989, Maradona”s second daughter, named Giannina Dinora by the Italian name, was born.

Maradona married Claudia on November 7, 1989 in Buenos Aires. The marriage ceremony took place at the Luna Park stadium in the presence of fifteen hundred guests. The celebration was spent about two million dollars: “Claudia had waited so long for this, I could not help but please her.

On March 7, 2003, Claudia filed for divorce because Diego had left home in 1998. Despite the divorce, the former spouses remained on good terms. Claudia later became Maradona”s agent.

Since 2005 Maradona had been dating a physical education teacher, Veronica Ojeda (born December 9, 1977 or 1980), who was from Diego”s home district, Villa Fiorito. She met him on February 13, 2005, at the wedding of his cousin”s son. Veronica was pregnant three times with Maradona, but twice she miscarried. Diego was also attributed an affair with the model Silvina Luna.

Maradona”s youngest daughter, Giannina, married soccer player Sergio Agüero in 2008. On February 20, 2009 they had a son, Benjamin; the godfather of the boy was soccer player Lionel Messi. The eldest daughter, Dalma, was engaged to Fernando Molina, who was the spokesman of the Argentine national team.

On November 19, 2011, at the 82nd year of life, Diego”s mother, Dalm Salvador Franco, died in a hospital in Buenos Aires. Maradona spent the last days before her death with her. In memory of the player”s mother, the match between Independiente and Olimpo began with a moment of silence.

In February 2013, Agüero broke up with Diego”s daughter, Giannina, who took the child and left for Argentina. She did not blame anyone: “When a couple breaks up, it”s always both of them. Regarding the young men”s breakup, Maradona said: “Agüero is a wuss! I hate even thinking of that name, let alone saying it out loud. I will never let my daughter go alone to court with this man. Thank God she will never see him again. Because he”s not a man!” Diego hated Sergio Agüero so much that in September 2014, while in the city of Dubrovnik, he attacked a visitor to a local bar who was talking about Agüero.

On February 7, 2013, Maradona and Veronica Ojeda had a son named Diego Fernando. Curiously, at that time, the parents were no longer dating, and the former soccer player acknowledged his son only a month later. A year later, Veronica said she was expecting a second child from Diego, conceived from a casual relationship between her and Maradona at a hotel. The footballer himself declared that the child was not his. In March 2014, Ojeda had a miscarriage.

On February 14, 2014, in Rome, Maradona proposed to the 23-year-old soccer player and model Rocio Oliva. In April 2014, the couple broke up: Diego accused her of stealing watches and jewelry while they were at his home in Dubai. The girl herself denied all accusations. Later they reconciled, and Maradona withdrew the statement about the theft, although the former soccer player began, according to her, often beating the girl. In the same year, he admitted his illegitimate daughter Yana, the result of a brief affair with La Diosa bowling alley waitress Valeria Salabain.

On June 25, 2015, Maradona”s father, Don Diego, who had long had heart and lung problems, died in Buenos Aires.

In July 2015, Maradona accused Villafaña of stealing nine million dollars from his bank accounts, an amount later reduced to six million. Both Diego”s daughters stood up for their mother. He also accused his ex-wife of buying real estate in Miami with his funds. In November 2017, Diego demanded the arrest of Giannina, who he believed was carrying out bank fraud in Uruguay to obstruct the lawsuit. Giannina herself stated that she was not involved in any such thing.

Personal Life in Naples

From Maradona”s first days in the city he became one of his most recognizable faces. Posters with his image hung in many areas of Naples. Diego”s fans waited every day for the idol in places where he might appear. And “skunizzi” (boys from poor neighborhoods in Naples) were willing to follow Maradona everywhere in the hope of getting an autograph, which could be sold at a profit. At the house in Positillipo, where Maradona lived, there was always a crowd of fans waiting for him.

All Maradona”s actions were discussed in the local press – and the first spaghetti eaten by Diego, and the number of staff, which was rumored to reach a hundred people, and even possible connections Maradona with the mafia: Diego at the request of a friend went to the christening of a Neapolitan, and he turned out to be a boss of the Sicilian mafia. His name even appeared in a case about an underground sweepstakes held by a Mafia boss, Giuliano. The next day the newspapers came out with the headline, “Maradona Visiting the Camorra. Later, one of the bosses of the Neapolitan Mafia, Salvatore Lo Russo, helped find the Golden Ball, the prize for the best player of the 1986 World Cup and some expensive watches stolen from Diego, but he was a few hours late and the prize was melted down into gold bullion, while the watch was recovered.

In Naples, Diego had an affair with the famous dancer Heather Parisi, they were photographed on the balcony of Diego”s house, although Maradona himself denied their love affair, saying that they were only friends. In 1989, he was accused of aiding and abetting the arrival of South American prostitutes in Italy, allegedly supplied by Carmela Cinquegrana, a brothel manager. According to Felice Pizza, a participant in these shipments, Diego had twelve thousand women (about five each day) during his life in Naples.

Drugs

According to Maradona himself, drugs affected all his abilities except his memory.

Diego first tried drugs while playing for Barcelona. He used them to feel good in an unfamiliar environment: “At first I experienced an emotional shock: everything around me became very light, cheerful, entertaining. Wonderful feelings that, unfortunately, didn”t last long. And then I felt the need to start doing it again and again, and I didn”t know how to get out of it. Diego”s drug use was accompanied by long periods of depression, as well as periods of aggression toward those close to him: “I remember with horror how my daughters came to me asking to play with them, and I couldn”t because I was stoned. Perpetually stoned. I think if it wasn”t for my wife, I wouldn”t be in this world right now. It”s a debt I”ll never repay.” That said, for him, drugs were not doping, nor were they improving his physical condition.

His addiction to drugs, according to the mother of his illegitimate child Cristiana Sinagra, was due to the fact that Maradona had a delicate mental organization and a very fragile psyche. According to some, the main reason for his addiction to drugs was a close relationship with his agent, Guillermo Coppola, who was accused of drug trafficking. According to Maradona, he finally stopped using drugs in May 2004.

Maradona”s entourage

In addition to the constant media attention, Maradona had a very busy daily routine of constant meetings, travel, and publicity shoots. Eventually Maradona even hired a personal secretary, Claudia”s fiancée girlfriend, Cecilia, who answered the phone.

For a long time the first person around Diego was Jorge Siterspieler, his best friend since childhood. They met when Diego was 14 and Jorge was 16. The Onion players often stopped by Siterspieler”s house for lunch. Thanks to Maradona, Sieterspieler became the youngest agent in Argentina at 19. He helped Diego handle the financial and legal affairs: in particular, he was one of the organizers of the transfer of Diego to the Boca Juniors and created the firm Maradona Productions. Sieterspieler even in 1977, when Diego first went abroad in the junior national team of Argentina, was with him in the room, helping him through the separation from his family. That”s when Diego asked: “I don”t know much yet, Cabezón, help me.” Sitherspieler dropped out of college to handle Diego”s affairs. They worked together until October 1985, when Citespieler, who not only lost some of Diego”s money in unsuccessful deals, but also counted him 300 billion lire in debt, was replaced by Guillermo Coppola.

Coppola worked for Maradona until 2003. They parted in scandal: Diego accused Coppola of not giving him $2 million for a farewell match. Diego filed a lawsuit. In April 2008, the parties reached a conciliatory resolution of the case.

In addition to the staff who worked for him, Maradona was often surrounded by people who wanted privileges from him. Some players bragged about their acquaintance with Maradona, wanting to get from it some lucrative contracts with clubs.

Cult of Personality and Popularity

Both in Argentina and in Naples, Maradona became an idol, a “sports idol. Above all, Diego was popular with the common people of these regions. In Naples he was a symbol of the mythical confrontation between the “oppressed” poor clubs of southern Italy and the “powerful” northern clubs that supposedly ran soccer in the country.

In June 2006, Jorge Valdano, Maradona”s former partner in Argentina, said in an interview with the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung that when Diego left soccer, he traumatized all of Argentina. That Maradona is more than a brilliant soccer player. He is compensation for a country that has survived several military dictatorships and years of social and social failures.

Sociologist Eliseo Verón stated that Maradona is essential for the most underprivileged people in Argentina who need God, and therefore identify with him as Diego did previously with Evita Perón. Maradona himself maintained a love for Argentina and the Argentine people, so in 1987 he turned down a million-dollar contract with IMG because he would have had to take dual Argentine-American citizenship to do the deal: “My nationality is priceless. No one can pay me enough to make me stop feeling Argentinian, no one! Everyone else – even Henry Kissinger – agreed and sold themselves for a million dollars. But for me it”s not a question of money: being Argentinian is priceless.

I am the voice of the voiceless, the representative of the people. I am one of them, no different from them. It”s just that I”m always being approached with microphones, and I have a chance to say everything. And no one gave these people in their miserable lives that chance!

One of the main examples of Maradona”s idolatry is the “Church of the Maradonian. This mock religion is widespread for the most part in South America, with about 60,000 adherents. For the “parishioners”, the first year is 1960, the year Diego was born. June 22, the day Diego scored two goals against England in the World Cup, is Easter. The Church has now built a monument to Maradona in the Boca Juniors museum.

Maradona”s popularity is expressed in the songs addressed to him. The singer Rodrigo Bueno wrote the song “La mano de Dios” (“God”s Hand”). The rock band Los Piojos wrote the song Maradó, Fito Paez wrote the song “Y dale alegría a mi corazón” (“You make my heart laugh”), Los Calzones wrote the song “Yo te sigo” (“I am coming for you”), Mano Negra wrote the song “Santa Maradona” (“Saint Maradona”), Andres Calamaro for the song “Maradona”, Charlie Garcia for the song “Maradona blues”, Los Ratones Paranoicos for the song “Para siempre”, Attaque 77 for the song “Francotirador”, Los Cafres for the song “Capitán Pelusa” (“Captain Fluffy”), Las Pastillas del Abuelo with the song “¿Qué es Dios? (“What God?”), Bersuit Vergarabat for the song “Maradona”, Beangrowers for the song “Maradona”, Hurtmold for the song “Música Política Para Maradona Cantar”, Caught Anteaters for the song “Millions, Maradona”. The song “Samba with Maradona” by composer Ruslan Gorobts to lyrics by poet Mikhail Tanich, performed by Soviet singer Anne Veski, became the winner of the all-Union festival “Song-87”.

In 2004, there was a theatrical performance in Cuba, called “T-shirt number 10: Between Heaven and Hell”, where Maradona is the main character. On March 30, 2007, a biographical film about Maradona by Italian director Marco Risi, Maradona, la mano di Dio, was released. In 2008, the film Maradona, directed by Emir Kusturica, was released; a large part of the film is dedicated to the “Church of Maradona”.

In 2016, the Argentine television company Telefe began work on a series about Maradona”s life.

After the death of Diego Maradona on Nov. 25, 2020, the mayor of Naples and the president of Napoli soccer club announced that the club”s home stadium would be named after Maradona.

In 2020, for the first time in history, the Argentine Soccer League Cup was organized and named after Maradona – Copa Diego Armando Maradona.

Relationship with the Press

Maradona, since his move to Boca Juniors, has always attracted a lot of attention from the media, which gradually “translated” into the hatred of Diego for members of the profession. The most disgusting for him were the constant questions asked by correspondents of women”s magazines. According to his friend, the journalist Daniel Arcucci, “Maradona needs journalists and journalists need Maradona”.

I do not understand why correspondents of newspapers, radio, and television, without collusion, always ask the same questions. Where was he born? Where did you start playing? What players and teams do you like? What was the toughest goal? And five more questions like that. And almost everyone advises me to grow up faster. Is this a deliberate campaign? I have experienced flattery and envy, misunderstanding and alienation before many others. The doors of fashionable social clubs were often closed in front of me. Coaches of other teams did not want to recognize me as a player and taught their charges only one thing: to neutralize me on the field or take me out of the game by any means. Many waited for me to stumble, get injured, and predicted my failure. Often I wanted to cry. And do you know why it happened? Because I was a simple guy, from a working class family, not educated enough. I was accused of immodesty. And I suffered and bravado. I began to earn a lot of money. I purposely embezzled it left and right. Let them be angry! I wanted to spite everyone. I bought the most expensive shirts and pants, went to famous restaurants, and courted the most beautiful women, even though I only loved Claudia. When I bought my first car, I was told I had to buy a house first. In decent Argentine families, it turns out, that”s the way it is. “The most important thing in life is a roof over your head.” I planted a tree in honor of Beckenbauer. And they asked me why not in honor of Di Stefano, Sivori, or at least Pele. They need to know everything, but only very superficially. They are not afraid to repeat themselves in their writings, just as they do not hesitate to ask the same questions, to invent the same nicknames for me, or to make up stories about my “adventures. I”m sick of it all! I want to play, not to answer their stupid questions from morning till night, to give endless autographs…

Sometimes Maradona fell into long-term depressions because of the press, and his game suffered as a result:

I get tired of bad journalists and tabloids. They attribute to me nonexistent affairs, quarrels and fights, increase my debts. Several newspapers wrote about my car accident. But it wasn”t my car that broke down, it was Hugo”s, not in Buenos Aires, but in Cordoba, and our uncle wasn”t driving it… The newspapers wrote that I had bought a steam yacht, and I hadn”t seen the sea for two years. I don”t want to be a star anymore. I”m quitting soccer!

While being treated for drug addiction in Cuba, Maradona broke the window of the car in which Reuters representatives were filming Diego. In 2001, Diego beat up a correspondent and photo reporter for the newspaper El Panama America. March 6, 2007 Maradona attacked a photo reporter who photographed him in a nightclub. On May 19, 2010, Maradona drove his car over the leg of a cameraman who was meeting him outside the Argentine soccer federation; Diego apologized for his actions.

Political views

Maradona had been on friendly terms with the former president of Argentina, Carlos Menem, for several years. In 1999, he celebrated with him the victory of the “radical” Fernando de la Rua over Eduardo Dualde in the presidential elections. He also visited him during his house arrest in 2001, when Menem was accused of supplying weapons to Ecuador and Croatia. The year before, in 2000, Menem attended the presentation of Maradona”s autobiographical book, Yo soy el Diego.

In the 2000s Diego began to express his political sympathies for leftist politics. This began during his rehabilitation period in Cuba, where he began to be friends with the country”s leader, Fidel Castro, whom he supported publicly: “Castro is the only politician I respect. He has always risked his life. Fidel is the father of all revolutions that people undertake in order to change things and make progress. Cuba doesn”t live luxuriously, but there are no hungry people there. Maradona also expressed admiration for Ernesto Che Guevara in a phrase referring to the ruler of Argentina in the 1980s, Jorge Videla: “Types like Videla contribute to the fact that, Argentina”s name gets dirty from the outside; instead, Che makes us feel proud.” To pay homage to leftist politicians, Maradona has a tattoo of Che Guevara”s face on his right arm.

I thank God for bringing me to Cuba so I could see the fruits of Che Guevara”s labors. My Argentine hero – I carry him tattooed on my shoulder, but even deeper in my heart. He was a rebel. So was I.

Maradona also endorsed the work of the country”s president, Néstor Kirchner. In October 2007, Maradona publicly supported the country”s presidential candidate, Cristina Kirchner, wife of Néstor Kirchner, who became president of Argentina by election results. In 2010, after Argentina”s defeat in the quarterfinals of the World Cup, Cristina Kirchner publicly stated that she wanted Diego to remain in charge of the national team, and said: “My doors are open for him and the players at any moment.” After Maradona”s resignation, Cristina said she was very saddened. In the fall of 2010, Nestor and Cristina supported Diego in his desire to return as head coach of the national team. In October 2011, Maradona, who had supported Kirchner during the campaign, publicly congratulated Cristina, who was re-elected for a second term.

In November 2005, Maradona was one of the main people at the “Cumbre de los Pueblos” (“Meeting of the Peoples”) conference, created in opposition to the IV Summit of the Americas. At this conference he unofficially represented the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro. Diego was a guest on the Alba Express train leaving Buenos Aires with 160 conference participants. In attendance were Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Cuban musician Silvio Rodriguez, Nobel laureate Adolfo Perez, Bolivian presidential candidate Evo Morales at the time, and representatives of the Mother of May Square movement. Maradona himself appeared at the event wearing a “Stop Bush” T-shirt, with the letters sh in the U.S. president”s last name stylized as a swastika. Diego”s participation irritated several political leaders, including the president of Mexico, Vicente Fox.

On August 20, 2007, Maradona participated in a talk show hosted by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in which he said..:

I believe in Chavez, you can call me a Chavist. Everything Chavez and Castro are doing is the best thing modern politicians can do. I hate everything that comes from the US, everything that has to do with them. I hate the U.S. with all my heart!

In December 2007, Maradona gave an autographed T-shirt to Iran”s foreign ministry, saying he was “with the Iranian people with all his heart.”

On March 14, 2008, Maradona supported Bolivia”s desire to play soccer games 2,700 meters above sea level. In addition to supporting the country, Diego blamed FIFA and its president, Josef Blatter, whom he said had “never even kicked a penalty kick,” expressing the opinion that the federation”s leaders had no idea about soccer.

In the summer of 2010, Maradona met with Hugo Chavez, whom he called his friend. He said: “It is a great honor for me to be around a president who fights for the people, the country and his ideals. I will be with him for the rest of my life; I always watch him defend his position. It”s all fantastic.” And a year later Diego visited Chávez, who was undergoing treatment for cancer (he died a few years later).

On September 3, 2012, Maradona became the sports ambassador of the emirate of Dubai.

In 2015, Diego called FIFA president Josef Blatter incompetent: “Is the 79-year-old sly fox going for a fifth term after all? His cronies have stolen everything but the furniture in their offices, and Blatter says he knows nothing. Maybe we should call him St. Zapp Innocence Himself. Blatter is incompetent,” and Julio Grondonu accused him of buying votes for him.

In 2017, Maradona personally expressed support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, saying, “We are all soldiers of Maduro, soldiers of the great motherland.”

In October 2020, Maradona said he trusted Russian President Vladimir Putin to be able to quickly develop a vaccine against COVID-19.

Litigation

Besides possession of cocaine in 1991, Maradona often had problems with the law. In 1994, for example, he fired an air rifle at journalists, four of whom were lightly wounded. The prosecutor wanted to give him four years in prison; his lawyer expressed a desire to replace prison with community service. He was sentenced in June to two years and 10 months” probation.

Italian Cristina Sinagra applied to the court for Diego to recognize her son, whom she named Diego. Maradona refused to take a paternity test and Judge Maria Lidia de Luca ruled that the child could bear his father”s last name and also ordered Maradona to pay $3,100 in monthly alimony. Despite the court order, Maradona has long failed to pay money to Cristina, owing by 1998, 221 thousand dollars. In May 2003, the father began playing golf in the Italian city of Fiuggi. That”s also where Diego Jr. came in. Maradona initially drove away from his child in a mini-car, but then turned around and talked to his son for about 40 minutes. Despite this meeting and the 1995 court confirmation, Maradona never acknowledged his paternity. In October 2005, he said on television, “Accepting is not admitting. I have two daughters, the fruit of my love. Their names are Dalma and Janina. I pay for my past mistakes with money. The judge forced me to give him money, but he can”t force me to feel love for him.” Because of delays in payment, Cristina Sinagra began foreclosure in 2005, which deprived Diego of the Moreno home he owned. After negotiations between the parties, the auction of the house was canceled.

In 1996, Diego”s second child out of wedlock, Jean, was born from a relationship with a 20-year-old girl, Valeria Sabalain. Maradona, as in the first case, refused to take a paternity test. As a result, the girl was allowed to carry her father”s last name. In 2001, the court ordered the payment of child support in the amount of 2 thousand pesos per month. On June 29, 2001, this decision was upheld by the I Hall of the House of Appeals. In 2004, Maradona agreed with the girl”s mother to pay 400 thousand pesos and ceded the rights to the company Aceites y Esencias Patagónicas to third parties, who undertook to pay 2.4 thousand pesos monthly, until the girl turned 21. Due to the fact that the enterprise refused to pay the money. The opposing parties agreed that the company would pay 2,700 pesos monthly. It was confirmed by the court that Maradona authorized the supervision of the payment of his daughter”s money to his agent, Guillermo Coppola, who did not comply with the order.

Maradona”s third child out of wedlock was his son Santiago, as confirmed by DNA testing. The grandmother, who took care of the child, asked Diego to provide them with food. Santiago”s mother was Natalia Garat, who died in November 2005 because of cancer. During Maradona”s time in Cuba, however, he regularly paid money to Natalia, through Dr. Alfredo Caye and Guillermo Coppola; after his return to Argentina, however, Claudia Villafaña forbade sending money.

In August 1998, the wife of Argentinian striker Claudio Canigi, Mariana Nannis, called Maradona “gay. The reason for this was that the wife was jealous of players who were firmly friends with each other, and that Maradona kissed Canigi firmly on the lips while celebrating a goal.

Another problem Maradona had was a relationship with the Italian tax inspectorate, according to which he owed the Italian treasury more than $ 25 million, later that amount rose to $ 38.5 million. According to the prosecution, Maradona in the last 2 years in Napoli did not pay taxes. It happened because the team president Corrado Ferlaino, told him and several other players that made two contracts, one for the use of the image of the player, and the other for soccer performances, paying taxes on both contracts, but in fact he did not. Gradually, interest accrued on the amount. While Diego was in Italy, the police confiscated two Rolex watches belonging to Diego, valued at 10,000 euros. A few years earlier, Maradona had had all the money he received for appearing on an Italian television program confiscated. In September 2009 Maradona, bailiffs confiscated the earring, valued at 4 thousand euros. On January 14, 2010 the earring was sold at auction for 25 thousand euros. It was bought by a fan of Maradona, the Italian footballer Fabrizio Mikcoli. In 2012 the legal battle continued: Diego was accused of tax evasion to the amount of 40 million euros. Maradona himself said that his lawyer has already proved that the Argentine did not evade paying taxes.

In February 2003, Diego was found to be an accomplice in an accident that occurred in 1998. In it, his advertising agent, Ferro Vierra, ran a red light and crashed into another car. The court ordered Diego to pay a fine of 12,500 euros.

In January 2006, while on vacation in Polynesia, Maradona was accused of breaking a glass over the head of a woman who was a Polynesian beauty queen when she argued with Diego”s daughter, Janina. The incident was resolved in court.

In 2006 Diego was accused of causing light bodily injury to a couple when he drove a Mitsubishi Montero into a telephone booth on February 10, 2006, whose flying glass cut people. Diego himself said that he had not committed any offense and had never been at the place in the first place. After 5 summonses to court, to which Maradona did not show up, Judge Gonzalo Rua forced him to bring him to the courthouse by force. At the time of the decision Maradona was not in the country. It was not until October 7, 2008, when Diego returned from Italy, that he was brought to court. The prosecution wanted to give Diego 1 year and 1 month in jail and seized the player”s property of 17.6 thousand pesos. A ruling on the case has not yet been made.

In June 2011 Maradona sued The9 Limited for illegal use of his image in Winning Goal. In August 2012, Diego began suing Beijing Sina Internet Information Service Co Ltd and Shanghai No. 9 City Information Technology Co Ltd, Chinese Internet poker companies, over the illegal posting of Maradona”s photos on their websites. In 2016, Maradona sued Dolce & Gabbana for using a swimsuit with the number 10 and Maradona”s last name in their fashion collection. In 2019, the lawsuit ended, awarding Diego 70,000 euros in compensation.

Team

“Boca Juniors.

“Barcelona”

“Napoli”

Team Argentina

Sources

  1. Марадона, Диего Армандо
  2. Diego Maradona
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