This is the story of a young boy from the suburbs of Buenos Aires, a boy that came from humble beginnings, that grew up to carry the weight of the hopes and dreams of an entire nation and lead them to glory. The story of a pint-sized boy who ended up with a religion created in his honour. Love him or hate him, the world marveled at the genius of Diego Armando Maradona. El Pibe de Ora (The Golden Boy), as he is often called, was perhaps one of the most exciting players to step onto a football pitch.
With a career peppered with numerous incidents, it’s a wonder the little fella never had time to grow up. In 590 senior appearances, scoring 311 goals, Maradona has never done things by halves and now he sits at the top of the list of the diddy men that impressed the world of football, looking down on the others, for perhaps the first time in his life.
A precocious talent, he was scouted at an early age of 8, he joined Los Cebollitas (The Little Onions) the junior team of the Buenos Aires’s Argentinos Juniors. From amusing crowds at half-time with his ball tricks for the first division matches, he went on to win many laurels for the country and many a club.
Having started his illustrious career at Argentinos Juniors, he scored 115 goals in 167 appearances for the club, a phenomenal feat for a youngster. An advanced playmaker, with exceptional skills with the ball, he quickly rose through the ranks and attracted the attention of many clubs, with River Plate even offering to make him their highest paid player. Maradona, however, refused and went on to sign for Boca Juniors, an elite Argentine club, one he had always expressed a will to play for. He had a short but successful stint here having helped the team win the league that year, and would soon move on to bigger and better things.
In 1982, Maradona was selected for his first World Cup tournament. Argentina were defending champions and many were looking to the team to repeat their performances from four years prior. Despite Maradona bagging two goals, he couldn’t help his team go further than the second round. However, at just 21 he had experienced his first World Cup, playing every minute until he was sent off against Brazil with just five minutes left on the clock. Nonetheless, his brilliance on the pitch did not go unnoticed as Barcelona came a-knocking.
The revered El Classico goal, one no one can forget
Maradona’s best moves while he adorned the No. 10 jersey of Napoli
The Hand of God
Maradona’s goal of the century
Subsequently, the charm and shine of the “Barrilete Cósmico” (the Cosmic Barrel) faded. He played in another two World Cups, taking them all the way to the final in 1990, where they unfortunately lost. Facing drug related issues and a rocky personal life, he left Napoli in a disgraced fashion. He moved around after that, playing for Sevilla, Newell’s Old Boys and Boca Juniors in his final years. The 1994 world cup saw him fail a drug test and consequently sent home.