November 26, 2020/-
Diego Maradona, one of the greatest footballers of all time, has died at the age of 60.
One of the most colourful and controversial characters in the history of the game,known for his Hand of God goal against England, the Argentine icon passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest in his home in Tigre, near Buenos Aires, on Wednesday.
Maradona almost single-handedly guided Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986, and was revered in his home country.
Argentina’s president, Alberto Fernandez, declared three days of national mourning and said: “You took us to the top of the world. You made us immensely happy. You were the greatest of all.”
His death triggered an outpouring of emotion across the world and Lionel Messi led the tributes, describing the man who has inspired his career as ‘eternal’.
The Cuban leader Fidel Castro was a very good friend of Maradona.
Maradona had mentioned Castro as his ‘second father’ in most of the interviews and had met him in 1987 and got intimate until his death in 2016.
Maradona had stayed in Cuba for 4 years and enjoyed the leaders company in morning walks and other close meetings.
He had Castro’s tattoo on his left leg and Che Guevara’s on the right arm.
“A very sad day for all Argentines and football,” said the Argentina and Barcelona superstar.
“He leaves us but does not leave, because Diego is eternal.
“I keep all the beautiful moments lived with him and I send my condolences to all his family and friends.”
Maradona enjoyed god-like status in Argentina and in Naples too, having been the genius behind the Italian club’s first ever Serie A title.
A short and tenacious playmaker renowned for his incredible dribbling skills and ability to create something out of nothing for himself and his teammates, Maradona helped win titles at every club he played for in Argentina, Italy and Spain.
He played in four FIFA World Cups, including the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, where he captained his nation to victory and won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player.
He also managed Argentina between 2008-2010, leading them at the 2010 World Cup.
Maradona showed the world he possessed those traits in both of his goals – arguably two of the most famous goals in football history.
His first came after he punched the ball over the despairing leap of Peter Shilton and into the back of the net.
Later declaring the goal as the ‘Hand of God’, Maradona even had the audacity and arrogance to celebrate the goal in front of the same linesman who failed to see the infringement.
His second was a work of art, rightly described as ‘The Goal of the Century’ as he slalomed through the English defence before slotting home.
He went on to score one of the all-time great goals in the same game.
His international playing career ended in shame when he failed a drugs test at the 1994 World Cup in the United States and he was notorious for a wayward lifestyle throughout his life.
He was also banned from football in 1991 after testing positive for cocaine while playing for Napoli.
However, he remained a revered figure at the Italian club, where he won two Serie A title.
Gary Lineker, who played in the England side in that 1986 quarter-final defeat, said: “By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time.
Terry Fenwick was also part of that England team and, having been left in Maradona’s wake as he scored his incredible second goal, joked to talkSPORT he “ruined my international career over 90 minutes”.
Fenwick admitted he was initially “bitter and twisted” at what had unfolded when Maradona handballed Argentina into the lead.
But as time has passed, Fenwick’s anger has given way to reverence for a true icon of the game.
After downing England, Maradona went on to lead Argentina to World Cup glory – scoring five times in Mexico
After downing England, Maradona went on to lead Argentina to World Cup glory – scoring five times in Mexico.
Football clubs around the world paid tribute to Maradona on social media, led by Barcelona and Napoli who shared pictures of their iconic former player.
Manchester City posted a photo of him embracing Sergio Aguero, adding: “We’re joining the footballing world in saying farewell to one of the absolute greats.”
And Liverpool tweeted: “A true great of the game. Rest in peace, Diego Maradona.”
Real Madrid – great rivals of one of Maradona’s former clubs, Barcelona – paid tribute to “one of the greatest players in all history”.
“Diego Armando Maradona leaves an immense legacy, which has become a myth for millions of fans around the world,” the club said in a statement.
England captain Harry Kane tweeted a picture of himself with Maradona at Spurs’ stadium, adding: “Privileged to have met him. Very sad news. RIP Diego Maradona.”
England’s offical Twitter account also posted a message, which read: “Farewell, Diego. A legend of our game.”
Reacting to his death on talkSPORT, South American football expert Tim Vickery outlined just how much he means to his nation.
He said: “You can tell the history of South American football through Diego Maradona. Firstly football is reintroduced by the British and then it’s reinterpreted by the South Americans.
“That benefitted that players especially with a low sense of gravity like Maradona, he was difficult to kick and boy people tried.
“That reinterpretation by the South Americans led to international triumphs and international recognition for a region of the world that is starved of those things.
“There’s so much of the history of South American football in Maradona.
“The heights that he touched in the 1986 World Cup, I’ve never seen anything like it – somebody being able to play at that level on the highest stage in those type of games.
Maradona won the Argentine Primera División with Boca Juniors before going on to even greater success with his country.
He was a source of inspiration for many aspiring and professional footballers and others across the globe.