Photo: Diego Maradona (Getty Images)
Legendary football icon Diego Armando Maradona died at age 60 in Tigre, Argentina, on Wednesday. The Argentinian Football Association reported that Maradona succumbed to a cardiac arrest at home following an operation for a blood clot on the brain earlier this month. The Argentine has been having several health issues and was recently released two weeks ago from a clinic in Buenos Aires.
The 1986 World Cup winner was widely regarded as one of his generation's greatest football player and was ranked number one in "90min's 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time." Maradona began his career at Argentinos Juniors, before he subsequently moved to Boca Junior. He was eventually scouted and picked up quickly by FC Barcelona, staying for only two seasons before moving to his beloved Napoli.
The decorated footballer was a skillful playmaker and famous for his tremendous dribbling aptitude. Maradona was a talisman and a very instrumental player for his teams, winning titles for every club he played for in Argentina, Spain, and Italy. He also played at the highest stage, competing in four FIFA World Cups, including the 1986 triumph in Mexico. He captained his nation to their second title and won himself the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player.
His quarter-final showdown against England was memorable and will be forever unforgettable. Controversially, Maradona's first goal came after he leaped and punched the ball over England's goalkeeper Peter Shilton and into the back of the net. Maradona later declared the goal as the 'Hand of God' and was bold enough to celebrate the goal in front of the linesman who had failed to see the infringement. His second of the match was an absolute peach of a goal and was described as 'the goal of the century,' dribbling past the entire England team before dragging the keeper wide and slotting his shot into an empty net.
While undoubtedly he was a genius with the ball at his feet, his career was plagued with controversy. His international playing career ended abruptly when he failed a drug test at the 1994 FIFA World Cup staging held in the United States. He was also banned from football in 1991 after being tested positive for cocaine while playing for Napoli. However, Maradona's admiration will forever remain at the Italian Club, where he had won two Serie A titles.
His career also involved coaching, he managed Argentina from 2008 - 2010, leading La Albiceleste at the 2010 FIFA World Cup from the sidelines.
His career has left an immense legacy for many football players around the world. He will be missed, and his passing will be deeply mourned by many.