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Diego Maradona


Shirt number for Barça: 10
Nationality: Argentinian
Position: Forward
Birth Date: 30.10.1960
Birth Place: Lanus [Argentina]
Seasons in Barça: 2
Transfered to Barça from: Boca Juniors
Transfered from Barça to: SSC Napoli

Seasons at the club: 1982-84
Games played: 73
Goals scored: 45

Titles:
1 Copa del Rey (1982/83)
1 League Cup (1982/83)
1 Spanish Super Cup (1983)

Clubs:
Argentinos Juniors (Argentina)
Boca Juniors (Argentina)
Barcelona (Spain)
Napoli (Italy)
Sevilla (Spain)
Newell's Old Boys (Argentina)
Boca Juniors (Argentina)

Major Honours: World Cup 1986; World Footballer of the Year 1986 and UEFA Cup 1988

Relevant Career Statistics: 90 caps and 34 International goals.

Diego Maradona was much more than the world’s greatest footballer throughout the 1980's and early 1990's. He was also the most controversial and the most enigmatic, unable to appear in public or on a football pitch without arousing the most contrasting of emotions. His admirers in Argentina, where he enjoyed early glory with Argentinos Juniors and Boca Juniors, considered him little less than a god and in Italy where he triumphed with Napoli they worshipped his bootlaces. So did all of Argentina after Maradona reached the zenith of his career, when he captained his Country to victory in the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico.

Where it all went wrong is anyone's guess, but it began in the working-class Fiorito suburb of Lanus in the province of Buenos Aires where Maradona began playing for a kids' team named Estrella Roja (Red Star) at the age of nine. Later he and his friends founded a team known as Los Cebollitas (The Little Onions) who were so promising that the whole side was signed up en bloc by unfashionable first division club Argentinos Juniors and turned into one of the club's youth sides.

On 20th October 1976, Maradona (wearing No. 10) made his league debut as a 15-year-old substitute against Talleres Cordoba and a week later he played his first full match against Newell's Old Boys from Rosario. In February 1977 he made his debut for Argentina as a substitute for Rene Houseman in a 5-1 victory in a friendly against Hungary. It appeared odds-on that Maradona would be a member of the squad with which manager Cesar Luis Menotti planned to win the World Cup for Argentina for the first time in front of their own fanatical fans in 1978. Menotti included Maradona in a preparatory squad of 25 players but he was one of the three players dropped on the eve of the finals.



It was months before he would speak to Menotti again. but their eventual peace talk paved the way for the first international success of Maradona's career at the 1979 World Youth Cup in Japan. Boca Juniors bought him for a world record £1 million, then later resold him to Spain's Barcelona for a further record £3 million. Before joining the Catalans he succumbed to the pressures of his World Cup, in Spain in 1982, where he was sent off for an awful lunge at Batista of Brazil. It was the recurring theme of his career: a unique talent for football shadowed by a similarly unique ability to arouse controversy. It says much for the magical technique of his left foot that, despite all the negative vibes, Maradona continued to entrance the game.



In 1984 Napoli paid another world record, this time £5 million, to end his injury-battered two-year stay with Barcelona. Napoli president Corrado Ferlaino had all manner of problems raising the money. But he was repaid within weeks as Napoli sold a staggering 70,000 season tickets. Two Italian league championships and one UEFA Cup success were the reward for the fans while souvenir merchants did a roaring trade in Maradona wigs.

He will perhaps be best remembered for the 1986 World Cup where he captained his country to victory. English fans still rage over his "Hand of God" goal in the quarter-final in Mexico City but Argentine fans remember most clearly his other goal in that game when he collected the ball inside his own half and outwitted five defenders and goalkeeper Peter Shilton before gliding home one of the greatest goals in the history of the World Cup. He provided a repeat against Belgium in the semi-finals: another brilliant slalom through the defence but from the left, not the right. Then in the final against Germany, it was Maradona who provided the slide-rule pass which sent Jorge Burruchaga away to score the dramatic winner.

Maradona's great ability made his subsequent fall all the greater. His love affair with Italian football went sour after the 1990 World Cup when Argentina defeated the hosts on penalties in the semi-final in Maradona's adopted home of Naples. The following spring a dope test showed cocaine traces. He was banned from Italian and then world football for 15 months. He left Napoli in 1991 after seven glorious, roller-coaster years. He returned to Argentina and was arrested there for cocaine possession. Released on probation, he sought to revive his playing career in Spain but half a season at Seville proved a disaster when even their coach Carlos Bilardo, who had been his World Cup-winning coach in Mexico, grew tired of his stormy ways.

Back in Argentina he turned briefly to coach Deportivo Mandiyu, then Racing, before undertaking two more playing comebacks first with Newell\\\'s Old Boys. then with his old love Boca Juniors. He even returned to the World Cup stage but that ended in the greatest humiliation of all when he was banished from the 1994 finals in the United States after failing another dope test. His last match was with Boca juniors on 25th October 1997 winning 1-2 away against River Plate and on 30th October 1997 he decides to retire from football on the day of his 37th birthday.

In 1999 he agrees to a movie about his life and takes part in the Italian movie "Tifosi". On 11th December 2000 he was named as FIFA's Internet Player of the Century following an on-line poll.




** Thanks to Motta #23 for doing this. Sources cited for this are royoftherovers.com and vivadiego.com

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