Born 1960, near Buenos Aires, he originally played with “the little Onions” team but by age 16 was the youngest international player, playing against Hungary. Two years later he was captain of the World Youth Cup winners, and was transferred to Boca Juniors for 1 million pounds. He was South American Player of the Year for both 1979 and 1980.
In 1982, Maradona signed up with Barcelona, this time the transfer fee was a record 5 million pounds. A success with Barca, Maradona was transferred to Napoli for another record fee of 6.9 million pounds. Between 1982 and 1991, Maradona was arguably at the peak of his career.
It was in the 1986 FIFA final between Argentina and England that Maradona showed both his brilliance – and human frailty. In the one match – Maradona scored a goal for his team off an illegal handball move, that the referee did not see. Maradona called it an intervention of the Hand of God – others were not so enthusiastic with England manager calling the goal – the hand of a rascal.
Shortly afterwards Maradona scored, legitimately, what has been called the greatest individual goal of all time – the goal of the century. Maradona, unable to pass the ball, continued to run a 60 meter – 10 second dash – past five English players to score a second Argentinian goal – the winning goal of the match.
Playing for Argentina in 1990, Maradona’s team lost to the Germans, and some see it as being the beginning of the end for Maradona’s brilliant soccer career.
In 1991, Maradona, playing for Napoli, was arrested – testing positive for cocaine. It was inevitable that he would be suspended, and he served a 15 month suspension.
In 1994, playing for Argentina, he helped them beat Greece in the first round, only to be caught for using ephedrine drug in the following game against Nigeria. This was effectively the end of Maradona’s international career.
Between1992 and 1995, Maradona played for Sevilla of Spain, and Newell’s Old Boys.
In 1995 he returned to play for Boca Juniors, and suffering obesity he formally retired from the game in 1997, on his 37th birthday.
Between 1997 and 2005, Maradona suffered ill health, obesity and the effects of cocaine use.
Maradona first became addicted to cocaine in the mid 1980′s and by the time of his retirement in 1997, after 17 years as a top player, Maradona’s health was poor. He suffered a cocaine related heart attack in 2000, did some rehab in Cuba, and suffered a further cocaine related heart attack in 2004.
In 2005, Maradona used stomach stapling to control his weight gain, and made a heroic attempt to get off using cocaine. However in 2007, he was back in rehab for alcohol abuse, after which he announced on Argentine TV that he had now quit alcohol, and had not used cocaine since 2005.
From December 2008, through 2009, Maradona made a comeback to the Argentinian National Soccer team – as a coach. Despite his personal skills, opinion polls were said to indicate that most Argentinian’s did not want him as the national soccer coach – his name tainted by wild behavior and cocaine addiction during his post playing “career”. His contract as head coach was terminated in 2010.
Some team members say that, despite his unruly reputation they loved playing with the “legend”. Seen as a saint, or a sinner, the Maradona fan club boasts over 100,000 members.
Maradona still has a world wide following, a website dedicated to his successes as a soccer player.
In 2000 Maradona published an autobiography, and an internet poll voted him the FIFA Player of the Century – however a panel of FIFA experts later awarded Pele that honor. When Maradona protested at this procedure, two awards were made to both Pele and Maradona, but Maradona remained unsatisfied with this result.
In his personal life, Maradona had two daughters but subsequently divorced the childhood sweetheart who became his wife, and also had a son, Diego Sinagra who plays football for Italy.
And so – the Maradona story – an ordinary man, with a talent for playing soccer – elevated to the status of “God”, a divinity according to many Argentine nationals.
He is nicknamed DIOS – the Spanish word for God and the number 10, his playing number.
Maradona was a “Sport Hero”, a symbol – that people have said gave Argentine people a point of focus during times of serious political unrest.
Cocaine makes people feel powerful, invincible – increases energy levels, such that people will use it and think that they are the “top”.
There is no doubt that the public thought that Maradona was “top” – support for the legend lives on. To settle what demons, for what purpose would a man like Maradona need and use cocaine.
Perhaps fame and glory, at the end of the day is both a blessing – and a curse – that does not bring the happiness and personal contentment that we think it might.
If you are into using cocaine – see it as an essential part of your image – don’t wait until it brings you down – as it did Maradona.
Comprehensive addiction recovery programs can help you come down from cocaine abuse and help you to get straight. There is nothing that cocaine can do – that you can’t achieve on your own.
Much talent has been wasted, over the years, careers destroyed, by people using cocaine – simply because they didn’t think that they were good enough – to make it on their own.