Biography of Diego Maradona
Football player Diego Maradona is a legend of world football and the owner of numerous titles and awards. Born in the slums of Buenos Aires, he became the greatest soccer player in the world, scoring 345 goals and writing his name in sports history.
Childhood and family
Diego Armando Maradona was born on October 30, 1960 in a poor quarter of the industrial city of Lanus, located near Buenos Aires. The future football player spent his childhood years in the Villa Fiorita area, in the slums of Greater Buenos Aires.
Diego was one of the seven children of Diego and Dalma Salvador. A large family huddled in three small rooms without amenities, and, as the famous athlete wrote in his autobiography, the mother cooked food in the yard, because there was no kitchen inside, and during rain, streams of water poured in through a dilapidated canopy that served them as a roof.
Diego Maradona as a child
Diego’s obsession with football manifested itself early: his first ball was an orange, with which he learned to handle so that passers-by could not take their eyes off a three-year-old kid whose dexterity was amazing. At the age of eight, Dieguito received as a gift, although not a new, but a real leather ball, which he did not part with even in his sleep: he slept, clutching it to his chest.
Young Diego Maradona
First steps in sports
Without false modesty, Maradona said that he was a professional football player already in elementary school. The first team Diego played for was the junior Los Cebollitas, and shortly before his 16th birthday, he moved to the Argentinos Juniors.
For his first match as part of Argentinos Juniors, the future champion came out in a T-shirt with the number 16 and entered the history of Argentine football as the youngest player in the Primera Division, the top division of the Argentine football league.
Diego Maradona in Argentinos Juniors
The legendary phrase that during the game he seemed to hold the sky in his hands, Diego said after he scored his first goal. It happened on November 14, 1976 in a match against the San Lorenzo team.
As part of the Argentinos Juniors, Diego played for almost five years, scoring 115 goals in 167 matches. In 1981, the brilliant striker moved to Boca Juniors, who paid him $4 million.
Diego Maradona in Boca Juniors
During this period of his career, Diego received offers from other clubs who promised to make him the highest paid footballer in the world, but he refused, because from childhood he dreamed of playing for Boca Juniors.
On February 22, 1981, Diego played his first game with Boca Juniors. The match took place against Talleres de Córdoba. The football player scored two goals out of four. In “Bokita”, as the team is affectionately called by the Argentines, he played for about a year, having spent 40 matches in this short time and scoring 28 goals.
El Diego in Europe
In the summer of 1982, partly due to disagreements with Boquita manager Silvio Marzolini, Diego decided to move to Barcelona. The club paid a then-record $5.6 million for the transfer.
With Maradona, Barcelona won the Spanish Cup and Super Cup, as well as El Clasico, the traditional competition between Barcelona and Real Madrid. After Diego scored a graceful but powerful goal against Real Madrid, the Argentine received a standing ovation from even the most loyal Real Madrid fans.
Diego Maradona at Barcelona
In the fall of 1983, the footballer fell ill with hepatitis, but continued to train, but soon ended up in a hospital bed due to an injury. After three months of therapy, the Argentine returned to the team. In just two seasons at Barcelona, he played 58 games and scored 38 goals.
In July 1984, Maradona moved to Napoli, setting a new transfer fee record of $10.5 million. It is believed that it was at Napoli that Diego reached the peak of his career. Moreover, having received the captain’s armband, he was able to raise the level of the club to the highest: under the leadership of Maradona, the team won a series of victories, including the Italian Championship, Italian Cup, UEFA Cup and others.
Diego Maradona – captain of Napoli
At the age of 18, Diego became the star of the 1979 FIFA World Youth Championship in Japan, scoring six goals in six matches of the tournament. Three years later, at the 1982 World Cup, he played for the Argentina national team, but the Argentines failed to achieve victory, which Diego explained by frequent conflict situations within the team and overall poor preparation.
In 1986, Maradona managed to raise the football prestige of his country and lead the Argentina national team to victory at the World Cup in Mexico. The world media noted that Maradona won this championship almost single-handedly, scoring a total of ten out of fourteen goals and receiving the Golden Ball.
Diego Maradona – World Champion 1986
It was after this championship that the expression “the hand of God” appeared. John Molinaro described the goal scored by Diego against the English national team as the greatest goal in the history of world football and called the skill of the Argentine footballer a true art.
Everything went downhill in 1990, at the World Championships. Maradona, who already had problems with drugs, suffered an ankle injury, and the Argentina national team lost the victory to the German national team.
The 1994 tournament, held in the USA, was the last for Diego in his international career, which lasted almost 17 years. After the first match, doping (ephedrine) was found in the blood of the famous Argentinean, which, as Maradona tried to explain, he took as a weight loss drug. The football player was disqualified until September 1995.
End of career
From 1995 to 1997, already, to put it mildly, the Argentine, who was not young by football standards, again played for Boca Juniors. During this period, he entered the field in 29 matches and scored 7 goals. On October 25, 1997, he played for the last time for his favorite club since childhood (but not the last one in principle!) – in a match against the Argentinean club River Plate.
The Maradona team won 2-1, but the player himself was injured and replaced by Juan Riquelme. After 5 days, Diego turned 38 years old.
On his 38th birthday, Diego Maradona announced his retirement
On November 11, 2001, Diego took part in the match, which the press called “Maradona’s farewell game.” The Argentina national team with his participation came out against the so-called World team. The game was watched by 60 thousand spectators, including the legendary football player Pele. Despite the extra weight, Diego felt like a fish in water on the field, and as a result, the Argentina national team beat the team of the best football players of our time and the past with a score of 6:3.
Scandals, drugs and health problems
During Diego’s collaboration with Napoli, the media repeatedly hinted at his connection with the Camorra, one of the oldest criminal organizations in Italy. At the end of the summer of 1989, a popular Italian publication published a photograph showing Maradona sitting in a huge oyster-shaped bathtub with mafiosi Carmine Giuliano, head of the Giuliano clan, who controlled the Forcella district, one of the most dangerous districts of Naples.
In his autobiographical book, Diego admitted that, like many sports and show business stars, he kept in touch with the Camorra bosses and even accepted gifts from them, for example, a luxurious and at that time the only Volvo-900 car in Italy, but participation in criminal fraud denies.
Diego Maradona with Carmine Giuliano
It was in Naples that Diego, who had only occasionally used cocaine before, began to take it constantly, and the Giuliano brothers supplied it to the football star, which was established by the investigation. Diego was also suspected of “draining” matches, because on the bets that were made on the victory of Napoli, the Camorrites earned a lot of money and were ready to sacrifice everything for them, even Maradona’s reputation.
Speaking on Italian television, Diego, in his usual manner, spoke obscenely about these rumors, but the fact remains: of the last five matches with Milan, Napoli won only one.
There were rumors that Maradona “leaked” the matches for the sake of the mafia, but he strongly denied this
Diego’s affair with cocaine lasted until 2004. The football player tried many times to get rid of the destructive passion and eventually got rid of it … by replacing the white powder with alcohol. However, he could keep his relationship with alcohol under control, despite his natural temper and denial of social norms. Drugs, scandals, alcohol, courts, full immersion in sports and chronic stress – all this could not but affect the health of the star. Diego was treated for hepatitis, underwent stomach surgery while battling obesity, and had a whole host of psychological problems.
In 2008, Diego, who repeatedly declared his desire to lead the Argentina national team, nevertheless achieved the position of head coach.
The first match of the Argentina national team with the new coach took place in Glasgow, where the Argentines won 1-0. Diego was the coach of his country’s national team for two years, after the defeat at the 2010 World Cup, the AFA leadership announced that it did not intend to renew the contract with him.
Diego Maradona as Commander-in-Chief of Argentina at the 2010 World Cup hugging Lionel Messi
Personal life of Diego Maradona
The first wife of the famous Argentine was Claudia Villafane. He met an attractive girl at a dance in 1977, and the marriage took place on November 7, 1984 in Buenos Aires. Three years later, Claudia gave her husband her first daughter, Dalma Nereya, and in 1989, her second daughter, Janina Dinora.
In 2004, Diego and Claudia divorced, but managed to remain on friendly terms. Even after their divorce, they appeared at public events together for a while and met at family reunions.
Diego Maradona with Claudia Villafagnier and daughters
It is known that Maradona has an illegitimate son, who was born to him during the Italian period. While playing for Napoli, Diego became romantically involved with Cristina Sinagra. In September 1986, she gave birth to a son and named the boy in honor of the famous father – Diego Armando.
In 1993, an Italian court established Maradona’s paternity, and his son, who inherited a passion for football, officially received the name Diego Armando Maradona Sinagra. In 2016, Maradona, who had previously avoided talking about his illegitimate son, publicly called Diego Jr. his son and declared that he loved him very much.
Diego Maradona with his son
In 2010, the Argentine met a young (she was younger than both of Diego’s daughters) Rocio Olive, but the relationship began only three years later. And already in 2014, Rocio said that Maradona is a domestic tyrant. In response, the football player sued her, accusing her of stealing a large sum.
Subsequently, they parted several times and converged again. In 2018, Rocío turned 28 years old. In honor of this event, Diego gave her an engagement ring and publicly called her his bride. The couple were together until the athlete’s death in November 2023.
Diego Maradona and Rocio Olive
Last years of life and death
At the beginning of 2023, the athlete’s doctor Leopol Luke expressed the opinion that the quarantine did not have the best effect on the health of his star patient: after an almost two-year break, he again began to abuse alcohol.
Diego Maradona died on November 25, 2023
Six months later, at the beginning of November 2023, Maradona was urgently hospitalized with a brain hemorrhage in a hospital in La Plata. There, he underwent an operation to remove a blood clot, and on November 11, the football player was discharged. Two weeks later, on November 25, 2023, Diego Maradona died of cardiac arrest.
On November 27, Diego was buried next to his parents – at the Bella Vista cemetery, located in the suburbs of Buenos Aires. The footballer’s relatives wanted to hold the funeral ceremony in the closest possible circle, but tens of thousands of fans also wanted to say goodbye to the legend. The funeral procession was accompanied by the police, the cemetery was cordoned off, and the fans who tried to break through were met with rubber bullets and tear gas. Throughout the day, clashes between the police and the citizens offended by such an attitude did not stop.
Farewell to Diego