Diego Maradona: biography
Diego was born in a small provincial town Lanús, the suburban area of Buenos Aires, on October 30, 1960, into a family of an ordinary worker Diego Maradona and housekeeper Dalma Franco. Diego Maradona was the fifth child in the family and the first boy in the family. The would-be soccer star spent his childhood in the Argentinian ghetto where he learned how to play soccer with his yard friends. Maradona’s family was poor, so he had to engage himself in simple entertainment activities of those living in the outskirts.
On Diego’s seventh birthday, his cousin gave him his first relatively good soccer ball. This wonderful present marked the beginning of the great soccer player Diego Maradona’s future career.
Diego’s father taught the boy to clear the ball, kick with the left leg, and keep on the soccer field while controlling the ball. Since the young talent was left-handed, he was particularly good at “left” kicks. He often took part in the yard matches as a libero – it was only later that Diego became a forward.
When Diego turned 8, he was noticed by the Argentinos Juniors recruiter and offered to play for the junior team “Los Cebollitas” (“The Little Onions”).
The team members entertained the audience between matches and provided soccer players with balls during the game. Diego was the youngest one in “Los Cebollitas” but he was notable for his particular technique and stability which made him the leader among others.
The coach Francisco Cornejo called the boy “the tumbler toy” because he did not fall even after strong balls on his legs. After the match with the acting Argentinian junior champion team River Plate, Maradona was seen as the future star of the Argentinian soccer. In the match, Diego’s team won: the score was 7:1. It is peculiar that the young player scored 5 goals out of 7; he was only 10 at that time.
Since 12, Maradona played for the Argentinian juniors. In spite of his success, his family was as poor as before; moreover, it was larger since Diego’s mother gave birth to three children.
In 1976, Diego appeared on the soccer field as the member of Argentinos Juniors; in November of the same year, the player scored his first significant goal in his career. In his first adult team, the player spent 5 seasons and transferred to another club, Boca Juniors, in 1981. In August, Boca became the Argentinian champion in 1981 Metropolitano.
In summer 1982, the Spanish Barcelona bought Diego Maradona for $7.5 million which was a transfer record at that time. Still, the player had to miss many games because of a trauma. In 1983, he took part in important matches: Supercopa de España, Copa del Rey, and Copa de la Liga where his team became the leader due to Maradona’s contribution.
Overall, the soccer player spent 2 seasons in Spain and scored 38 goals in 58 games. Although later Diego called this time “not the best period,” the 1999 survey among the Spanish demonstrated that people viewed the sportsman as the best player of the club after Johan Cruyff and László Kubala. Thus, the Spanish period was no failure in Maradona’s career.
Maradona had to face bad luck: he had hepatitis, traumas, and conflicts with the club leader. After another argument between emotional Diego and the club president, the player wanted to buy out his contract and leave the team. This is where the Italian Napoli came in.
Peak of the career
Maradona’s transfer to Napoli provoked a public outcry: the transfer cost was $10 million. More than 70 thousand people attended the ceremony of introduction; Maradona became people’s icon. This time is considered to be the most important period of the sportsman’s career: his best goals were scored in this club. The results of the 7 seasons in Napoli are as follows:
- Two Scudettos were won – it was the non-precedential case that nobody has ever repeated again;
- UEFA Europa League victory;
- The second and the third places in Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana;
- Diego became the best attacking player in the history of Napoli.
However, in March 1991, the drug test revealed positive results; the player was suspended from the game for 15 months. Maradona did not go back to Napoli after the disqualification term was over and moved to Spanish Sevilla. He played there for a season, had a conflict with the coach, and quitted.
Later on, the Argentinian switched to Newell's Old Boys and played there 5 matches only. Notable for his hot temper, Maradona did not find the common language with the coach Jorge Castillo and had to leave the team. After the infamous shooting journalists with the air rifle, Diego was imprisoned and, obviously, could not play soccer.
Boca Juniors and the end of the career
After a year and a half break, Maradona came back to soccer. In Boca Juniors, he played about 30 matches and won back his fans’ favor due to several wonderful games.
Unfortunately, the new drug test results were positive again, and the sportsman was disqualified. Cocaine and doping were found in Maradona’s blood. After that, Maradona returned to soccer for a while, yet an injury made him end his career soon.
In 1997, several days before his 37th birthday, Diego Armando Maradona appeared on the soccer field as a player for the last time.
“Hand of God”
This nickname took root after the legendary match with the English when Diego scored a goal by his hand in front of thousands of viewers. Everybody except for the referee noticed the mistake; the goal was counted.
The soccer community, especially Argentinian fans, will hardly ever forget this game – they became the champions in that year. Maradona justified his action and said it was not his hand – it was the hand of God Himself. Since that moment, the phrase “hand of God” became common, and it is associated with Diego Maradona.
Skills and achievements
Maradona’s playing technique was notable for many uncharacteristic peculiarities: rolling the ball at high speed, flick-ups, outmaneuvering opponents. Due to his skills obtained in his childhood, Diego had an accurate pass and left-leg and penalty kicks. He could kick from any position, score goals with his head, and do various feints; all these techniques made his style unique and unbeatable.
As he could see the field, he could perform goal passes. Fighting was his power: even if he lost the ball, he would not leave the opponent alone until the ball was not back on his territory. The wonderful movement coordination gave him the opportunity to maneuver among other players and balance himself when necessary.
Many experts believe that Maradona’s playing helped his team take a quantum leap in terms of soccer quality.
Long before Maradona finished his player’s career, he became a coach. When he was disqualified in 1994, the ban touched upon playing soccer only, so the sportsman decided to try himself in the sphere of coaching.
He debuted in the little-known club “Deportivo Mandiyu” but this experience ended when Diego fought one of the club owners. For a season, Maradona coached Racing Club de Avellaneda, but there was little progress.
Despite his failures, Maradona managed to become the coach of the Argentinian national team in 2008. He worked for 2 years only but proved himself to be a decent professional. Although the team did not win FIFA World Cup 2010 as the German team defeated them (0:4), Maradona was satisfied with his mentees’ results.
After the World Cup, the Argentine Football Association decided not to extend the contract with Maradona.
After the one-year break, Maradona was offered to coach Al-Wasl from UAE. With Maradona, the club did not achieve great results but was often involved in scandals. Because of his temper, Maradona was to leave the position of the team’s coach prior to the scheduled date.
Hobbies and interests
Maradona’s plastique, movement accuracy, and perfect coordination gave him the chance to be good at dancing. In the dance program translated by the Italian channel RAI, Diego debuted as a dancer but had to stop participating because of some problems with the Italian authorities.
In 2000, the legendary soccer player wrote the autobiography “I am The Diego.” Two years later, he released the song “Hand of God.” All profits were donated to the Argentinian hospital for poor children.
In 2008, the famous Serbian director Emir Kusturica created the movie “Maradona.” In this project, the iconic director tried to explain the phenomenon of Diego Maradona in an artistic way.
Diego has always been known for his support of leaders like Hugo Chávez, Néstor Kirchner, and Fidel Castro – the left-winged politicians. He used to have a Che Guevara tattoo on his right shoulder and a Fidel tattoo on his leg. He called himself “a person of the people.”
Had Maradona planned to run for some high-ranking political position, these views would have been useful for him. However, the reputation of the emotional and aggressive player of the political and sports fields was always causing him problems.
It is difficult for many people to imagine the impulsive and restless Maradona as a bureaucrat signing documents. Thus, his figure is likely to remain symbolic in the sphere of politics.
Drugs and health issues
The infamous drug tail that Maradona had since his playing for Barcelona caused health problems. At that time, the sportsman explained his addiction by the necessity to fit in the new environment and feel comfortable there. Later on, the player tried to get rid of his addiction in Argentinian and Cuban clinics.
In 2000, Maradona had a hypertensic crisis because of arrhythmia. People from Maradona’s circle denied that was related to his drug abuse and stated the crisis occurred due to heart issues and nerve strain. After the treatment, Diego went to Cuba where he had a rehabilitation course in a closed clinic.
In April 2004, Maradona had a heart attack. His overweight and drug addiction were the main reasons. After the recovery, Diego’s weight was 120 kg. In the photos of those times, one could see an extremely overweight person: it was hardly possible to recognize the soccer player who used to be fit. Taking into account the sportsman’s height (165 cm.), this weight was critical.
Diego Maradona managed to pull himself up; after the gastric bypass surgery and special dieting, he lost 50 kg.
In 2004, the soccer legend stated he had shaken off his drug dependence for his daughters. It looked like he did do so, but in 2007, he was hospitalized because of alcohol intoxication. His liver was in the critical condition, but he also managed to get over this unpleasant situation with minimum loses.
The bright soccer leader gained his fame not only for his brilliant playing but also big scandals.
The greatest scandals involving Diego are as follows:
- “Hand of God” is probably the biggest scandal in the history of soccer that took place in 1986 in Mexico. 22 years later, Maradona repented of his actions when he scored with his hand and apologized. The goal was counted by the referee.
- Fights. The final game of the Coppa Italia was marked with the real sports battle where the players of both teams including Diego took part. The sportsman was disqualified for three months.
- Drugs. During drug tests, the sportsman was caught red-handed twice. In the second time, the traces of five components of various drug substances were registered.
- Shooting journalists. The paparazzi that were watching Maradona’s windows were shot from an air rifle. All four journalists had minor injuries; Diego was sentenced to 2 years of prison.
Maradona’s relations with reporters were special: he frequently fought with them, broke their car windows, and destroyed their gadgets. 2006 was marked with several scandals: Maradona was accused of tax default and car accident organization that led to several people’s injury.
Besides, Maradona broke down a young woman’s head: she said something about his daughter. As a result, the victim had ten stitches; Diego had to go to the court.
No matter how complicated the relations with the press were, Maradona tried himself in this sphere several times. As he finished his soccer career, he worked as a sports expert in special programs or commentator of sports competitions. Diego often commented on the FIFA World Cup 2002 games; in 2006, he commented on the championship matches in Germany.
In 2005, Maradona was the host of the popular program “La Noche del 10” where he interviewed famous people (Mike Tyson, Fidel Castro, Anatoly Karpov). In 2005, the program won the Best Entertainment Show Award which made Maradona the person of the year.
Officially, Diego was married only once: Maradona and his wife Claudia Villafañe lived together for 25 years. Young Diego was 17 when he dared to invite the girl Claudia to dance. Several days later, he introduced her to his parents.
The couple did not marry at once: Maradona made a proposal only after the couple’s second daughter was born in 1989. The first daughter was born the year before. The wedding ceremony took place at the Estadio Luna Park (Buenos Aires) and cost $2 million. More than 1500 guests visited the ceremony.
After ten years of the family life, Maradona left home; five years later, Claudia filed for divorce. Nevertheless, the ex-spouses managed to remain friends. Claudia even worked as the former player’s agent.
The legendary player’s private life has always been as interesting as his career. After the divorce, Maradona was seeing a PE teacher Verоnica Ojeda who gave birth to their son. Diego recognized the boy only a month later and broke up with Veronica.
There were many legends about the soccer player’s love affairs even at the Barcelona period. He was accused of transferring Argentinian prostitutes to Italy, and the brothel owner was allegedly selling slaves together with Diego. Some people claimed Maradona had five lovers per day when he was playing in Napoli. However, this information was only a rumor: there was no confirmation or refutation.
Today, Maradona is dating 25-year old model Rocio Oliva. He had even a plastic surgery so that he looked younger for her. Still, there has been no marriage even though the man proposed to Oliva. Thus, Claudia Villafañe has been Maradona’s only wife by now.
In the marriage with Claudia, Diego had two daughters, Giannina and Dalma. Overall, the former soccer player has five children. In 1996, Valeria Sabalian gave birth to the daughter; Maradona did not want to recognize her, yet the DNA test revealed the girl was Diego’s daughter, so he had to pay alimony. In a similar way, Maradona did not recognize his extramarital son from Verоnica Ojeda at once.
Not long ago, the press reported that Maradona recognized his son Diego who was born in 1986 at last. At that time, the player denied he was the father and decided to meet his son only 29 years later. He officially recognized him and emphasized they were similar.
In 2016, Claudia Villafañe decided to suit Maradona because of the new facts related to his bastard children. Villafañe’s lawyer claims his client had suffered a lot because of Diego’s unfaithfulness; besides, another 15-year-old boy is probably Maradona’s son.
Both acts of cheating occurred when the couple was married which gives Claudia the right to apply for compensation. Even if the new boy is not Maradona’s child, the former wife will not stop the process. All these stories made Claudia suffer so she is determined to compensate it.
- The legendary soccer player’s debt to the Italian tax authorities is about $40 million. As Maradona crosses the Italian border, he is deprived of some things. Earlier, the police confiscated the expensive Rolex watch (2006), later (2009), they took his earring and auctioned it.
- Maradona is not purely Argentinian: his ancestors emigrated to the country from Italy. He has also some Croatian roots. All in all, his genealogical tree is not complete yet.
- According to the FIFA survey, 53% of respondents consider Maradona the best soccer player of the 20th century. Still, this honorable title was given to Pelé. Maradona was outrageous and said he would challenge this decision in courts. As a result, he was named the best soccer player together with Pelé.
- When the player transferred to Napoli, all statues of the city were dressed in T-shirts with number 10 – the number Diego had. The pizza “Maradona” was the hit. This reception was not accidental: the three victorious goals followed which was the first achievements in the history of the club.
- The Napoli authorities presented Maradona with Ferrari F -40 since he rejected the offer of the infamous Silvio Berlusconi who could have given Maradona a good contract and an apartment in the center of Milan. Diego was the member of Napoli and rejected the alluring proposal which was marked by the club.
Throughout his career, the soccer player was named the best forward, the best World Cup player, and the author of the best goal; he also received many “best” titles in other categories pertaining to soccer. Despite numerous scandals and controversies, this person is a mysterious phenomenon, unique personality, and living legend.
Maradona often apologized for his sins but claimed he never discredited the honor of the soccer ball. Today, people watch every public appearance of the former player: everybody is waiting what Maradona may do this time.