On Wednesday 25th November, the soccer World went ablaze with the sad news of the untimely death of Argentina soccer legend Diego Armando Maradona, who has died aged 60 and reportedly succumbed to heart failure.
Heart failure is a chronic condition that gradually damages the heart’s ability to pump blood. It results from a Fluid that can built up in the lungs resulting to a condition known as pulmonary edema.
Maradona is regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the football whose name caught everyone’s attention after inspiring Argentina to the 1986 World Cup glory.
In the same tournament, he displayed a memorable performance against England where he scored a prolific goal with his hand that he later described as the “Hand of God.”
During the game, the diminitive and naturally gifted forward jumped high to beat goalkeeper legendary Peter Shilton and punched the ball into the net which was obviously a handball but the goal was counted as the center referee did not see the foul. This however was overshadowed by his second of the game, a run from inside his own half, beating 5 England players to slot home from close range, this would have made the bookmakers envious, in an era where betting and other gaming like the Canadian Casino was still developing.
Besides being “arguably” the Greatest Of All Times (G.O.A.T), Maradona’s career was full of controversies as his luxurious lifestyle led to alcoholism and drug addiction.
His Life on the pitch
Maradona began his professional career with Boca Juniors (Argentina) before joining Spanish giants Barcelona and later Napoli in Italy where he won two Serie A titles with the Italian side but had stints in Mexico and United Arab Emirates.
Maradona also played for Sevilla (Spain) and Newell’s Old Boys in his homeland alongside the senior national football team where he scored 34 goals in 91 appearances representing them in four World Cups.
Maradona led his country to the 1990 final in Italy, where they were beaten by West Germany, before captaining them again in the United States in 1994, but was sent home after failing a drugs test for ephedrine.
During his time at Napoli, he became addicted to drugs and struggled with addiction. In 1991, Maradona failed a drug test and received a 15-month ban from the game but all is attributed to his friendship with the Neapolitan mafia “Camorra”.
Barcelona was his first club he played for outside Argentina where he scored 22 goals in 36 appearances between 1982 and 1984 and later played for Napoli between 1984 and 1991 making 188 appearances.
He retired from professional football in 1997, on his 37th birthday, during his second stint at Argentine giants Boca Juniors.
Maradona was later appointed head coach of the national team in 2008 and left after the 2010 World Cup, where his side was beaten by Germany on the quarter-finals.
He subsequently managed teams in the United Arab Emirates and Mexico and was in charge of Gimnasia y Esgrima in Argentina’s top flight at the time of his death.
Life off the pitch
Maradona was a genius on the the pitch, though his life outside of it involving drugs, obesity, women and the mafia probably caused him health problems for the rest of his life.
In addition to being a footballing icon, Maradona developed a reputation for being a party animal, particularly during his time in Italy.
By the time he was playing for Napoli, he had a greater addiction, which started to interfere with his ability to play the sport he was now an icon of.
Maradona enlisted the services of the Camorra – a notorious mafia crew – who offered him protection in Naples whenever he could move around which was considered as one of the most dangerous cities in Europe at the time.
This served to indulge his habits of partying, taking hard drugs and enjoying the company of woman other than his wife – reportedly having multiple affairs.
After a phone call with a prostitute was tapped by the police in January 1991, charges were brought against Maradona for cocaine possession and distribution, and in April the same year a blood test found traces of the drug, leading to a 15-months ban from football.
From Italy, he fled to Argentina, but was arrested there for cocaine possession as well, with pictures from the time showing a tearful Maradona being led away by police.
In 2000, in what doctors said was a brush with death, he was hospitalized in the Uruguayan resort of Punta del Este with a heart that doctors said was pumping at less than half its capacity. Blood and urine samples turned up traces of cocaine.
After another emergency hospitalization in 2004, Maradona was counseled for drug abuse and in September of that year traveled to Cuba for treatment at Havana’s Center for Mental Health. There he was visited by his friend, Cuban President Fidel Castro.
In Cuba, Maradona took to playing golf and smoking cigars. He frequently praised Castro and Argentine-born revolutionary ‘Che’ Guevara, who fought with Castro in the Cuban revolution.
He later underwent surgery for a hernia in 2019, and on November 2, 2020, he was admitted to hospital to have brain surgery to remove a blood clot on the brain, and was released on November 12 after a successful surgery.
The Argentinian legend, widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, passed away at his home in Buenos Aires at the age of 60 on Wednesday after suffering a heart attack despite having had successful brain surgery earlier in November.
On Thursday 26th November, the Argentinian football legend, was buried in a small, private ceremony in Buenos Aires where only family members and close friends were permitted at Jardin Bella Vista cemetery next to the graves of his parents, Dalma and Diego.