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Diego Maradona

Full Name: Diego Armando Maradona
Birth Date: 30/10/1960
Birth Nation: Argentina
Nationality: Argentinian
Position: Forward

International Caps: 91
International Goals: 31
Club Honours: Argentine League (1981 with Boca Juniors)
Copa Del Ray (1983 with Barcelona)
2 Italian League
titles (1987 and 1990 both with SSC Napoli)
Italian Cup (1987 with SSC Napoli)
UEFA Cup (1989 with Napoli)
Italian Super Cup (1991 with Napoli)
International Honours: 1979 FIFA World Youth Championship winner
1986 FIFA World Cup winner
1993 Artemio Franchi Trophy

Individual Honours: 1988 Italian League top scorer
1979, 1981, 1986 Argentine Football Writers' Footballer of the Year
1979, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1992 South American Footballer of the Year (El Mundo, Caracas)
1986 Argentine Sports Writers' Sportsman of the Year
1986 Golden Ball for Best Player of the FIFA World Cup
1986 European Footballer of the Year (France Football)
1986-1987 Best Footballer in the World (Once)
1986 World Player of the Year (World Soccer Magazine)
1996 Golden Ball for services to football (France Football)
1999 Argentine Sports Writers' Sportsman of the Century
2000 "FIFA best football player of the century", people's choice.
2002 "FIFA Goal of the Century" (1986 (2-1) v. England; second goal)
2005 Argentine Senate "Domingo Faustino Sarmiento" recognition for lifetime achievement.

Maradona is considered the greatest footballer of all time by some, to others he is too contraversial to hold that title.

Maradona's first team was Los Cebollitas, he first tried out for them in December 1970 at the age of 10. They were a junior team belonging to Argentinos Juniors. He was a revelation and the watching coaches were convinced that he must be a dwarf not a boy to show such skill.

In time the trainer, Francis Cornejo, found himself saying that Diego was actually older than he was. Maradona was soon playing as a sub for the U-14 sides, at the age of 11, and being the best player on the pitch. "How is it that you keep such a phenomenon in reserve?" a rival coach once asked. But Cornejo just smiled.

Cebollotas went for 136 matches unbeaten with Maradona unquestionably the star player. Though an early match report did, in error, record him as Caradona.

River Plate made its interest in the young star public and even approached his father, don Diego, about signing the youngster. But he was told: "No, no, thanks, Dieguito is very happy playing at Argentinos".

He used to do ball-juggling acts at half time to amuse the Argentinos Juniors crowds during his Cebollitos days. Maradona, and the rest of the youngsters, used to work as ball boys on match days, one day his coach, Francis Cornejo, gave him a ball and told him to play. The crowd loved it and chanted his name.

Diego finally made his long-awaited first team debut for Argentinos Juniors in October 1976 and continued to play for them until 1981.

Maradona made his Argentina debut at the age of 16 in a match versus Hungary. Two years later he was the star of the World Youth Championships as Argentina won it, 3-1 in the final against USSR, though he was disappointed not to of made the senior squad for the 1978 World Cup.

Diego moved to the club he supported, Boca Juniors, in 1981 and finished the season there, then played the full 1981/2 season with them winning the Argentine League and securing his place in the 1982 World Cup squad.

Argentina were the defending champions but got off to a bad start with a 1-0 defeat to Belgium. They came back to beat Hungary and El Salvador to reach the second round.

Unfortunately defeats to eventual winners Italy and big rivals Brazil (where Diego received a red card for kicking an opponent) saw them exit the Cup at the second stage.

European clubs had seen enough of the young Argentinian genius to entice them to enquire about him. Maradona joined Spanish giants Barcelona, where, in 1983, he won the Copa del Ray beating Real Madrid in the final.

Unfortunately things took a change for the worse with Diego suffering a bout of hepatitis. Then an ugly 'tackle' (maybe it would be better referred to as an assault!!) by the self-styled 'Butcher of Bilbao', Athletic Blibao's Andoni Goikoetxea nearly ended his career.

Maradona amazingly returned to the pitch in 14 weeks, though it is said during this time he was introduced to the drug that blighted his later career when he suffered an addiction to it, cocaine.

Off the pitch Diego and the Barca directors, in particular then club president Josep Lluis Nunez, bickered regularly leading to the Argentinian to request a transfer.

Italian Serie A club SSC Napoli snapped him up in the hope that his genius could transform them. Their faith in him was well-founded.

Napoli finally secured the Serie A title, not just once but twice, (1986/7 and 1989/90) and were runners-up in the two years between (1987/8 and 1998/9). In this, the club's most successful era, Napoli also secured the Coppa Italia (1987), UEFA Cup (1989) and the Italian Supercup (1990).

In 1986 Maradona dominated the World Cup with, not just his amazing ability, but also his controversial side. He scored two never-to-be-forgotten goals against England in the quarter-finals which neatly summed up Diego's career.

The first was a clear handball to put the ball past England's keeper, Peter Shilton, though it must be said that Shilton should still should of claimed the ball easily ahead of the far smaller Argentine. But the second can only be called a work of art. Diego beat 5 English players as he ran half the length of the pitch, before beating Peter Shilton to score a magnificent goal.

In 2002 his second goal was voted Goal of the Century in an online poll conducted by the FIFA website.

Diego led the team to victory with a 3-2 win over West Germany in the final to lift the World Cup.

In 1988 Maradona took part in an invitional game at Wembley Stadium to mark the Football League's centenary as part of a Rest of the World XI. He was roundly booed and jeered by the crowd who still hadn't forgiven him for the handball goal that has become known as the 'Hand of God' goal (due to Maradona describing it as "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God"). Diego even received death threats while he was in England.

In 1990 Maradona was captain of the Argentina side that again reached the World Cup finals and again they faced West Germany. This time they lost 1-0 to a highly questionable penalty scored in the 85th minute.

In Napoli Diego faced a scandal over an illegitimate son and his friendship with local mafia. He also received a 15 month ban after testing positive for cocaine.

Maradona then joined Sevilla (1992-3), Newell's Old Boys (1993), Mandiyu (1994 where he was also coach), Racing Club (where again Diego was coach 1995) and then a return to his beloved Boca Juniors in 1995.

Maradona made it to the 1994 World Cup in the USA but only made 2 appearances before failing a drugs test for ephedrine. The problem coming, according to Maradona, when the sports drink, Rip Fuel, that he drank in Argentina containing ephedrine in the US. While ephedrine is banned in football the stimulant is widely used in US sports explaining why Rip Fuel contained small amounts of it in the US but not in Argentina.

Diego was expelled from the World Cup by FIFA and Argentina suffered badly and went home in the second round.

In 1997 Maradona retired from football.

In 2000, Maradona published his autobiography Yo Soy El Diego ("I am The Diego"), which became an instant bestseller in his home country. In the same year FIFA conducted an internet poll to find the Player of the Century, which Maradona won. FIFA immediately appointed a "Football Family" committee, which voted to elect Pele to the title. Two awards were given, one to each player.

2001 saw a request by the Argentinian FA to retire the number 10 jersey in homage to Maradona. FIFA denied the request.

On December 26th 2003 Argentinos Juniors named their stadium after Maradona.

In June 2005 he returned to Boca Juniors as sports vice-president. Diego was the one who decided to hire Alfio Basile as the new coach. Boca went on to win the 2005 Apertura title, the 2006 Clausura title, the 2005 Copa Sudamericana and the 2005 Recopa Sudamericana.

On 15 August 2005, Maradona made his debut as host of a talk-variety show on Argentine television, La Noche del 10 ("The Night of the no. 10"). His main guest on opening night was Pele; the two had a friendly chat, showing no signs of past differences.

These days Maradona is well known for his anti-imperialist sentiments, even going so far as wearing a 'Stop Bush' t-shirt while protesting George W. Bush's presence at the 2005 Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Maradona referred to Bush as 'human garbage'.

Official Website: (English language version)

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