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Diego Armando Maradona’s life came to an end last Wednesday, after suffering acute heart failure, which ended up being fatal, leaving a generation of soccer lovers orphaned. El Pelusa was an idol for millions of people who revered one of the best players to ever step on the green of a pitch, but one of the worst who stood outside of it.
Maradona had a life of extremes, of lights and shadows, day and night, and starred in the best and worst of a footballer. However, he leaves an unparalleled legacy, for good and for bad, in 60 years that gave him for everything.
The legend of the pipe his debut
Diego debuted on October 20, 1976 in professional football with Argentinos Juniors, in a match against Talleres, when he was still only fifteen years old. However, his quality with ‘the onions’ raised him early to the Argentine first division. Montes, the coach who made Maradona debut, had such confidence in him that his words before it was released were “play as you know and if you can throw a pipe.”
Said and done, since in the first ball he touched, Maradona made a pipe to his rival, or at least, that is the story that transcended, before a game without video and with an image, that of the pipe. However, the Ten admitted years later that it was not the first … but the third that he tried.
His only title with Boca Juniors
Maradona was not a player who stood out for his record, since in his entire career he barely won three leagues, but one of them was with the team of his loves. It was in the 1981 season, the same one in which he arrived at the xeneize team, where he was already considered the best player in Argentina, with a worldwide projection that seemed stellar.
Their debut in blue and yellow was precisely against Talleres, in a match in which they won 4-2 … with two goals from Diego.
Applauded by the Bernabéu and faced with Athletic
In his short first stage in Spain with FC Barcelona, Maradona was the undoubted protagonist of more than one encounter causing nightmares in rivals. However, their confrontations against two in particular are remembered: Real Madrid and Athletic Club. Against the whites, an anthological goal in the 1983 League Cup, in which he received a pass from Lobo Carrasco, dribbled the goalkeeper, leaving him on the ground, waited for a defender to arrive to knock him down and finish scoring at will . “She broke her balls against the post and I pushed her inside. Then I asked her forgiveness and she sent me to shit,” Maradona said in his day.
Against Athletic the story was different, since the episodes he starred in were rather negative. The first, as the victim of a criminal kick from Goikoetxea that destroyed his ankle and kept him off the playground for several months. Shortly after, the Argentine took revenge in the Copa del Rey final, starting an embarrassing tangana once the meeting ended.
Consecration in Naples
The legend of Maradona, beyond his World Cup, was enshrined in his time in Naples, a very humble team in the eighties, which miraculously managed to land one of the best players in the world. Maradona had an unprecedented impact on the Italian city, winning the most important titles in the club’s history that have placed him as the team he is today.
Two Serie A, a Coppa Italia, a Super Cup of Italy and a UEFA Cup, all in the most brilliant era of Italian football, with players of the stature of Baresi or Gullit in Milan, or Platini in Juventus.
Mexico ’86: ‘The hand of God’, ‘The goal of the century’ and world champion
Mexico will always have a place in the heart of Maradona. El Pelusa went down in history thanks to his performance in the 1986 World Cup held in the Central American country, where he was the leader of the Argentine team to place a second star on their shield. However, one match stands out above all others: the quarter-finals against England.
Only four years after the Falklands war, Maradona took his revenge on the pitch and did it in style, with the two most famous goals in history. Argentina started ahead with the first of the two goals after a play that begins on the Diez, which continues with a high ball divided between him and Peter Shilton, and which ends with Maradona scoring the goal with his hand to the protests of the English.
Minutes later Maradona repeated and signed what is considered the best goal in history to this day and was dubbed ‘The Goal of the Century’. He picked up the ball in his own field, near the dividing line, and progressed to the rival goal, leaving up to six players behind, including the goalkeeper, to finish scoring at will and seal the pass to the World Cup semifinal.
‘Live is Life’ and the most famous warm-up in history
Munich Olympic Stadium, 1989 UEFA Cup semi-finals, Bayern against Naples, still a virgin in Europe. A match that for anyone would be nervous and tense, taking into account what is at stake. Anyone except Maradona.
El Pelusa jumped onto the field showing calm, with his classic boots untied, and when Opus’s ‘Live is Life’ sounded on the PA, his show began. Diego danced to the rhythm of the music, smiled, tapped and played tricks with the ball, as if it were not the thing with him. They ended up eliminating Bayern to later win the cup that same year.
United States ’94 and ‘the White Widow’
Perhaps the lowest point of his career was in the last game with the Argentine team. Between the celebration of a comeback against Nigeria, in the second game of the 1994 World Cup, with goals from Caniggia and Diego, a lady from the medical staff, Sue Carpenter, enters the green to take Maradona out of his hand and take him for a check doping, for which he tested positive. 15-month suspension that he felt as if “his legs were cut off”, which practically cost him his retirement, despite returning at the end of 1995 to play two more seasons in Boca and say goodbye to football.
“The ball does not get dirty”
A phrase that marked a before and after for football lovers, since it seemed that Maradona had left all his bad habits behind with this statement. It was at a tribute match in 2001 in a packed Bombonera in front of thousands of fans. “Because you make a mistake, you don’t have to pay for football. I was wrong and I paid, but the ball is not stained”
“Soccer is the most beautiful and healthiest sport in the world. There is no doubt about that. Because you make a mistake, you don’t have to pay for soccer. I was wrong and I paid, but the ball is not stained.” ❤️😢
You will be eternal, Diego. pic.twitter.com/uToTwnAT3D
– ESPN Argentina (@ESPNArgentina) November 25, 2020
“Suck it, keep sucking it”
Perhaps Maradona’s most explosive press conference was after Argentina achieved the fateful qualification for the 2010 World Cup, achieved nothing more and nothing less than Uruguay. Diego exploded before the microphones for all the criticism he had received as a coach, with words that generated a huge controversy.
“For those who did not believe, with pardon the ladies, let them suck her. Let them continue sucking her. I am black or white, I will not be gray in life. You treated me as you are treating me. Keep sucking”
Celebrations in Russia 2018
One of the most surprising images that he left could be seen at the World Cup in Russia, in which it was his last great controversy due to his state. Maradona left a real spectacle in the stands celebrating Argentina’s victory over Nigeria so that they would remain alive in the competition, with all kinds of shouts and gestures, until he ended up needing help to walk out of the stadium.