BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) – Argentine football giant Diego Maradona died, scoring the “Hand of God” goal in 1986 and leading his country to this year’s world title before later battling cocaine use and obesity. He was 60 years old.
Maradona spokesman Sebastián Sanchi said he died of a heart attack on Wednesday, two weeks after he was released from a hospital in Buenos Aires after brain surgery.
The office of the president of Argentina said he would order a three-day national mourning, and the Argentine football association expressed his grief on Twitter.
One of the most famous moments in the history of the sport, the “Hand of God” goal came when the tiny Maradona hit the ball into England’s net in the eighth final of the 1986 World Cup. England said the ball came in from Maradona’s hand, not his head. Maradona himself gave contradictory accounts of what had happened over the years, at one point attributing the goal to divine intervention, the “hand of God”.
Before his 60th birthday in October, Maradona told France Football magazine that his dream was to “score another goal against the English, this time with his right hand.”
Maradona has captivated fans around the world over a two-decade career with such an immersive style of play.
Although his reputation was tarnished by his addictions and the fateful magic responsible for the national team, the football madman in Argentina idolized him as “Pibe de Oro” or “Golden Boy.”
“It took us to the top of the world,” Argentine President Alfredo Fernández said on social media. – It made us incredibly happy. You were the greatest of them all.
The number 10 on the jersey became synonymous with Pele, the great Brazilian with whom Maradona was regularly paired as the best of all time.
In a Brazilian statement, he said he had lost his “dear friend”.
“Much more needs to be said, but for the time being, give God strength to his family,” Pelé said. “I hope one day we play football together in the sky.”
Bold, fast and completely unpredictable, Maradona was the master of the attack, easily tricking the ball from one foot to the other while racing upwards. Pounding and weaving with his low center of gravity, he jerked his countless rivals and often scored a goal with a devastating left foot, his strongest weapon.
“Everything he thought in his head was made possible by his feet,” said Salvatore Bagni, who played with Maradona at the Italian club Napoli.
The balloon belt line slowed Maradona’s explosive speed later in her career, and by 1991 she was trapped in her first doping scandal when she admitted to being a cocaine addict that haunted her until her retirement at the age of 37 in 1997.
He was hospitalized in 2000 and then in ’04 for heart problems blamed for cocaine, later saying he had gotten over the drug problem. Cocaine, he once famously, proved to be “his toughest rival.”
But new health problems ensued, despite the fact that in 2005 the stomach was bypassed, which greatly curtailed its weight. Maradona was hospitalized in early 2007 for acute hepatitis, which her doctor blamed for excessive drinking and eating.
He is unlikely to return to the national team in 2008 when he was appointed coach of Argentina but was fired after leaving the quarterfinals at the 2010 South African World Cup – eventually taking another coaching position at the UAE’s Al Wasl club. .
Maradona was the fifth of eight children to grow up in a poor, grainy barrio on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, where he played a kind of dirty football that launched many Argentines into the international star world.
None of them approached Maradona’s reputation. In 2001, FIFA named Maradona the two largest in the history of the sport alongside Pelé.
“Maradona inspires us,” said Carlos Tevez, the Argentine striker at the time, and explained his country’s fascination with Maradona at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. – He is our idol and the idol of men.
Maradona won titles at home and abroad, playing for the Argentinos Juniors and Boca Juniors in the early 1980s before joining Spanish and Italian clubs. He crowned his result at the 1986 World Cup, was Argentina’s captain in his 3–2 victory over West Germany in the final, and played a decisive role in his 2–1 victory over England in a dimmed quarter-final match.
Due to the protest of the English goalkeeper Peter Shilton, the referee left Maradona’s goal, in which, as he admitted years later, he deliberately hit his hand “a little badly” with the ball.
But Maradona’s impact would not be limited to fraud. Four minutes later, he spectacularly woven four opponents from midfield to defeat Shilton, for which FIFA later declared the biggest goal in World Cup history.
Many Argentines saw their country as revenge for the loss to Britain in the 1982 war against the Falkland Islands, which Argentines still call “Las Malvinas”.
“That was our method of restoring‘ Las Malvinas, ’” Maradona wrote in his 2000 autobiography, “I’m Diego”.
“It was more than winning a game. We said the game had nothing to do with the war. But we knew that the Argentines died there, that they were killed like birds. And that was our revenge. There was something bigger than us: we defended our flag.
It was also a justification for Maradona, who later called the “greatest tragedy” of her career out of the 1978 World Cup – which Argentina won at home – because she was only 17 years old.
Maradona said he received a soccer ball shortly after the run.
“I was 3 years old and slept all night hugging that ball,” he said.
At the age of 10, Maradona gained a reputation for performing half-time in professional matches, deceiving crowds by keeping the ball in the air with her legs, chest and head for minutes. He also made his debut with the Argentinos Juniors youth team, which led the mostly 14-year-old youth in 136 unsuccessful matches.
“Seeing him play was pure happiness, real stardom,” said teammate Carlos Beltran.
Maradona played for the first-class Argentine Juniors club from 1976-81, then went to the Boca Juniors team for a year before heading to Barcelona for a world record of $ 8 million.
In 1984, Barcelona sold it to Naples, Italy. He transformed his fortune almost alone and took him to the 1987 Italian Championship for his first title in 60 years.
A year after losing the 1990 World Cup final in West Germany, Maradona moved to Spain’s Seville club, but his career was in decline. He played five matches for Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina in 1994 and then returned to Boca from 1995-97 – the last club and closest to his heart.
Drug problems overshadowed the years of the last game.
Maradona failed a doping test in 1991 and was banned for 15 months, acknowledging her long-term cocaine addiction. He failed another stimulant test because of the stimulants and was thrown out of the 1994 U.S. World Cup.
In his retirement, Maradona often attended Boca matches as a one-on-one cheer and attended charity, sports and exhibition events around the world. But the already stocky attacker gained weight quickly and was clearly short of breath when he was torn apart in friendly matches.
In 2000, doctors said it was a deadly brush, he was hospitalized at the Punta del Este resort in Uruguay with a heart that doctors said pumped less than half its capacity. Blood and urine samples revealed traces of cocaine.
After another emergency hospital treatment in 2004, Maradona was counseled for drug abuse and traveled to Cuba in September of the same year for treatment at the Mental Hygiene Center in Havana. There he was visited by his friend, Cuban President Fidel Castro.
In Cuba, Maradona started golfing and smoking cigars. He often praised Castro and Argentine-born revolutionary “Che” Guevara, who fought Castro during the Cuban Revolution — even with a Guevara tattoo on his right arm.
Maradona said she was cleaned of drugs there and started a new chapter.
In 2005, he underwent a stomach bypass in Colombia, losing nearly 50 pounds (over £ 100) before acting as a wildly popular Argentine television talk show host. On “Night 10,” Maradona walked around with a ball of Pele, interviewed boxer Mike Tyson and Hollywood celebrities, and had a long conversation with Castro in Cuba.
In his retirement, Maradona also became more outspoken. He often tore up his former coaches, players – including Pelé – and the Pope. In 2005, he joined a left-wing protest train at the America’s Summit, with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez standing by to announce the presence of then-President George W. Bush.
His external status made him even more surprising when he was elected Argentine coach after the resignation of Alfio Basile.
He won his first three games, but his tactics, selection and attention to detail were all called into question after a match he lost 6-1 to Bolivia in the World Cup qualifiers was equal to Argentina’s worst defeat ever.
Victor Hugo Morales, Argentina’s most popular football broadcaster, said Maradona will ultimately remember an exciting style of play that was never repeated.
“He was one of the greatest artists of my age. Like the great masters of music and painting, he defied our intellect and enriched the human spirit. ”Morales said. “No one was more excited and left in the same fear as Diego.
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