Diego Maradona, thru number 10 in Argentina’s team, is back on the field, only this time as a coach. Argentina is more than fortunate to have him as their coach. With his experience and his knowledge of the sport, it is very likely that Argentina will win the FIFA World Cup, 2010.
One can safely assert that Maradona is one of the best football players ever. In the year 2000, Maradona shared the FIFA Player of The Century award with Pele. Yet, even one of the world’s most celebrated players is not that beacon of light he is expected to be. So what made this player so revered by the world?
Born on 30th October, 1960, Buenos Aires, Maradona entered the world of football at the age of 10, when a talent scout spotted him playing in the neighborhood club Estrella Roja. He made his professional debut in 1976 playing for Argentinos Juniors. His talent with the ball did not go unnoticed. It was an instant path to fame for this footballer and every club wanted him on their side.
He played for Boca Juniors (1981) for a year followed by a transfer to the Barcelona Club where he was instrumental in helping them win the Copa del Rey against Real Madrid and the Spanish Super Cup against Athletic de Bilbao in 1983. However due to constant disputes with the club’s president, Maradona was transferred to Napoli and it was here that he was at the peak of his career.
Maradona brought the club their only victory in the Serie A Italian Championships in 1986/87 and 1989/90 and second place in the years 1987/88 and 1988/89. Besides these Maradona also brought other victories to the club which included Coppa Italia in 1987, UEFA Cup in 1989 and the Italian Supercup in 1990. This was followed by his less victorious years with Sevilla from 1992-93, Newell’s Old Boys in 1993 and finally back to Boca Juniors in 1995.
On the international front Maradona played for his country in four consecutive World Cups (1982, 1986, 1990 and 1994).
In his first World Cup, 1982, Maradona played in all the five games that Argentina played without being substituted, scoring twice against Hungary. He was disqualified and sent off five minutes before the game with Brazil ended, due to foul play.
In the 1986 World Cup, Maradona was made captain and led his country to victory against West Germany. However, winning the Cup was not the only thing that made Maradona a living legend. In the quarter-finals, Maradona scored the two goals in a 2-1 victory against England. These two goals are remembered as the” Hand of God” and the “Goal of the Century”. The first goal,”Hand of God”, earned its name as it was an unpenalized handball; while the second goal,” Goal of the Century”, earned its name as Maradona scored the goal after running through six English players, including the goal-keeper, 60 meters away from the goal. That year Maradona also went home carrying the Golden Ball award for the tournament’s best player.
The 1990 World Cup was a disappointment for the Argentinians who just barely made it through the first round of the tournament. Although led by Maradona as captain, Argentina lost to West Germany in the finals without much contribution from Maradona in the field. The ankle injury he had received in that year is much to blame for his weak performance in the World Cup.
It was the 1994 World Cup that brought this player down from the level of the gods to the level of a common man. After playing only two games and scoring only one goal against Greece, Maradona was sent home on account of failing a drug test for ephedrine doping.
Indeed while Maradona’s career playing for his country ended disgracefully, his overall contribution cannot be ignored. The total goals he has scored for Argentina in the World Cups is 34 making him the country’s second-highest goal scorer in World Cup finals. From this outstanding career, one cannot deny that he has indeed earned the title of Player of the Century.
If the stats are still not that convincing, then one only needs to watch a match or two played by this star to actually realize his true sportsmanship. His ability to handle the ball while dribbling and at the same time tease his opponents cannot be matched till date. His small stature is no hindrance to him. In fact, it aided him in avoiding his opponents’ defenses even through narrow spaces. In the field Maradona has the agility of a cheetah. The “Goal of the Century” is evidence enough of this.
His is the story of a common man who rose from rags to riches but with a will not strong enough to keep his fame afloat. Born in a poor family, yet with the God-given talent which helped him rise to wealth and fame, Maradona lost his way, abusing his wealth by his cocaine and alcohol addictions. Controversy after controversy followed him due to drug and alcohol abuse, which almost led to his death more than once.
There came a point in time when the world’s most loved footballer, a role model for aspiring footballers, became the most hated and scorned. However, Maradona comes back to the field, in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, as a changed man with a huge responsibility on his hands. He has been given a second chance to redeem himself in the field which has made him who he is today.
Will he be able to do this and lead his country to victory? So far, Argentina is still an undefeated team yet only time will tell whether this will continue. Till then let us keep our fingers crossed for Argentina to win so we can see this living legend, to quote Maradona himself, “run around Buenos Aires naked”.
Badakynti Nylla Iangngap
Image Ratings: [http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2010-06/54122887.jpg]