So 2020 has claimed one more victim. The wayward genius of football has fallen prey to the killer year. Many football fans considered him to be the living God of football. But can a God die ? He will live on in the hearts of his fans. Nobody who saw him in action in 1986 can forget the magical skills that he put on display.
He dominated the World Cup at Mexico in a way that no other player has ever dominated a World Cup tournament.
1986 was Maradona’s World Cup. He was the hero, the villain, the script writer, the supporting actor and the director of Argentina’s triumph.
What can we say about a man who scored the infamous Hand of God goal as well as the Goal of the Century in the same match. He was the villain who turned into a hero before the end of the film.
An advanced playmaker Maradona came up from the ranks of Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell’s Old Boys during his club career, and is most famous for his time at Napoli and Barcelona where he won numerous accolades.
In his international career with Argentina, he earned 91 caps and scored 34 goals. Maradona played in four FIFA World Cups.
But he was also embroiled in controversy.
From the mid-1980s until 2004, Maradona was addicted to cocaine. He allegedly began using the drug in Barcelona in 1983. By the time he was playing for Napoli, he had a regular addiction, which began to interfere with his ability to play football.
He had health issues too.
Maradona had a tendency to put on weight and suffered increasingly from obesity, at one point weighing 130 kg. He was obese from the end of his playing career until undergoing gastric bypass surgery in a clinic in Colombia, in 2005.
For the rest of his life he went in and out of hospitals for various health problems including psychiatric ones.
On 25 November 2020 at the age of 60, Maradona died of a heart attack at his home in Tigre, Buenos Aires, Argentina. In a statement on social media, the Argentine Football Association expressed “its deepest sorrow for the death of our legend”, adding: “You will always be in our hearts.”
May his soul rest in peace.
Abhijit Sen Gupta is a veteran sports journalist with Indian and International exposure.