In the world of football, there was someone who was just 5.5 feet tall but whose stature in that domain touched unparalleled heights. However, that personality also experienced darkness in life. Diego Maradona was one of the world’s greatest football players. He was also called The God of Football, who saw heaven and hell on this earth and died on November 25 at the age of 60.
Maradona was a player who also scored goals and made mistakes. He was proud of his broad shoulders and felt that he could take enmity with anyone. On DNA, Zee News Editor-in-Chief Sudhir Chaudhary analyses and explains the things that the youth can learn from Maradona and what are the weaknesses due to which the God of football also had to see bad days.
In the language of football fans, Maradona was and will remain immortal. But with this immortality, as a human being, he had all the advantages and drawbacks which makes him different from others and at at the same time as others.
Maradona once said, “I am Maradona, who also scores goals, commits mistakes, I can withstand everything, my shoulders are so wide that I can fight anyone.” It was Maradona’s deftness that made him different from other great players.
Maradona, born on October 30, 1960, in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires started playing professional football from the age of 15. He played his World Cup in 1982 and scored two goals in this tournament. The same year he went to play for Barcelona, Spain’s famous football club. Then he got a fee of Rs 56 crore for this according to today’s price. With this deal, he became the world’s most expensive player at that time.
But Maradona was not happy in Barcelona. He felt that he was suffocating there. He then became a member of Napoli, an Italian football club in 1984. The club was financially troubled but still, Maradona received Rs 77 crore for it. The club took a loan from the bank to pay Maradona’s fees. By joining this weak club, Maradona showed that he knew how to take the risk.
Meanwhile, in 1986, the Football World Cup was held, which was won by Maradona’s country Argentina, and the biggest role in the victory was that of Maradona, or rather, he won the World Cup for Argentina on his own. This World Cup is remembered for two of the most famous goals made by Maradona.
The first Goal was called ‘The Hand of God’ and the other the ‘Goal of the Century’. He scored both these goals in a quarter-final against England in a span of four minutes. The first of these goals was done by his head. In Football it is called Header but in fact, he scored this goal with his left hand and not with his head. But this wasn’t noticed by the referee and this goal proved fatal for England. When Maradona was asked about this after the match, he said, ‘A little from the head and a little from the Hand of God’. It has since been called ‘Hand of God’ goal.
Just four minutes later, Maradona scored another miraculous goal. He ran from his team’s half to England’s goal post to score this goal. During this time, he impressed almost every England player and while running at lightning speed, he scored this magnificent goal and with that England team got out of the World Cup. That is, Maradona showed his good and bad both in four minutes, his deception was hidden in Hand Of God goal, while by stating Goal Of The Century, he showed how capable he is.
He then continued his journey with the club Napoli of Italy. This club was in Naples, Italy, which was the most backward city of Italy at that time and there used to be the terror of drug mafias. This club was not in a good condition and it was called Back Benchers Club as it did not have any good players. But Maradona reversed both the game and luck of this club as soon as he arrived.
In 1987, Maradona won the club a big championship in Italy and this club started challenging the big clubs. Even after this, he continued to give success to his club Napoli. But during this time his life had come to the centre half. You can also call it the interval of Maradona’s life because from here on he tried to reach his goals but he could not overcome the challenges.
He was banned for 15 months in 1991 for taking cocaine drugs and had to return from Italy. In 1994, he returned to the field for the World Cup but once again he was confirmed to be taking drugs and was sent back, ending his international career. In 1997, he announced his retierment once he failed in the drug test when he was 37 years old.
Maradona’s football career was 21 years old but he tried his best for only 14 years, and then slowly he first got caught and then diseases took over him. Overall, Diego Maradona was living two kinds of life, when he made mistakes, drugged, went to jail, drunk excessively, so he drove to Diego but the image of Maradona used to return on the football field. But the drug addiction slowly killed Maradona in a way and only Diego survived.
To understand what the difference was between Diego and Maradona, one has to know their beginnings. Maradona’s father was a laborer in a factory and his childhood was spent in great poverty. He and his family used to live in a slum. Maradona had eight siblings and so his family was not even able to provide for his needs. When Maradona was just three years old, he got a football in his gift. He fell in love with the football and it was from here that he started his journey to become a great player.
When Maradona was just 8 years old, he went to give a trial for a local club. The coach there was surprised at his ability to play football and refused to believe that he was only 8 years old. Looking at his game, it seemed that he was born to play football.
Apart from this, he also had many shortcomings. Maradona had only two dreams–one to play for his country Argentina and the other to win his country the World Cup and at the age of 25, he had fulfilled both of his dreams.
In 1991, he was accused of taking drugs for the first time and he was banned for 15 months. At the same time, he was also accused of having links with criminal organizations and investigation started against him in Italy. Before the 1994 World Cup, Maradona once again took drugs and could not play the World Cup.
Despite this, he could not quit his drug addiction and in 1997, he retired from football after being caught taking drugs for the third time. But alcohol and drug addiction did not stop him and people started saying that he is doing Slow Motion Suicide. After the retierment, Maradona became more unwell, he drank excessively and his weight increased to 128 kg.
Maradona treated his drug addiction in the Cuban capital Havana between the years 2000 and 2005. During this time he became a friend of the then President of Cuba, Fidel Castro, and also had tatoo of Castro’s face on one of his legs. But even this treatment could not help him much.
He married his childhood friend Claudia in 1984 and the marriage lasted until 2004. Maradona and Claudia also had two daughters but apart from this, he had relations with many women. He had many children, some of whom he considered his child but he did not accept the claims of many women. It is said that Maradona is the father of 10-11 children and jokes were made that he had formed his own football team.
But when Maradona died, he had only his daughters. The great player with whom crores of fans used to stand, who had all the comforts of life, money, name and fame, all these things had gone too far when his last time came and only his daughters were present with him.
Diego Maradona was heavily inspired by Indian football. In 2008, he came to Kolkata for the first time. The Kolkata Football fans waited outside the airport all night. When Maradona exited the airport, he was surprised to see the craze of the fans. At that time, Maradona said that he ‘didn’t know that there are such a large number of his fans in India’.
Maradona also met former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu during his visit to Kolkata. On his way back from Kolkata, Maradona promised that he would definitely come to Kolkata again. In 2017, as promised, Maradona once again came to Kolkata but this was his personal visit. There is also a Statue of Maradona in Kolkata which shows him winning the World Cup trophy.
He taught the world that poverty and other challenges do not come in the way if your dreams are big and you are ready to work hard for it. There have also been great players in the world like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Pele. All these players had both good and great players in their teams. In 1986, when Maradona gave his country the World Cup, Argentina’s team was not in a position to win a single match but Maradona single-handedly won the World Cup for his country.
Maradona also brought Italy’s weak club, Napoli, to its own game. He was a brilliant team man and nothing mattered other than his team’s victory. Perhaps this is why Pele, the second greatest football player, has paid tribute to Maradona, saying that he is sure that one day both players will play football in heaven.
Maradona never left his friends. He was also friends with former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, current President Nicolas Maduro and was also a friend of former Cuban President Fidel Castro. They have been in opposition to these leaders but Maradona continued to support them till the last moment and never said anything against them.
But Maradona also had some drawbacks. The biggest drawback was that he could not handle his success. He was the biggest star player in Argentina and he was no less than a god for his club Napoli, but he was addicted to drugs and excessive parties. He had also made many criminals his friends.
He stopped focusing on his health when he was a great player, he started drinking excessive alcohol and his weight started increasing. Despite being a sportsman, his lack of attention to his fitness was a big drawback. Another drawback was that he was notorious for violating the rules, he never paid tax while playing for an Italian club. The Italian government still owes him more than Rs 300 crore.
His biggest drawback was that he was not sincere about his relationships, he had relationships with many women, he had many children but he refused to consider himself a father. The player who won for his team honestly on the football field remained dishonest in real-life relationships.