Football legend, Diego Amando Maradona died from cardiac arrest on Wednesday. Here Vanguard presents some Maradona Moments to relive the memories of the departed diminutive Argentine genius.
1. Tournament’s Best Player (1979)
Considered too young for Carlos Menotti’s 1978 World Cup squad despite having made his debut in 1977, aged 16, Maradona duly went about terrorising poor saps his own age the following year in Japan.
Argentina won it – of course – thrashing Indonesia (5-0) and Poland (4-1) in the group stage (also edging out Yugoslavia 1-0), with Maradona helping himself to three of the goals. Algeria were hammered 5-0 in the quarter-finals, Uruguay seen off in the semis and then the Soviet Union too, 3-1 in the final. Maradona helped himself to a goal in each knockout game, rounding off the scoring in the final with a virtuoso display.
Ramon Diaz may have won the Golden Shoe, but Maradona claimed the Golden Ball for being the tournament’s best player. Needless to say, he wasn’t considered too young for Argentina duty again.
2. Hand of God (1986)
It’s quite a testament to the diminutive genius’s second goal in this World Cup quarter-final that it only ever-so-slightly overshadowed his opener (you might know it).
Peter Beardsley will have surely wished he’d chopped Maradona there and then after the Argentine had pirouetted past him in his own half. Perhaps the Geordie moptop could be forgiven, though, for thinking his team-mates could take care of the 5ft 5in danger dwarf with half a pitch left to do his damage in.
Jogging past a puffing Peter Reid proved unsurprisingly easy; more horrifying was the ease with which he made a mockery of hard man Terry Butcher with a simple skip inside. With his next touch, beautifully delayed, he took out a hapless Terry Fenwick, then rounded Peter Shilton. Butcher’s sliding challenge was in vain: Maradona had scored one of football’s greatest ever goals and Argentina were 2-0 up after 55 minutes. They’d win 2-1 to set up a semi-final meet with Belgium, in which El Diego plundered another brace.
3. Napoli’s double Serie A-Coppa Italia title (1987)
Fresh from world domination, Maradona duly set about bringing glory to Naples. Napoli had finished 8th and 3rd in the Argentine’s first two seasons in Italy, and hadn’t made it past the last 16 of the Coppa Italia.
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But then it all came good: Napoli didn’t lose any of their first 12 games of 1986-87 and won at both Juventus and Roma, the previous season’s champions and 2nd-placed side respectively. Maradona – the only non-Italian in Napoli’s squad – got the solitary goal in Rome, one of 10 in a Serie A season that averaged only 1.93 goals per game (among the lowest in the league’s history).
It finished with a title for the Partenopei, their first-ever in Serie A, celebrated with wild street parties and even mock funerals for their close rivals. When they followed it up with a 4-0 aggregate Coppa Italia final win over Atalanta – Maradona setting up two of the goals – Naples was agog.
4. Sent home from World Cup (1994)
Maradona was sent home in disgrace from the USA after failing a drugs test for ephedrine (which he blamed on his personal trainer, then later claimed he had a broken agreement with FIFA to use it for weight loss) – in what was a truly awful tournament for Argentina.
They beat Greece and Nigeria to make it through the group, but went out to Romania in the second round in front of 90,000 at the Rose Bowl. The 2-1 win over Nigeria was Maradona’s last game for his country – powdered up to the eyeballs and 34, it was an ungraceful way to end a magical international career.
But he didn’t leave without making an indelible mark on USA 94. Argentina demolished Greece 4-0 in their opening game, with Gabriel Batistuta plundering a hat-trick, but the only thing anyone really remembers is Maradona sealing an exceptional one-touch team move and the camera-bawling celebration that followed.
5. Irking Nigerians (2018)
Maradona got on the nerves of supporters of Nigeria’s Super Eagles at the 2018 World Cup after he made gestures with his fingers following his nation’s late win that sent them into the Round of 16. Maradona was pictured showing two middle fingers in the stands after Marcos Rojo’s late winner to send the Albiceleste through.
*A large part of this article was sourced from fourfourtwo.com