Mandatory Credit: Photo by AP/REX/Shutterstock (9168659f) Argentina soccer legend Diego Armando Maradona and partner Rocio Olivia arrive for the The Best FIFA 2017 Awards at the Palladium Theatre in London Britain The Best FIFA Awards, London, United Kingdom - 23 Oct 2017

Argentina’s footbal legend Diego Armando Maradona is finally in the hands of God. The Football icon has passed away aged 60 after suffering a cardiac arrest on November 25, 2020 and was pronounced dead at the property near to where one of his two daughters with ex-wife Claudia Villafane lives. Maradona underwent surgery earlier November to remove a blood clot from his brain. He died after two weeks of being released from the clinic in Buenos Aires.The Argentine FA confirmed the news on social media, releasing a statement on Maradona’s death.”The Argentine Football Association, through its President Claudio Tapia, expresses its deepest sorrow for the death of our legend, Diego Armando Maradona.”You will always be in our hearts.” 

Immediately after the official announcement of his demise, current and former footballers all over the world began paying tribute on social media after hearing of the sad news of Maradona’s passing. Former England’s international Gary Lineker tweeted: “By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time. After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God. #RipDiego”Marcus Rashford also paid tribute by posting a photo of a young Maradona captaining Argentina with the caption: “Legendary” Brazil icon Pele mourned Maradona’s death, sending a poignant message: “Certainly, one day we’ll kick a ball together in the sky above,” he said. Argentina President Alberto Fernandez has also tweeted: “You took us to the highest place in the world. You made us immensely happy. You were the greatest of all,” Maradona also became synonymous with England supporters at the 1986 World Cup for his ‘Hand of God’ goal, which eliminated the Three Lions from the tournament.  

Diego Maradona’s personal life was chaotic, but his football talent was unrivalled,In April 1991, Diego Maradona was banned for 15 months after he tested positive for cocaine before a Serie A game for Napoli.Maradona helped his side win the Uefa Cup in 1989 and a second league title the year after that. It completed the most successful period in Napoli’s history, which began with a famous league and cup double in 1987. However, while Maradona illustrious football career was starting to take shape in Italy, so was a cocaine addiction.He was slapped with a 15-month suspension for violating drug regulations in 1991 and was thrown out of the 1994 World Cup after testing positive for ephedrine.The final years of his career were masked in controversy, but his talents on the football pitch inspired a generation.Lionel Messi, now regarded as the greatest footballer, admitted some few years ago that Maradona helped shape his path into football. 

“I never followed anyone in particular, although when I started to think for myself Diego [Maradona] had recently returned home,” he said in 2015. 

When he left Naples, it was in disgrace. He missed training, then he missed matches. He fell out with the players, the manager, the president. He piled on weight and had very public affairs. He fell out of favour with the mafia. During a big game he asked to be substituted and the people of Naples finally lost their patience. In 1991, Maradona was done. But all that is forgotten now. Walk around the streets of Naples and you see his image everywhere.

Shops sell all kinds of Maradona merchandise. Massive murals of Maradona cover sides of buildings. Bars keep shrines to Maradona. Some places display a patron saint for protection but just as many display the face of Maradona. And beneath his face it’s always the same word: dios. Maradona isn’t the owner of Naples. He’s a demigod. But how did it happen? Maradona’s death comes on the date , 25November, that George Best died 15 years ago. Diego Maradona often talked about Best and how the Manchester United legend was one of his childhood heroes. Fidel Castro , also died on 25 November, another one of Maradona’s inspirations. 

Needless to say that, Diego Armando Maradona’s place in sporting history and popular culture is secure for ever. The extraordinary Argentine will be talked about as long as football is played . He has left us far too soon at the age of 60, but his legacy will live on for generations.

Author: Bunmi Johnson



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