Diego Armando Maradona was the name on virtually all the mainstream and social media platforms across the world on Wednesday, November 25, 2020, when the news broke that the 60-year-old Argentine football icon had passed away.
Autopsy report claimed that Maradona died of heart failure at his home in Buenos Aires, Argentina; in the same vein, it is being suspected that the cause of Maradona’s death was not natural.
Before we go into details of the life and time of Diego Armando Maradona, let us look at his life before stardom, during stardom, and after his football career.
Who was Diego Maradona?
No matter how famous a person is, there will still be some people that won’t know such a person. This applied to the late football icon Diego Armando Maradona who didn’t only played football but coached numerous football teams including Argentina’s national team between 2008 and 2010.
To answer the question about who Diego Maradona was, let us look at the life of Diego Maradona from his humble beginning and then to what he ended up becoming.
Diego Armando Maradona and his humble beginning.
Just like most football superstars from Argentina, Diego Armando Maradona was born into a very poor family on 30 October 1960. According to available records, Maradona was given birth to at the Policlínico (Polyclinic) Evita Hospital in Lanús, Buenos Aires Province.
After his birth, Maradona began life in a shantytown known as Villa Fiorito, a town which is located in the Corrientes Province, on the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital.
The late football icon was raised among 6 siblings. His parents had already given birth to four females before he was given birth to. After him, his parents had two male children – Hugo (el Turco) and Raúl (Lalo) who were also professional footballers.
Diego got his first contact with his dream when he was 3-year-old. At that age, he was given a soccer ball. From that point onward, he dedicated his time to playing with the ball until it created in him what he ended up becoming.
Before he turned 8-year-old, it was difficult to hide the enormous soccer talent Maradona was carrying and that led him to be discovered by a club in his neighborhood Estrella Roja. From there, he joined the Los Cebollitas (The Little Onions), which was the junior team of Buenos Aires-based club, Argentinos Juniors.
While he was with ‘The Little Onions”, he used his free time to serve as a ball boy during first division games in the Argentine league. He didn’t stop there, after the first half of every match, he would use the break to showcase his football skills to the spectators. The spectators were always wowed by the tremendous talent a boy who was just 12-year-old then was displaying.
His football talent fast-tracked his success so much that he started playing for Argentinos Juniors 10 days before his 16th birthday and that made him the youngest person to play in the Argentine Primera División at such a tender age.
On his debut professional game against Talleres de Córdoba, on 20 October 1976, Maradona showcased his famous nutmeg skill (the playing of the ball between the legs of an opponent) to the world. On that day, he wore the jersey number 16 which indicated that he would soon turn 16-year-old.
The first player that suffered from Maradona’s nutmeg was Talleres de Córdoba’s player Juan Domingo Cabrera. Since then, the skill has become one of the most used skills in football history.
“I was on the right side of the field and went to press him, but he didn’t give me a chance. He made the nutmeg and when I turned around, he was far away from me”, Domingo said 30 years after the nutmeg experience from Maradona.
Diego Maradona’s Club and country career and major honors
After creating a lot of beautiful memories at Argentinos Juniors between 1976 and 1981 where he scored about 116 goals in 166 appearances, Maradona moved to Boca Juniors in 1981 and spent a year at the club scoring 28 goals in 40 appearances. He won his first and only Argentine Primera División title in 1981 for Boca Juniors.
After conquering league football in Argentina, Maradona moved to Spanish club FC Barcelona for a then world transfer record fee of $7.6 million. He spent just two years at the club scoring 38 goals in 58 games. He had to leave Barcelona so early because of his injuries and controversies.
One of the biggest controversies that forced Maradona out of Barcelona happened at the 1984 Copa del Rey final at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid against Athletic Bilbao. In the match, Maradona reacted to the hard tackle he received from an Athletic Bilbao player Goikoetxea. His reaction resulted in a free-for-all-fight in the stadium that led to the injury of 60 people with the king of Spain King Juan Carlos and an audience of 100,000 people in attendance.
After the chaotic scene, Maradona was forced out of the club and Italian Serie A club, Napoli signed him in 1984 for a then world transfer record of $10.48 million. Before then, he had helped Barcelona to win one Copa del Rey, one Copa de la Liga, and one Supercopa de España.
At Napoli, Maradona reached the peak of his football career helping Napoli to win their first Italian Serie A title in the 1986-1987 season.
Before drug addiction and off the field controversies forced him out of Napoli in 1991, Maradona had scored 81 goals in 188 games. He also helped Napoli to win two league titles, one Coppa Italia, one UEFA Cup, and one Supercoppa Italiana.
After his reign at Sevilla for a year (1992-1993) marred to a large extent by controversies and drug addiction, Maradona returned to Argentina where he played for Argentine clubs like Newell’s Old Boys and Boca Juniors.
Besides club success, Diego Maradona is the most celebrated footballer in Argentina especially after helping the country to win the 1986 FIFA World Cup. He also helped Argentina to win FIFA under-20 World Cup in 1979, Artemio Franchi Trophy in 1993, and the Copa América bronze model in 1989.
Before he retired from international football in 1994, Diego Maradona scored 34 goals for his country in 91 games despite playing mostly as a playmaker (10).
The parents of Diego Armando Maradona
As stated earlier, Diego Armando Maradona was the first son in a family of 9 (including his father and mother). The parents of Maradona were born and raised in Esquina, a town located in the north-east province of Corrientes. They both left their place of birth to settle in the outskirt of the country’s capital, Buenos Aires.
The name of Maradona’s father was Diego Maradona Senior, also known as Chitoro. He was of American ancestry. He died in 2015.
While Maradona’s mother’s name was Dalma Salvadora Franco, also known as “Doña Tota”. She passed away in 2011 and she was of Italian ancestry.
Diego Maradona Children
Diego Maradona had eight legitimate children which he had with different women. His legitimate children which he accepted as his biological children include: Diego Jnr, 34, Dalma, 33, Gianinna, 31, Jana, 24, and Diego Fernando, seven.
Besides his legitimate children, Diego has over 6 children he had with numerous women from different parts of the world, especially in Cuba and in Italy which he failed to accept as his children before he died.
Some of those people who are regarded as Maradona’s illegitimate children include 23-year-old Magali Gil, 19-year-old Santiago Lara, and three other children who were born to two separate mothers in Cuba.
Both the legitimate and the unconfirmed children of the late Argentina football icon are said to be set to battle for the wealth Maradona left behind.
Diego Maradona jr.
Diego Maradona jr., also known as Diego Sinagra, is one of the legitimate children of late Diego Armando Maradona. Earlier after his birth in Naples on 20 September 1986, Maradona could not claim the paternity of the boy.
The case became so complicated that it has to be taken to an Italian court for settlement. In 1993, the Italian court ruled that Diego Sinagra is the biological son of late Maradona.
The ruling was made even though Maradona failed to undergo a DNA test to prove or disprove his paternity of Diego jr.
After the ruling in 1993, it took Diego Sinagra 10 years before he had the opportunity to meet Maradona. Sinagra had to smuggle himself into a golf course in Italy where the Argentine football legend was playing golf to establish a father and son connection.
Sinagra was able to establish the bond he wanted to have with Maradona before the football legend died. The 34-year-old striker is an Italian footballer and professional beach soccer player. The name of his mother is Cristiana Sinagra.
Diego Maradona health issues and death
Diego Armando Maradona was one of the most celebrated footballers in the world but he was one of the footballers that struggled with drug abuse and addiction which strongly affected his health.
In 2019, the late footballer who was 1.65 meters tall, was leaving an almost perfect life as he was a bit off the news for the wrong reasons. He concentrated on his managerial career with Argentine side Gimnasia de La Plata. The club offered him a one year-deal which would expire at the end of the ongoing Argentine league season if he was alive.
Before Diego died on November 25, 2020, he had battled a series of health issues especially drug addiction and obesity. He was so obese that he had to undergo surgery and a change of diet to treat and prevent obesity.
In 2007, he had to be admitted to the hospital to treat hepatitis. While in January 2019, Maradona had to undergo surgery to treat a hernia (and internal bleeding in his stomach).
In that same year, false reports went viral announcing the death of Maradona three times within a month. The reports ended up becoming fake after the football icon staged some public appearances in May 2007.
While in early November 2020, a few days after his 60th birthday, Maradona underwent brain surgery to treat blood clots in his brain. In less than 8 days after the surgery, he was discharged and taken to his home in Buenos Aires to continue with his treatment.
To the dismay of the world, Diego Maradona died on November 25, 2020, of a heart attack according to an autopsy report. He was buried in a private cemetery in Buenos Aires three days after his death.