The Hand of God
was born in Madrid in 1953 and educated at Stonyhurst College
, Lancashire, and the London School of Economics . His early days in
journalism were with Yorkshire Television and the BBC and as a correspondent
for the Economist and the Observer . He has worked as
a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times and on the newspaper´s labour staff , winning the "Industrial Reporter of the Year
Award" in 1990. He is currently social affairs and employment
correspondent at the Financial Times. His previous books are "The Land That
Lost Its Heroes" , winner of the Somerset Maugham
prize for non - fiction ;
the Silver River"; "Spain: A Literary Companion"; and the internationally acclaimed "Barca
: A People´s Passion" .
Some Facts and Statistics about Diego Maradona
Name: Diego Armando Maradona
Birthplace: Buenos Aires - Argentina
Argentinos Juniors - Argentina (76/80) 166
matches (116 goals)
Boca Juniors - Argentina ( 81, 95/97) 71 matches (35 goals)
Barcelona - Spain (82/83) 58 matches (38 goals)
Napoli - Italy (84/91) 259 matches (115 goals)
Sevilla - Spain (92/93) 29 matches (7 goals)
Newell's Old Boys - Argentina (93) 5 matches
Goalscorer of the Campeonato Metropolitano.
* 1979: Top Goalscorer of the Campeonato Metropolitano.
* 1979: Top Goalscorer of the Campeonato Nacional.
* 1979: World Champion with Argentina in the Youth World Cup.
* 1979: 'Olimpia de Oro' to the Best Argentine Footballer of
* 1979: Chosen by FIFA as the Best Player of the year in South America.
* 1979: Receives the Gold Ball as the best player of the moment.
* 1980: Top Goalscorer of the Campeonato Metropolitano.
* 1980: Top Goalscorer of the Campeonato Nacional.
* 1980: Chosen by FIFA as the Best Player of the year in South America.
* 1981: Top Goalscorer of the Campeonato Nacional.
* 1981: Receives the Trofeo Gandulla as Best Footballer of the year.
* 1981: Champion of Argentina with Boca Juniors.
* 1983: Wins the Copa del Rey with Barcelona.
* 1985: Named Ambassador of the UNICEF.
* 1986: World Champion with Argentina.
* 1986: Wins his second 'Olimpia de Oro' to the Best Argentine
Footballer of the year.
* 1986: Named 'Distinguished Citizen' by the City of Buenos
* 1986: Receives the Golden Shoe assigned by Adidas to the Best
Footballer of the year.
* 1986: Gets the Golden Pen as Best Player in Europe.
* 1987: Italian Serie A Champion with Napoli.
* 1987: Wins the Italian Cup with Napoli.
* 1988: Top goalscorer of the Serie A with Napoli.
* 1989: Wins the UEFA Cup with Napoli.
* 1990: Italian Serie A Champion with Napoli.
* 1990: Receives the Premio Konex di Brillante for his sport skill.
* 1990: Second place in the World Cup.
* 1990: Named 'Ambassador of Sport' by the President of
* 1990: Wins the Supercoppa Italiana with Napoli.
* 1993: Awarded as Best Argentine Footballer of all time.
* 1993: Wins the Artemio Franchi Cup with Argentina.
* 1995: Receives the Golden Ball for his career.
* 1995: Awarded as 'Master Inspirer of Dreams' by the
University of Oxford.
* 1999: 'Olimpia de Platino' as Best Footballer of the
* 1999: Receives from the AFA the award as best sportsman of the century
* 1999: His goal of 1986 against England is chosen as the best goal ever
in the history of football.
* 2000: Elected 'FIFA best football player of the century' in
a gala ceremony in Rome after a worldwide poll on the internet.
The life of Diego Armando
The early steps of his Career
Armando Maradona was born in Buenos Aires in 1960.
He was the fifth of the eight children of
Diego Maradona, who is his father and a native Indian, and Dalma Salvadora
Franco. He was nicknamed 'El pibe de oro' (the golden boy).
Diego lived in Villa Fiorito, a small village outside Buenos Aires. His uncle
Cirilo gave him his first football at the age of three! The story says that Diego slept with
the football next to him in the bed and you could notice his skills early.
the age of eight was he the big star in Estrella Roja Red Star (Cebollitas). In this team, Argentina Juniors scout, Francisco Cornejo discovered
him. He said that Diego came from another planet, that he could do anything he
wanted with the ball and that he had better skills than the others. He could
also keep the ball still on his head or on the left foot as long as he wanted
to! It wasn´t only Cornejo who had seen
the art that Diego could do . The media started to record his tricks when he
was ten . During the half time in the matches in the Argentinean League , was
Diego the Half Time attraction .
At the age of nine Diego and his friends
founded the team Little Onions which was soon taken over by Argentinos Juniors
because of the fact they played so well. Ten days before his sixteenth birthday
Diego played his first match as a professional for Argentinos Juniors. He was
the youngest player in the premier division and Scored
his first goal against Lucangioli, goalkeeper of San Lorenzo de Mar del Plata.
timing of this momentous occasion seemed to have exceeded even his ambitions as
years on he was to say 'I always knew I would become great one day, but not
The first experience with the National Team and Boca Juniors
By now Maradona's reputation is growing rapidly, and in
February of 1977 he plays his first match for Argentina against Hungary.
However, despite his enormous talent, Argentine coach Cesar Menotti does not
include him in his final squad of 22 players for the 1978 World Cup in
Argentina - saying that Maradona is too young to handle the pressures of the
world's greatest soccer tournament. A decision that was to be a wise one as
Argentina lift the famous trophy after beating Holland in the final, with Mario
Kempes being the hero of the Argentine fans - but Maradona was to have his day.
June of 1979, he scores his first goal for his country, in Glasgow against
Scotland, and in September that year he leads the Argentine youth side to
victory in the Youth World Cup in Japan - beating the USSR 3-1 in the final. In
February 1981 he joins Boca Juniors.
avoid mistakes, let's make something clear from the beginning: Boca is
Maradona, Maradona is Boca. That story that came out from its main character,
about his sympathy to Independiente is supported by his own words: his
fascination for the skills of Bochini and Bertoni. But the truth is that in his
humble house at Azamor and Mario Bravo, in Villa Fiorito, in his family's heart
and in his own, there was only one flag that flapped coloured blue and gold. He
was raised up loving Boca, he felt, since he was young that something special
was growing between him and the people that supported Boca.They were the first
ones who made an ovation to him at a field, crying out 'Let him stay! /
Let him stay!' as an anthem during the recess between the two halves of a
match in First Division between Argentinos and. Boca.
He was only 12 years old. Years later (not many, though), with Argentinos
t-shirt on, he 'hit' a symbol of Boca, Hugo Orlando Gatti, scoring
four goals. In a single match, four moments that caused other unanimous
ovations: that of Argentinos supporters, of course. but also, that of the
people of Boca.
That's why he insisted so much until he finally got to wear that t-shirt. He
was so involved that he himself helped deal the pass. It was as follows: River
Plate was very interested in counting on Maradona for its team, giving away
whatever was needed. He only had to mention that Boca was just as enthusiast
about him (.when this was not true. Boca was not interested, and had no money
at all) to change the upcoming story.
His dream definitely came true, in an economic deal, which could easily be
considered as a legend of world economics. Millions of
dollars, bank guarantees, chilling fees.
But nothing of that was enough to pay for what he did, ever since his debut
against Talleres de Córdoba, the 22nd February, 1981. Two penalty
goals inside Boca's crowded Stadium (La Bombonera) that helped him become more
self-assured regarding his body, cause he knew he
couldn't give everything he could straight away. You could say his Boca debut with a 4-1 was brilliant.
Boca go on to win the Argentine championship later that year.
At the beginning of the match he let Miguel Angel Brindisi, his ideal partner,
be the center of attention. All the same, so that no one could doubt it, he
showed his distinction in the different games. It is the case of a match
against River, in Boca's Stadium during a rainy night the 10th of
April. When the tournament was coming to an end, the best Maradona showed up.
He defeated Ferro, a team that directed by Carlos Timoteo Griguol, wisely
managed to shift between football, basketball and chess, being a big rival. But
Boca, with Silvio Marzolini as a guide struggled, fought. He then faced the
National Tournament, with lots of trips and friendly matches. All the teams
were so tired that the way was free for the team of Kempes in River Plate.
was never going to be long before the world sat up and took notice of the
diminutive genius, and Barcelona were the team that got their man - signing
Maradona in June 1982.So Diego left Boca the summer of 1982, almost a year had
past since he had arrived. But he didn't leave forever.
His time in Barcelona
young age of 22 in 1982 to be worth $7.2 million ,
Diego left at last, his destiny being Spain. Firstly, to play in World Cup '82
and secondly, to stay in one of the wealthiest football clubs of the world:
Barcelona Football Club. It was not simple for him. They did not make it simple
from Catalan being the official language of that beautiful Spanish region
called Catlunya, outside the stadium. everyone spoke the same dialect. Inside
the field, Diego found out that for the great majority of his team partners,
running was more important than playing. More rage, less talent. And although
the rest could not learn what he knew since he was born, he sensed that he
should incorporate what everyone considered a virtue- 'Put everything
inside the field', according to the ironic definition of César Luis
Menotti- in order to transmit some of his intact magic.
of no help the presence of his first manager, the German Udo Lattek. This man
was more worried about the players to carry huge medicine balls than playing
with the real ones -football ones- in the matches. Nevertheless, he succeeded.
He again lighted up the spark of a fantastic and positive discussion: many
people say that what Maradona made with a ball -the real football- in
Barcelona, could never be repeated. For example, that marvelous goal against
the Real Madrid, forever lasting: with a dribble he managed to crack the
opposing defense, that was pressing in the midfield; he ran and ran with the
ball stuck to his left foot, till he faced the goalkeeper, who looked for him
far from the goal line; with another dribble he did not let the goalkeeper
touch them, nor him nor the ball; he therefore headed towards the empty goal,
his foot and the ball being friends forever. When he was about to reach the
goal line, and the posts made shadows over him, he looked through one of the
eyes he had on his neck, just when Juan José, a long haired, heavily bearded
defender of the Real Madrid was decided to terminate with all the parts
involved in that relationship. Then, the magic: he made a sudden stop, took his
foot. and his ball out of reach for the rival and let him pass by, like a
torero with a bull. Poor Juan José he crashed against the post; and great Diego
finally pushed the ball towards the goal.
on earth could stop such a football player, but a terrible illness would.
Hepatitis caught him by surprise, just when he had been showing off his magic
for about three months.
He played for the first time on September 4th, 1982, being defeated
by Valencia, at Mestalla Stadium, by 2-1. He had played 13 games and had
conquered 6 goals when he had to keep absolute rest. He returned to the fields
three months later, on March 12th, against the Betis. The team
manager had changed, as well as his possibilities to have dreams: Menotti and
the League were waiting with open arms. They could not go for all, but they got
something as a reward: the mostly desired King's Cup.
just a matter of starting all over again, for there was no one who could break
such a strong determination.
Yes, there was one. And it had name and surname: Andoni Goikoetxea, the
executioner of the best left foot in football history. Many people thought that
his career had come to an end on that September 24th of 1983, while
some thought that it was going to take a long time to see him again inside a
football field. Both were wrong, as his prompt return in just 106 days can be
considered as the last miracle that took place in Spain.
One thing was for sure: to keep a good relationship with president
Joseph Luis Núñez, who pretended more starring than he should, much more than
divine help was needed. And that had no possible solution. At the end of
season, in the middle of a royal battle that took place during the final match
of the King's Cup, against archrival Athletic Bilbao, on May 5th of
1984 in Madrid, everything reached to an end.After two seasons playing for Barca , Diego Maradona joined the Italian Club Napoli which
was one of the worst in the Serie A .
The number 10 became a
indeed caught his attention from that populous, southern region he had arrived to, was the discrimination it suffered from the rest of
Italy. He felt that since the beginning. When he traveled
north with his team to play his first game in Italian League, in the wealthy
calcio, against Verona. That took place in September 16th,
1984; the adverse 3-1 score, along with the flags showed by the rival fans,
caused the mixture of both pain and eagerness inside Maradona's blood. 'Lavatevi!', have a shower, could be read on them.
Diego's hand, promotion was now an insult even in southern Italy's dialect.
Change of mentality was so evident that, in the second season, in 1985/86, and
in association with Bruno Giordano, a forward he himself recommended,
Maradona's Napoli threatened and scared the powerful northern teams: it ended
in the third position, and between the new number nine and Diego conquered 21
goals. Juventus, who that year resulted the winner of the Scudetto trophy, trembled.
final explosion occurred in the third season, in 1986/87. After
being made an ambassador by UNICEF, Maradona leads Argentina to victory in the
1986 World Cup in Mexico, beating West Germany 3-2 in the final, but not before
scoring one of the most talked about 'goals' in the history of the game: the
famous 'Hand of God' goal against England( He scored the goal with his hand ,
but the referee did not notice ; After the match a journalist interviewed him
and he just said that was the hand of god which scored the goal).
But no one can argue
with the sheer brilliance that followed it. If his first goal was questionable,
his second was the greatest goal ever scored - without question. After
collecting the ball on the halfway line, Maradona then proceeded to dance
around the entire England team, before slotting the ball past England 'keeper
Peter Shilton. A moment of magic, from a player with a
magical left foot. A factor rarely considered when talking about this
goal is the state of the playing surface in this match; to say it was uneven is
an understatement - yet Maradona had the ball under perfect control throughout
his mazy run towards the England goal. His dream became reality and he was the
World Champion with the Argentinean A-National team
the help of Diego, Napoli won his first Scudetto after a long wait that lasted
for 60 years, leaving the powerful Milan behind, and setting the carnival in
Napoles free. Consecration took place in the San Paolo Stadium, on May 10th,
1987: a tie in the result was enough for it: 1-1. Since that same day, and
having no fear of heresy, the people of Napoles enthroned a new Saint: along
with San Gennaro patron saint of the city, now there was Diego. Or even better, Diecó.
city of extremes, lived joy and frustration with a unique passion in Maradona's
fourth season, the one of 1987/88. That was probably the best start of Diego
and of the team as a whole in its lifetime. But everything collapsed in the
end, in such a way that no one could believe it. The thing was that the Napoli
started like an unstoppable machine, breaking all sorts of records and
statistics, things that Italians are very fond of, but when the final goal
appeared at hand, the engine broke down. The Ma-Gi-Ca formula, composed by
Maradona, Giordano and Careca, the Brazilian that had just joined the club, was
not enough to avoid disaster: from the last seven matches, Napoli lost five and
ended in a tie in two. The key game that was lost was the one against Milan,
with a result of 3-2, on May 1st, and in the very own San Paolo. The
reputation of an exceptional group was soon darkened. While many of the players
were removed from the team, Maradona- upset by the suspicion- doubled his bet.
his fifth season, in 1988/89, the Napoli demonstrated that its good performance
was not casual. Although it lost the battle against the great Inter, Napoli
went beyond Italian frontiers: with Maradona, they won the first UEFA Cup in
its history, making an extraordinary campaign and defeating the German team
Stuttgart. The game of his final return was played in Germany, on May 17th,
1989. A tie in three awarded Napoli. The championship.
point, Diego thought that his time in the club had reached to an end.
Nevertheless, none of the team managers dared to open the door for him to fly
away. That is why he faced his sixth season in Napoli during 1989/90 with great
resentment. It is known that many times this resentment has been Maradona's
fuel. And this was not precisely the exception. Head to head with Milan, they
made the decisive difference in the end. When everyone talked about that great
Napoli of Maradona, the great Maradona of Napoli answered in his own way:
winning the second scudetto in the history of the club. Consecration took place
once again in San Paolo stadium, after defeating the Lazio by a score of 1-0,
on April 29th, 1990.
From that time on the career of Diego Maradona had a change.
He led Argentina to the 1990 World Cup final but Argentina
lose 1-0 to West Germany, with Andreas Brehme scoring from the spot late on.
Loosing the World Cup- Italy 90 was like the end of the world for Maradona, he
cried inside the field when everything was over. The people in the stadium did
not understand his sadness and booed him. He said about that, I would have
never imagined that there could be so many people happy with my own sadness! .
Dark days were to follow this for
Maradona, when in 1991, he was proved positive in a dope test, and is banned
from football for 15 months.
Upon completion of his ban in 1992, he refusesd to return
to Napoli, and asked for a transfer - and joined Spanish side Sevilla.
Diego's history in Napoli is so great, that still continues nowadays. And will
Sevilla , a new start?
He was suspended, it was like an Italian vendetta that forbid him
to play football for fifteen months. It was too much time for such a talent. He
needed to run, he needed to shout a goal, he needed to
World Champion with Argentina, he won everything down in Italy. He had reached
the top, heaven. He was God. He tried to become earthly
again. Sevilla was the ideal destiny for that. The idea was to play and have
September, 1992 he stepped on a field again. Sevilla welcomed him with a party.
Thirty thousand people expected him at Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium. The
guest, the partenaire was Bayern Munich, with his friend Lotthar Matthaus. A
free shoot to the crossbeam showed his talent remained untouched.
debut in the Spanish League he made with Sevilla, losing 2-1
against Athletic Bilbao. After about a year of Depressions he left Sevilla in
October 1993 and joins Newell's old boys in Argentina.
the roots and the end
He leaves Sevilla in October 1993 and joins Newell's old
boys in Argentina, losing 3-1 in his first appearance against Independiente.
Later that month he makes his international comeback, playing in Sydney against
Australia in the playoffs to qualify for the USA 1994-world cup. The match is a
1-1 draw, with the Argentine goal being credited to inspirational play by
Maradona. In November that same year, Argentina - captained by Maradona - win
1-0 against Australia and qualify for the USA World Cup.
idea belonged to Gringo Giusti, but anyone could have come up with it. With his
manager suit on, this Diego's former national team-mate was in the stadium
watching a Newell's match. The game was boring and not at all transcendental,
when he looked at Tota Rodriguez and said: 'This club needs an effective
strike and I know the only person capable of doing it.' That same person
was, of course, football's very own surname: Maradona. That seemed to be the
best destiny. A city that breaths and lives for football was
waiting for him. Everyone in Rosario was following his steps, even the
fans of Rosario Central, Newell's archrival, forgave him for playing in that
team. 'Let's save Maradona, leprosy can heal', they would say
as a beginner, he began one of the most strict diets
in his life. He lost 12 kilograms, thanks to a Chinese man whose name is very
hard to remember: Liu Guo Cheng.
On Monday September 13th, 1993, Independence Park burst with life.
Anxiety was everywhere. It was an unrepeatable evening.
thousand people were about to witness a miracle. Maradona dressed in red and
black. His small body appeared in the field, and he felt that he could not
coordinate his movements. He received an incredible ovation that encouraged him
to shyly raise up his arms. A ball slid towards him,
inviting him to do with it what no one else could imitate. Not even that made
him react. His team-mates approached him with great admiration and threw him up
high in the sky. His smile was everlasting, like that time, nearly a decade ago
in the San Paolo. People had gone just to see him juggling with the ball.
Indio Solari gave him all the comforts he needed. Eight years, ten months and
eight days had passed for his return to Argentina to play for an Argentine
team. That took place on October 10th, 1993 at Independiente's
Stadium, the very same place where he had watched his first matches and had
been delighted with players such as Bochini and Bertoni.
He showed his enthusiasm and quality in some of his trade marked plays. No one
will forget that marvelous kick that the goalkeeper Islas saved miraculously.
That one won't be his last.
Even when his time in the club was very short and that the story seemed to be
unfinished, not a single Newell's fan could ever regret having him amongst
them, even though it was for just five games.
In 1994, when after playing well in two of Argentina's
World Cup matches - scoring a great goal against Greece in one of them - he
receives a ban for using ephedrine, a substance not allowed by FIFA. In October
1994 he takes up his first coaching job with Deportivo Mandiyú of Corrientes,
resigning just two months later.
In May 1995 he takes up his second coaching position, this
time with Racing - resigning four months later!! Obviously not content with
sitting on the sidelines, he comes back to play for Boca Juniors, with the fans
of Boca preparing a special party for him - complete with firework display -
which was held in the stadium of the 'Bombonera'. He continues to
play for Boca until August 1997, when he started the 1997/98 season in great
shape, but was once again found to be positive after yet another dope test, but
there are suspicions of a plot against him.
In October 1997 he plays his last match for Boca, winning
1-2 away against River Plate. Then later that month he decides to retire from
football on the day of his 37th birthday. In 1998 he does not play in the World
Cup, but travels to France to commentate on the match for an Argentine TV
channel. In November 1998 he goes back to Italy after more than 7 years. Then
in 1999 he agrees to a movie about his life and takes part in the Italian movie
'Tifosi'. Also in 1999, he received an award from the Argentine
Football Association naming him 'Best sportsman of the century in Argentina';
his goal against England was chosen as the best goal ever in the history of
football, and the following year he was named as: 'FIFA best footballer of the
century' at a gala ceremony in Rome, after a worldwide poll on the internet.
In May 2000, Maradona was
released from a Cuban hospital after undergoing treatment for heart
complications, as a result of drug and alcohol abuse. This highlighted the sad
fact, which as is usually the case, where there is genius, there is always a
flaw - and Diego Armando Maradona was no different. Fortunately for him, he just
happened to be one of the greatest players of all time. This website is all
about footballing talent, and Maradona had it in abundance. If you forget about
his flaws, and concentrate on what this man did on the pitch, you are left with
the one redeeming quality that set him apart from most of his peers - GENIUS.
I hate reading , but this book was a book I really
enjoyed because of the fact that it is written about soccer . It shows very
well how Maradona lived and what he felt and I can absolutely recommend that book . At certain times it was difficult to read but all in
all it was very good to understand . About Diego Maradona , I have to say that his life was like a roller
coaster ride but what is clear is that his addiction is that of football. In a
country like Argentina a poor kid who made it from the slums is more
representative than the president as he put it. His originating from the slums
was what shaped his life and aspirations and his main criticism has always been
that many famous footballers did not speak enough for or represented the poor.
In fact many of them like him had risen from the slums. Many hope that he
recovers so that the world does not miss its greatest footballer. For me he is one of the best !!!