2020 was a tragic year for the global population and football was affected just as much as any other part of society. FIFA honours the memories of those named below and the countless other members of the football family who made a difference in the sport and in our lives.
Diego Armando Maradona
Perhaps the most iconic footballer ever to grace the game, Diego Maradona’s mercurial talent and presence on and off the pitch made him an idol the world over. He captained Argentina to two FIFA World Cup™ finals, winning in 1986, the year in which he also won the Golden Ball and scored what would be named FIFA’s Goal of the Century in 2002.
Having been discovered at the age of eight, Maradona later became a teenage sensation, making his professional debut for Argentinos Juniors at 15 and scoring almost a goal a game in 116 appearances. In 1979, he lit up the FIFA World Youth Championship, leading Argentina to victory.
Having helped Boca Juniors win Argentina’s Primera División and appeared in his first FIFA World Cup in 1982, FC Barcelona paid a world-record fee of USD 7.5 million for Maradona. During two turbulent years in Barcelona, he scored 38 goals, won the 1983 Copa del Rey, suffered a career-threatening ankle injury, and was never far from disciplinary trouble.
Despite this, in 1984 Napoli paid a new world-record USD 10.5 million for him. He thus embarked on a colourful seven-year career in which he inspired them to become the first southern club to win Italy’s Serie A in 1987, claim their first European trophy with the 1989 UEFA Cup, and a second league title in 1990.
By the time he left in 1992, Maradona was deified in Naples, as well as in his homeland, and the club officially retired the no. 10 shirt in recognition of his contribution to their history.
Following a 15-month ban for failing an anti-doping test, he played for Sevilla FC in Spain and Newell’s Old Boys back in Argentina, before returning to his first love, Boca Juniors, where he saw out his playing career.
After his retirement from playing in 1997, he took up coaching, leading Argentina at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa. Despite unfailing support from the fans, his time in management never reached the heights of his extraordinary playing career.
Papa Bouba Diop
When Senegal made their FIFA World Cup™ debut at Korea/Japan 2002, fans’ expectations were not high, facing as they did the holders France in the opening game. The Lions of Teranga stunned the world champions and the whole football world with an explosive victory thanks to a breathless goal by Papa Bouba Diop.
Diop entered the annals of footballing history by sliding in to grab the winner, his nation’s first ever FIFA World Cup goal. A powerful towering central midfielder, Diop embodied Senegal’s speed, strength and skill in an unforgettable campaign that saw the West African side become a feared opponent on the world stage and favourite with neutral fans.
After his revelatory performances with Senegal at the World Cup, Diop played in France’s Ligue 1 with Lens and for a number of clubs in England’s Premier League, where fans dubbed him “the Wardrobe” for his physical stature.
Sadly, Diop lost his fight with motor neurone disease at the age of just 42. His name lives on, however, in FIFA World Cup history.
“Don Nacho” Trelles was not only an excellent national team leader, who was at the helm of El Tri at three FIFA World Cups™, but he also had prolonged success domestically, winning more LigaMX titles (seven) than any other coach. An immense personality, he helped revolutionise Mexican football with his tactical and welfare innovations.
His pioneering efforts led to the national team being given additional coaching and support staff, including assistants and doctors, for the first time. He was also a tactical pioneer, setting up his Mexico side with three central defenders and two wingbacks in a World Cup match against England in 1966, an unusual tactic at the time.
After a coaching career spanning 43 years, Trelles finally left the dugout after spending the 1990/91 season with Puebla. He would remain active in the game for several more years, however, as coordinator of the academy teams at Cruz Azul, a club where he held an honorary position for many years.
Hailing from a family of modest means, Jack always had a close relationship with his younger brother Bobby, two years his junior. The brothers were never closer on the pitch than on 30 July 1966, when England won the FIFA World Cup™ title on home soil.
Jack played every match in that glorious campaign, as part of a central-defensive partnership with captain Bobby Moore that conceded just three goals in the whole competition, two of them coming in the Final.
He spent his entire club career at Leeds United, making 773 appearances between 1952 and 1973, winning the League Cup in 1968, the league championship in 1969 and the FA Cup in 1972.
After retirement from playing, Jack moved into coaching, enjoying spells with Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday before taking on the Republic of Ireland job in 1986. He oversaw the greatest era in the history of the Boys in Green, leading them to their first ever FIFA World Cup at Italy 1990, where they went all the way to the quarter-finals, and back to the big stage at USA 1994 before leaving the football world behind for good.
Hari Raj Naicker
Hari Raj Naicker was a pioneer who lived to serve football in his native Fiji and in the wider region of Oceania. Known for his discipline and sense of justice, Naicker dedicated himself to a 60-year career in the game.
Naicker became a FIFA referee in 1975, officiating for a record 17 years before retiring. His involvement with FIFA did not end there, however, and he became the first FIFA refereeing instructor from Fiji, passing on the lessons from his international experience officiating in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and throughout the Pacific Island nations.
He also served as the Fiji Football Referees’ National Secretary from 1975 to 2002 and chairman of the Fiji FA’s Referees Commission between 1997 and 2005.
Naicker received numerous accolades for his exemplary professionalism and passion, named administrator of the year by the Fiji FA in 1993, conferred the Fiji Olympic Order by the National Olympic Committee, and recognised by FIFA at the 62nd FIFA Congress in Budapest, where he became the third Fijian native to receive the FIFA Order of Merit for his lifelong service to the game.
Paolo Rossi will forever be a national hero in Italy, primarily for his six goals that helped the Azzurri win the 1982 FIFA World Cup™ in Spain, for which he was affectionately nicknamed “Pablito”.
He achieved his World Cup-winning form, extraordinarily, having recently completed a two-year ban for his involvement in a match-fixing scandal that engulfed Italy’s Serie A and Serie B in 1980.
Having started his career with Juventus, Rossi struggled initially with injuries and, finding few opportunities in the first team, moved to Serie B side Vicenza. There, his fortunes changed and in the 1976-1977 season he finished top scorer as the club won promotion to Serie A. The following season, his form continued and he was again top scorer as Vicenza finished second.
His club form earned him a place in Italy’s squad for the 1978 FIFA World Cup™, where he scored three goals. Soon after, however, he was again plagued by injuries and, looking for regular game time, ended up moving to Perugia.
Following the 1982 FIFA World Cup, he returned to Juventus, where – in addition to the individual honour of the 1982 Ballon d’Or – he won a host of silverware, including the European Cup Winners’ Cup, the Serie A title and the European Cup.
Beset by injuries, Rossi retired early at the age of 30, having scored some of the most important goals in Italian football history.
The 1988 Asian Footballer of the Year, Ahmed Radhi is regarded as one of Iraq’s greatest players of all time. He was best known for scoring the only goal in Iraq’s FIFA World Cup™ campaign at Mexico ‘86.
A prolific goalscorer from a young age, Radhi was quickly called up to the national team thanks to his form with Al Zawraa, his childhood club with whom he would play three stints and later coach.
Having been an important member of the national team seeking qualification to the 1984 Summer Olympics, to his frustration the 20-year-old Radhi was left out of the final squad for Los Angeles 1984. This omission would prove to be a turning point in his career as he returned stronger in 1985, bagging 12 international goals.
His finest moment would come 57 minutes into Iraq’s FIFA World Cup™ group match against Belgium. Outsmarting his marker, the Iraqi striker latched onto Natiq Hashim’s pass and rifled into the far corner from the edge of the box, beating goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff to enter the history books as scorer of Iraq’s first – and to date only – goal at a FIFA World Cup™.
A brief coaching career saw him manage Al Shorta, Al Zawraa and Air Force Club in addition to Iraq U-19s, he also served as a president of Al Zawraa club and as a member of the Iraqi Parliament.
Following a low-key career as an amateur player in his native France, Gérard Houllier pursued a path in education that included time teaching in Liverpool, England. He never lost his passion for the game, however, and swapped teaching for the dugout of second division French side Nœux-les-Mines in 1976.
Houllier's path as a coach took him to Lens and Paris Saint-Germain, where he clinched the French title in 1986, and subsequently to the national team, first as assistant and then an ill-fated period as head coach.
Following a stint in charge of France's U-18 and U-20 sides, he relaunched his career at Liverpool FC in 1998. The high point of Houllier’s time at Anfield came in 2001, when the Merseyside club returned to glory, winning the five trophies, including the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup.
More success followed as Houllier won back-to-back Ligue 1 titles with Lyon in 2006 and 2007, after which he took a step back for health reasons. After ending his management career in 2011, Houllier put his vast knowledge of the game to use as an adviser to clubs and he also served on the FIFA Technical Study Group.
Khamis Al-Owairan Al-Dossari
James Patrick Conway
Members of the club CS Etoile de Guinée killed in a tragic road accident in Timbo, Guinea
Andre Ryder Charlery
Vinayak P. Pradhan
Sheikh Isa bin Rashid Al Khalifa
Léon-Michel Inyangi Bokinda
Pradip Kumar Banerjee
Ifeanyi George and Emmanuel Ogbu
José Luis Capón
Said Mohamed Duale
Gregorio “Goyo” Benito
Alh Ousman Basi Conateh
Aluísio Francisco da Luz “Índio”
Noureddine Ben Yahmed “Diwa”
Tomás Balcázar González
Eddy Pieters Graafland
Jaime Bruzaca de Menezes
Amador Suárez Villa
Abdiwali Olad Kanyare
Tomás Felipe Carlovich
Pedro Pablo “Perico” León
Khair Al-Sayed Abdelgader
Douga Ahmat Fathi
Jaswant Singh Sran
Gerhard “Gerd“ Strack
Héctor “Pochín” Ochoa
Luigi “Gigi” Simoni
José Roberto Figueroa
Oswaldo Fumeiro Alvarez “Vadão”
Marcelino Vaquero González del Río
Umar Ahmad Jalingo
Mc Millan Medard
Deibert Frans Román Guzmán
Rosa Canales Cevallos
Anton “Toni” Bucheli
Aarón Padilla Gutiérrez
Mário José dos Reis Emiliano “Marinho”
Dr Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Mah
Arturo “Curita” Chaires
Badara Mamaya Sène
Carlos Luis Morales
Emeka Esanga Mamale
Volodymyr Mykolayovych Troshkin
Alhaji Momodo Njie “Biri Biri”
César Luis Salinas Sinka
Gabriel Ochoa Uribe
Vladimir “Vladica” Popović
Georg “Schorsch” Volkert
Papa Sarr Corr
George F. Gomez
Eduardo José Gomes Cameselle Mendez “Dito”
Jean Claude Sendeoli
Alhaji Musa Duhu
Eight young players killed following a road accident in Offinso, Ghana
Daniele De Santis
Abdul Mahdi Hadi Taher
Wálter Machado da Silva
Dr Paul Marealle
Rodolfo José Fischer
Juan Cruz Sol
Oswald Wilkinson Larcher
Mohand Chérif Hannachi
Willem “Pim“ Doesburg
Rudy del Rosario
Augustin Sidy Diallo
Général Séyi Mémène
Diego Armando Maradona
Papa Bouba Diop
Dr Eduardo Rocca Couture
Dudu Emmah Dube
Benedito Custódio Ferreira “Escurinho”
Agbéwanou Antoine Edoh
Adela Camacho de Torrebiarte
Dato’ Namat Abdullah
Hari Raj Naicker