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.