Diego Maradona died of a heart attack less than a month after he was 60.
The Argentine soccer legend died at home, his lawyer said, just three weeks after an operation on a blood clot in his brain.
Maradona won the 1986 World Cup with Argentina after knocking England out of the tournament in a match in which he scored the infamous “Hand of God” goal and what is widely considered to be one of the greatest goals of all time.
Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time on the pitch, his life off the pitch was equally infamous – amid struggles with drug and alcohol addiction.
Diego Maradona, Argentine soccer legend and one of the greatest to ever play the game, has died at the age of 60 (pictured as the 1986 World Cup winner).
LAST PICTURE: Maradona’s death comes just three weeks after an operation on a blood clot in his brain (picture) and less than a month after he was 60 years old
Maradona’s Hand of God was responsible for excluding England from the 1986 World Cup
During his time at Napoli, he won the Serie A title in 1987 and 1990, an Italian Cup in 1987 and a Uefa Cup in 1991.
Hand of God was “vengeance for the Falkland Islands”
While Maradona is known as one of the greatest players of all time, there is also a moment of shame in his legacy when he passed the ball past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals.
Maradona spoke without remorse last year, calling the target “symbolic vengeance on the English” for the Falklands War.
Speaking of the game played four years after the war – which ended in the British victory – Maradona said, “The hype made it seem like we were playing another war.
I knew it was my hand. It wasn’t my plan, but the action happened so quickly that the linesman couldn’t see me put my hand in it. The referee looked at me and said, “Aim.”
“It was a nice feeling like a kind of symbolic revenge on the English.”
But even in these years his cocaine addiction prevailed. In 1991, the year he left the club, he was suspended for 15 months for drug abuse.
In 1994 he was kicked out of the America’s World Cup after a failed drug test before being eliminated from football in 1997.
In 1999 and 2000 he was hospitalized with heart problems. For the second time a ventilator had to breathe.
In 2004, he was again hospitalized for severe heart and breathing problems related to his substance abuse.
He has had two gastric bypass surgeries to control his weight and has been treated for alcohol abuse.
In January he had an operation to stop bleeding in his stomach and in July he had an operation on his knee.
He was hospitalized three weeks ago for an operation on a blood clot in his brain before he was released to recover at home.
He died there on Wednesday.
His football career also included turns on the pitch for Barcelona, Sevilla, Boca Juniors and Newell’s Old Boys. Most recently he was the manager of Gimnasia y Esgrima in La Plata, Argentina.
He also headed the Argentina national team at the 2010 South Africa World Cup.
The Argentine news agency Clarin brought the news to the UK on Wednesday afternoon, describing the news of Maradona’s death as “having worldwide impact”.
The sad news was confirmed by Maradona’s lawyer. Soon honors poured in from all over the world of football.
Maradona left the hospital on November 11, just eight days after being admitted for emergency brain surgery.
The famous former Argentine soccer player was evicted from the private Olivos Clinic just before 6 p.m. on November 11 when hundreds of fans of photographers tried to get a look at him.
Maradona was hospitalized last week and had to undergo emergency surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain.
Maradona was recently hospitalized for surgery after suffering a cerebral haemorrhage
Maradona introduced himself at the 2018 World Cup while watching Argentina from the executive branch
Argentinian television reporters riding motorcycles filmed the ambulance as it left it before following the vehicle to cover every inch of its journey.
His lawyer Matias Morlahas said the 60-year-old would continue to be treated for alcohol addiction.
Maradona, the coach of Gimnasia y Esgrima in his home country, had been hospitalized several times since retiring. He nearly died of cocaine-related heart failure in 2000 and was rehabilitated for years.
Maradona, known for his wild lifestyle during and after his active days, had gastric bypass surgery to lose weight in 2005 and was re-hospitalized two years later for alcohol-related hepatitis.
He also fell ill at the last World Cup in Russia, where he passed out in an executive box when Argentina went up against Nigeria in Group D and beat them.
MARADONA’S LONG HISTORY OF DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE
Maradona began using cocaine in the mid-1980s – during its heyday, he developed an addiction to drugs and alcohol over the next two decades.
His drug use began in 1982 and reportedly got worse in 1984 when he moved to Napoli and had connections with the Comorra.
In 2014, Maradona said of his drug use: “I gave my opponents a huge advantage. Do you know the gamer I could have been if I hadn’t been doing drugs? ‘
His first real punishment came in 1991 when he was banned from Napoli for 15 months after testing positive for cocaine. Later that year he was arrested in Buenos Aires for possessing half a kilo of cocaine and given a 14-month suspended sentence.
In 1994, Maradona was back in the Argentine national team and made headlines around the world for a now famous screaming celebration in the camera lens after a goal against Greece. However, his tournament was due to end early after he was expelled days later for testing positive for five variants of ephedrine, a banned substance. He was banned for 15 months and ended his international career.
In 1995 he moved to Boca Juniors, but two years later he failed a drug test for the third time in six years, ending his career as a player. Officially, a “banned substance” is all that has been revealed about this test, but Boca President Mauricio Macri has said in interviews that cocaine was found in a urine sample.
In 1996, Maradona said publicly: “I was, am and will always be a drug addict.”
The football legend suffered an overdose in 2000 and a heart attack in 2004. He had gastric bypass surgery a year later, and was hospitalized again in 2007, this time with hepatitis.
It is then assumed that he stopped using drugs and told a journalist in 2017 that he had not used drugs for 13 years and felt “great”.
He has been drinking alcohol since 2004 and made headlines at the 2018 World Cup for his bizarre antics at a number of games in Argentina. A video was made of him drinking tequila on an airplane claiming he “drank all the wine” before defeating Nigeria.
OBITUARY: A genius in the field and a flawed idol, Diego Maradona rose from the poverty of the Buenos Aires slums to become one of the greatest of all time, despite controversy everywhere following him
By Jeff Powell for MailOnline
For many, Diego Maradona is best known for the goal of the Hand of God, which drove England out of Mexico in 86 and later turned into drugs.
But Jeff Powell, who was the first British journalist to recognize his genius, believes the little Argentine should be hailed as the greatest player (Bar 1) to grace the game.
Diego Maradona, one of the ultimate legends of football, died at the age of 60
Two nights after Argentina’s tumultuous 1978 World Cup win, the streets of Buenos Aires were still filled with millions of celebrities when Cesar Luis Menotti held court in the bar of a downtown hotel.
The indolent football manager enjoyed the moment of fame with his heroes.
When Menotti toasted with Passarella and Ardiles, Kempes and Luque, a small figure sat in a dark corner, too small to be noticed and too young to drink.
Diego Armando Maradona only occupied a vague corner of Menotti’s thoughts.
The boy slipped early into the night and it wasn’t until dawn that Menotti had reason to discuss the future of this almost anonymous teenager.
Mario Kempes, the top scorer of the World Cup and the extraordinary final against Holland, had just told his manager that he was unlikely to be sacked by his Spanish club for the FIFA Jubilee Showpiece game, which Argentina signed a few months later .
As the players dispersed, I asked Menotti how he could replace the big Kempes for such a prestigious occasion.
“Did you notice the boy in the bar earlier?” he asked. “He’ll be wearing No. 10 jersey the next time we step into the field.
Maradona was one of the most gifted athletes of all time, despite being maligned in England in 1986 for his “Hand of God” goal against Bobby Robson’s team in Mexico
Maradona became a symbol of hope for his country when he rose from the slums of Buenos Aires to play for Boca Juniors (above) and then achieved World Cup glory with Argentina
“Let me give you some advice. To be there.’ Maradona had been disappointed to be considered too young at 17 to be part of the 1978 home glory. But the advent of the improbable-looking genius who was to become Pele’s coat of the greatest footballer of all time as the toughest challenger wouldn’t be delayed for much longer.
As recommended, I traveled to Switzerland this fall and watched in awe as Maradona unfolded his phenomenal talent in Argentina repeating the World Cup final against Holland.
So much was my enthusiasm for the new world game boy prodigy that some of my most respected colleagues in sports writing gently accused me of being over the top. But they hadn’t been there.
When Argentina traveled on from Switzerland, first to Hampden Park, then to Wembley, the rest of Fleet Street saw Maradona’s brilliance – and was amazed.
It is not for nothing that the whole world of football is now going to mourn.
The slight tendency in England to denigrate Maradona as nothing more than the culprit at the handball goal, which Bobby Robson’s brigade defeated in the Mexico 86 World Cup quarter-finals, does not do justice to one of the most gifted athletes of all time.
As Menotti described him on that long, hot night so many years ago, “You will see this boy, Diego, is a footballer made in heaven.”
His rise went well beyond his homeland – Maradona’s ability makes him one of the best players of all time alongside Brazilian icon Pele. Here the legendary attackers are pictured together in Paris in 2016 before this year’s European championship
Argentina’s love affair with their flawed phenomenon is all the stronger now that he was born in the barrios.
When Maradona rose from the poverty of the Buenos Aires slums to play for the team that embodied every poor boy’s dream, Boca Juniors, and then shed light on the exploits of the Argentine World Cup, he became the symbol of hope for a people.
The fact that he is a rascal, an incorrigible mischief maker, a restless person and ultimately a waste of his own talent only makes him more attractive to his compatriots.
They want their genius to be controversial and volatile in South America.
This was one reason Pele was so reluctant to hug the natural heir to his throne. The other was that Maradona posed the most menacing challenge to the legendary Brazilian’s unique place in the game’s pantheon.
The unlikely body in which these mercury gifts were to be found – short, stocky, bowlegged, and neckless – made Maradona’s status in Pele’s beautiful game all the more difficult to recognize.
But it was this low center of gravity that blessed Diego Armando with a remarkable skill in turning and accelerating the ball. It was this ability to develop magical skills at an electrifying pace, especially in the deadly zone around the gate – what still sets Maradona apart from the exalted people like Zidane, Ronaldo, Cruyff, Platini, and all of Peles’ other apostles.
It was Maradona herself who described this goal against England in 1986 as “The Hand of God”.
The most graphic demonstration of these talents, as we should remember, took place against England in Mexico.
Robson and his former players remember it all too well.
No, not the cross that was slid in with his hand, but the other goal he scored with a dazzling pirouette from a group of English players, an unstoppable run from the center line and a typically cheeky finish. It’s still the greatest World Cup goal of all time.
But what about the hand of God?
Doesn’t that affect Maradona’s reputation as well as his wrong life?
Not if you press for the truth, according to Lineker, Robson and Co.
Whisper it softly when Peter Shilton is within earshot, but for the most part, the English side accused their goalkeeper of failing to hit their short Maradona through the head and body to clear the ball. A calm examination of the photo of that incident now shows Maradona with her eyes closed and arm raised, as if to protect himself from the anticipated effects of Shilton’s advance from his line.
He then fell victim to his own clever little phrase to describe this momentous event.
Maradona and Argentina deserve to win this World Cup. Four years later, he was the captain and hero of the team that lost that trophy, and I mean hero.
Argentina stumbled under the self-inflicted handicap of several bans as a result of their cynical football in the final, which Germany reached after their penalty shootout against England.
But Maradona was still trying to work his magic, despite being practically crippled by opponents who were desperate to subdue him. He showed me his ankles two days before the final – a lost proposition in Argentina’s case – and they were as black, blue and puffy as his self-abused body is now.
When he came to the US in 1994, he was on drugs and after a magical but manic moment, was caught and embarrassed by the testers.
Though he was wrong about holding onto the failed glories, from that moment on he was a lost soul.
The addiction, the scandals, the physical attacks on intrusive media representatives and the retreat to such absurd havens as Havana all spoke of his desperation.
Argentina still loved him, but he no longer loved each other.
When Maradona (middle) came to the US World Cup in 1994, he was on drugs and after a magical but manic moment, he was caught and embarrassed by the testers
Maradona saw himself for what he is, the fat little boy who never grew up.
In the eyes of his nation he was Peter Pan, an adorable child, albeit in a grotesque, misshapen form.
Now, after bringing so much joy to so many, he deserves a full measure of sympathy.
Do not think of him as the hand of God. Think of him as the second greatest footballer of all time. Maybe the greatest.
Don’t think of him as a drugged fiend. Think of him as a broken doll in a toy hospital. A Pinocchio is waiting for the gift of life.
This blessing that the hand of God had given several times. Until the Almighty decided that the time had come to bring peace to this tormented soul.