Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona turns 60 today

Argentina football legend Diego Maradona turned 60 on Friday. Widely rated as one of the greatest football players of all time, Maradona played in four FIFA World Cups and was captain of the Argentine team that won the 1986 tournament.

In an interview with French weekly French Football, Maradona joked that that he dreams of scoring another ‘Hand of God’, but this time with his right hand. “I dream of scoring another goal against England but with my right hand,” he said.

Maradona’s performance in Argentina’s quarter-final match against heated rivals England immortalised him in his country’s culture. He scored twice in Argentina’s 2-1 win in that match. The first goal was scored with his hand and his explanation in the immediate aftermath that he had made contact with the ball “a little with his head, and a little with the hand of God”, led to the goal being known as “The Hand of God”.

Four minutes later, Maradona went on a 60-yard run with the ball from midfield, dribbling past six English players, and ended the move with a feint that left goalkeeper Peter Shilton on the ground, and scored what has since been called “The Goal of the Century”.

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Diego Maradona’s autographed shirt is displayed at a community eatery in Buenos Aires

Maradona’s excesses and struggles with drug addiction was just as famous as his ability with the ball. This was testified by the fact that he was sent home from the 1994 World Cup after a failed drug test. He played only two matches in the tournament, the second of which was also the last of his illustrious international career.

Born in a slum area in the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires on October 30, 1960, Maradona made his senior debut for Buenos Aires-based Argentinos Juniors in 1976. He went on to a play for Argentine giants Boca Juniors in the 1981-82 season. He then shifted to Europe where he spent two tumultous seasons with Spanish giants Barcelona. His tenure with the Catalan club ended with a nasty brawl that triggered crowd trouble in the 1984 Copa del Rey final.

Maradona then went to Italian club Napoli, where he had arguably the most productive period of his career. He won two Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia and one UEFA Cup in his seven seasons with the club, leaving as their all-time highest goalscorer, a record that stood until Marek Hamsik overtook his tally in 2017. He went on to spend a season each at Spanish club Sevilla and Argentine club Newell’s Old Boys before ending his career at Boca Juniors.

As a coach, Maradona notably managed Argentina between 2008 and 2010. He currently manages Argentine club Gimnasia.

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