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Maradona news : maradona death,Football legend

Maradona news : maradona death,Football legend

Maradona death

World football champion with the Argentina team in 1986, player in Barcelona then in Naples, the former number 10, as hated as he was adored, a time protected from the mafia and incurable cocaine addict, died on Wednesday in the age of 60.

The flickering shadow of a former football champion enters the Juan-Carmelo-Zerillo stadium in La Plata, south-east of Buenos Aires, this Friday, October 30, 2020. Swaddled in a black tracksuit, his face half hidden by a mask of the same color, Diego Maradona came to attend the first match, in seven months, of the professional team of which he is the coach, Gimnasia La Plata. It is also his birthday. In a stadium empty of supporters, Covid-19 obliges, but where there are banners to his glory, a brief ceremony, with presentation of trophies and hugs, awaits him.

Maradona is 60 years old, but her body looks fifteen or twenty older. Two cerberus help him to walk or raise his arm, before going to sit him on an armchair in the shape of a throne, on which he will not stay long as soon as the kickoff is given. The last public appearance of the former No. 10 did not bode well. Hospitalized three days later to be operated on for a subdural hematoma, Diego Maradona died of a heart attack, his spokesperson announced on Wednesday, November 25.

The death of a champion is always a sad event. That of "Pibe de Oro" ("the golden kid"), as Argentina continued to call him, will awaken deep antagonisms among football fans. Few athletes will have, like him, fed with such zeal the two opposing centers of supporterism, which are adulation and detestation. The author of the “Football legend” , the protege of the Neapolitan mafia, the friend of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, the incurable cocaine addict was not an altar boy or a model of virtue, far from it. He will nevertheless remain as one of the greatest players in football history. A balloon genius with insolent inspiration.

Buenos Aires slum

His poor origins helped shape the “Maradona myth” in the Argentinian popular imagination, especially among the poorest. Despite his escapades and his downfall, his fans loved him to the end of a visceral, unconditional and eternal love. International icon, he inspired the filmmaker Emir Kusturica (with the documentary Maradona , released in 2008), the anti-globalist singer Manu Chao (who dedicated the song Santa Maradona to him , in 1994), the novelist Alicia Dujovne Ortiz ( Maradona is me , La Découverte, 1993) or many Argentinian rock groups, like Los Piojos ("the Lice"), one of whose hits assures us that 'if Diego, tomorrow, plays in heaven, they will die only to be able to see him. to play'.

His story is one of those, ultimately quite classic, which lead from glory to degradation, from the brilliant to the sordid. It begins in a shanty town on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, where he was born on October 30, 1960. In his autobiography, Moi, Diego (Calmann-Lévy, 2001), the player recounts with emotion this penniless childhood: “I keep a happy memory of my childhood, although if I had to define Villa Fiorito, the neighborhood where I was born and grew up, with one word, I would choose the word struggle. In Villa Fiorito, when there was food, we ate, otherwise, we didn't eat. "

"Playing football gave me a unique peace"

There is no running water or electricity in the humble three-room hut where Diego shares a room of a few square meters with his seven brothers and sisters. His father, Don Diego, emigrated from his native province of Corrientes to seek work in the capital. He is a worker in a factory where bones are crushed for the chemical industry. When his mother, Dona Tota, sends him shopping, Diego always has something like a ball on his feet: “An orange, balls of paper or rag. 'Today, the slum has changed little but a few blocks bear the name of Diego Armando Maradona'. In the dirt streets, skeletal dogs are still looking for something to eat, barefoot children still play football.

Maradona dead

At 3, Diego received his first leather ball as a gift. “Playing football gave me a unique peace,” he says. He plays with his friends on a vacant lot, between rusty cans and broken bottles. Tree trunks serve as goals. His brown curls earned him a first nickname - he would have many more: Pelusa ("Plush"). Like all Argentinian kids, he dreams of becoming a professional player.

"I must have matured too quickly"

Diego first joined “Estrella roja” (“Red Star”), a neighborhood team formed by his father. In 1969, he was spotted by a coach of Argentinos Juniors, a professional club which had a team under 14, the “Cebollitas” (“Little Onions”). He is so thin, and so small, that he is sometimes taken for a dwarf. But his talent is undeniable.

Very quickly, the child of Villa Fiorito appeared on television. His dribbling and passing amazes. The press announces the appearance of a crack. Fans pay entry to the stadium only to see him play. "In the age of fairy tales, Diego Maradona listens to ovations" , headlines a daily. “I must have matured too quickly,” the midfielder later confessed. To be closer to the stadium, his family moved to the capital, to the neighborhood of Villa del Parque. It was there, barely out of childhood, that he met his future wife, Claudia Villafane. They did not get married until 1989 - with great fanfare - after the birth of their two daughters.

The angel Maradona, already curly and chubby, was not yet 16 years old, on October 20, 1976, when he played his first professional match under the colors of Argentinos Juniors. Three months later, he was selected for the national team against Hungary. Foreign recruiters are interested in him, advertisers too. He soon became the face of the Puma, Coca-Cola and Agfa brands. For many,  he embodies the future of world football.

World Cup 1978, the "worst injustice"

At 18, the prodigy also knows what he saw as the “worst injustice” of his career. The coach Cesar Luis Menotti considers him too tender to participate in the Mundial of 1978, organized by the Argentina of dictator Jorge Videla. “I have never forgiven Menotti, and I will never forgive him,” Maradona confided. This sidelining is all the more badly lived as Argentina won the first world title in its history.

Menotti's decision gives the very patriotic Maradona an eternal taste for revenge, it inflates him with an energy that will direct him towards the better or the worse. He began by taking his revenge, in 1979, in Tokyo, where the Argentine junior team was crowned world champion. The same year, against Scotland, in Glasgow, he scored his first goal in the jersey, this time, for the great Argentine selection. He will never have as much pleasure as under the sky blue and white colors of the national team (91 caps, 34 goals).

In a club too, his situation is changing. In 1981, the most prestigious formation in Buenos Aires, River Plate, offered him to leave Argentinos Juniors. But he finally opts for another team from the capital: Boca Juniors, eternal rival of River Plate. The kid from the suburbs now drives a Mercedes.

After becoming an idol at Boca Juniors, he transferred in 1982 to FC Barcelona. Amount of the transaction: $ 7 million, a huge sum for the time. Alas, the Catalan experience, although marked by some exploits, will not know the expected success. Suffering from hepatitis, victim of numerous injuries, Maradona has a stormy relationship with his first trainer in Catalonia, the German Udo Lattek. It was not until 1984, and his transfer to Naples, to know the consecration in Europe. On the other side of the Mediterranean, the enfant terrible of football will take its full measure. Its excessiveness, rather.

Naples, the passion

When he landed in a helicopter on the lawn of the San Paolo stadium on July 5, 1984, the 60,000 supporters of SSC Napoli were far from imagining what a story of love and passion is being formed between this pocket footballer ( 1.66 m, 70 kg) and their city. The Argentinean may claim a Neapolitan grandmother, he is just one of those balloon mercenaries ready to change horizons at the slightest financial request. Naples is already wondering how the club, whose funds often ring hollow, was able to secure the services of this 23-year-old virtuoso and convince him that he has a future in this training without record.

At the foot of Vesuvius, there is already a rumor that the Camorra has lent its assistance to collect the 65 million francs of the time, and that "Dieguito" will only make a stopover in Campania, to take off very quickly after returning on investment. How could they have known, the kids of the Spanish quarter, that the best player in the world - with Michel Platini, then at Juventus Turin - would stay with them for seven years? That he would make the sky blue jersey of this modest club a standard shared by more than six million supporters around the world? That those years (1984-1991) would be those of a shared apotheosis, the most beautiful for Naples as for its golden kid?

Never had a club from the South won the Italian championship. Maradona, at the height of his art, offered the famous scudetto (title of champion) to the little Neapolitan people during his third season, in 1987. The city was forever consoled for its recent misfortunes, the 1972 cholera or the earthquake of 1980. If San Gennaro - the patron saint of the city - is no longer enough, she will willingly put herself under the protection of her god Diego. The crater of San Paolo and its 70,000 glowing spectators has become a more impressive volcano than Vesuvius for visiting teams.

Maradona brought to the humblest what they lacked the most: pride

There will be another national title, in 1990, and a European trophy (UEFA Cup in 1989). But the track record does not say everything. Maradona brought to the humblest what they lacked the most: pride. It doesn't matter that he earns millions, that he drives a Ferrari, that he lives in the chic Posillipo district, light years away from the seedy streets of Portella and its bassi, basement apartments where large families. The Argentinian has made himself the spokesperson for this despised southern Italy north of Rome, especially in football stadiums. "Neapolitans, welcome to Italy", "Long live the champions of Africa"   or even "Hitler, you forgot the Neapolitans", could we read on the racist banners when the Napoli traveled to Milan.

The fusion link between Naples and Maradona lasted a long time. The city will forgive him for his excesses. We smile when he charters a charter flight to bring his Italian friends to Buenos Aires in November 1989 for his wedding. We smile less when the daughter of a hairdresser from the Fuorigrotta district says that he expects a little Diego Armando Junior from him, and that he refuses to submit to a paternity test. But Naples forgives. His idol has an impossible character, reprehensible behavior, questionable associates? Never mind. In the field, he is the best. We lend a fan under the spell this joke - invented or true, who knows? : 'if this is a dream, don't wake me up'.

1986: Argentina at his feet

All Argentina also dreams of each of the four World Cups contested by the artist. Between Maradona and the Mundial, it's a story of love, crowds and tears, jubilation and disillusionment. Organized in Spain, the 1982 edition sees him play on the lawn of the Nou Camp, the stadium of FC Barcelona,   and score against Belgium, but Argentina, defending champion, must despite everything bow and pack up prematurely. Maradona is enraged; he leaves Spain with a reputation for being a bad boy.

Angel or demon. Genius or cheater. Cheater, for sure. World Cup, 1986, in Mexico this time. Argentina-England: a highly symbolic poster for the quarter-finals. Four years earlier, the Falklands War pitted the two countries. At the Azteca stadium in Mexico City, there is an air of revenge. A whole people are waiting for an Argentine victory over British "imperialism" and obviously counting on Maradona to achieve it.

After a lackluster first half, receiving an aerial cross, the idol ahead of the exit of English goalkeeper Peter Shilton and lodges the ball - with his hand - into the opposing net. Her Majesty's players scream. Ali Bennaceur, the Tunisian referee, did not see the fault and validates the goal. The televised slow motion, the photographs, peeled, will prove the imposture. It is the “hand of God”, explains the player in one of his most famous lines.

But the game is not over. The best is yet to come. Like a comeback after a five-minute purgatory. Maradona, excited, receives the ball in his half of the field, 5 meters from the center line. He pivots, starts off with a bang, slalom between Peter Reid and Peter Beardsley, thrusts his back to hook Terry Butcher, then Terry Fenwick, unbalances Butcher who tries in vain to tackle him, and deceives Peter Shilton a second time with a shot , at the near post, with his magical left foot. A masterpiece of purpose. An eleven-second treat. The stadium sings: “Maradona! Maradona! » Replied: « Argentina! Argentina! " At a press conference, the phenomenon will boast of another reflection that will shape its legend: " It's a great goal, but it's no wonder. Raquel Welch is a marvel, but not a goal.  "

The English beaten, the way is opened for the winning of the trophy. In the semi-final, Maradona scored two goals against Belgium. In the final, against Germany, he did not score, but offered the winning goal (3-2) to Jorge Burruchaga. He takes his revenge on Menotti and the affront of his non-selection in 1978: Argentina is at his feet.

Neapolitan decay

In four appearances in the finals of the World Cup, this will be his only title. Maradona will play a total of 21 matches at this level, score eight goals and fall in the final in Italy in 1990 against Germany (1-0). Unforgettable final moreover, less for its footballing quality than for the attitude of the captain of the selection albiceleste. The Stadio Olimpico of Rome copiously whistled the Argentinian anthem: “Hijo de puta” (son of a bitch), we see him mutter to the public. At the end of the meeting, his cries of a kid deprived of his rattle will go around the world.

Four years later, he is still at the World Cup, in the United States, for his most pitiful participation. His reputation as a drug addict precedes him. On June 25, 1994, against Greece, he scored a nice goal after a swaying dribble. But he was expelled from the United States immediately after, following a positive ephedrine doping test. Without him, Argentina is eliminated.

The forfeiture of Don Diego's son does not date from the summer of 1994. It dates back to the Neapolitan years. In 1991, the player was involved in a drug trafficking case between France and southern Italy. Telephone tapping reveals that he was demanding “goods and women” from local thugs. His relations with Luigi Giuliano, the godfather of a Camorrist clan deemed violent, are displayed in the newspapers. The champion tries a pirouette, shouts to the plot: "I think more and more of a vendetta against me, perhaps for a match that we won when we should have lost it. "

The spell is broken, not only because of business, but above all because, with the ball to the foot, Diego is no longer Diego

The effect is disastrous. Here is relaunched the hypothesis of rigged results for the "totonero", a system of illegal betting on football matches organized by the Mafia. The spell is broken, not only because of the extra-sporting affairs, but above all because, with the ball to the foot, Diego is no longer Diego. The brilliant pixie is thickened, he walks his extra pounds on a senator's train, weighed down by his excess of good food, his nightlife, his increasingly frequent encounters with cocaine. On Sunday afternoon, near San Paolo, pagan vespers are no longer celebrated with the same fervor. From the stands, we have for this 30-year-old footballer who has become quite ordinary the looks reserved for Judas. For the tifosi, Maradona began to betray in 1989, when he made public his contacts with the Olympique de Marseille of Bernard Tapie. There are things that Naples cannot forgive.

The divorce will be consummated on March 21, 1991. After a match against Bari, he tested positive for cocaine. Suspended for eighteen months, he fled discreetly to Argentina. He will never wear the Napoli jersey again, with which he scored 115 goals in 259 matches. He was transferred to Sevilla FC in October 1992 for a tidy sum (37.5 million francs), intended to cover the debts left in Naples.

A slow and inexorable tumble

Drugs, trafficking and mafias of all kinds, excesses, provocations, questionable friendships will now mark the end of his career. When exactly did the first prank, the first gap, the first warning sign of an inevitable downfall? Hard to say. Champions, idols, sometimes sink when the spotlight and cheers go away. Not in his case.

“It's in Barcelona that my relationship with drugs begins,” says the idol in his autobiography: “Overall, my stay in Barcelona was painful. Hepatitis, fracture, Catalan mentality. But also because in Barcelona I fell under the influence of drugs. And in the worst possible way: when you enter the world of drugs, you refuse at first, but you end up giving in. "

From then on, his life will be a slow and inexorable tumble. Shortly after his return to Argentina in the spring of 1991, he was arrested for cocaine use and imprisoned. In 1994, he went to court again for shooting journalists with rifles (he was later sentenced to two years in prison). His final dribbling, in the Argentinian championship, under the colors of Newell's Old Boys (1993-1994) and Boca Juniors (1995-1997), will not be more convincing: as a personal trainer, Maradona does not find better than himself. secure the services of Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, himself suspended for life for doping. At the end of 1997, he tested positive for cocaine again. 'No one will make me believe that drugs or money have changed my feelings,he will write. Nothing. I remain the same, the one always. It's me, Maradona. It's me, Diego'.

When he landed in Havana on January 17, 2000, Diego Armando Maradona was no longer himself, however. Puffy, shaggy, his face expressionless, his step uncertain: he is not even 40 years old, but he is a worn-out man, tired from too much excess, who arrives in the Cuban capital. A month earlier, he suffered a heart attack after an overdose of cocaine. His heart is 62% deteriorated, his doctor then estimates, his general state of health is defined as "serious and serious". The player is dead, the man is broken, at the end of the race. Cuba will be its last real home port.

Ephemeral coach of the Albiceleste

Naples loved him at the end of the 1980s: he nevertheless left Italy like a thief, or almost. Argentina still adores the player who offered him the 1986 World Cup, she retains immense affection for him, but also ends up getting annoyed by the excesses, rowdy statements, detoxification cures, positive doping controls. Fidel Castro offers him to hold a conference in front of sportsmen in Havana.

Do part of the Cuban people recognize themselves in this man born poor and who, despite his successes, his money, still seems a little lost and misunderstood? Cuba welcomes in any case as a hero this cousin of Che Guevara - whose effigy he will have tattooed on his arm. Diego Maradona chooses another life, another city, a second homeland. He moved to Havana in order to undergo drug treatment, but never managed to really cure himself.

Fidel Castro has found himself an ambassador of choice. Maradona will in fact never stop criticizing the American embargo hitting his country: "I prefer Castro's Cuba a thousand times to Bush's America." What the United States is doing in Cuba is a cruel and dirty war. Nothing can enter Cuba, not even drugs. It means that children, babies are dying. "

Victim of heart failure in 2004, he successfully underwent gastric bypass surgery which caused him to lose 40 kg. A year later, we find him alongside Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on the occasion of the fourth Summit of the Americas, organized in Mar del Plata (Argentina), wearing a T-shirt on which is written "STOP BUSH" ( with Bush's “s” shaped like a swastika). His repeated health problems (bulimia, hypertension, alcoholism, etc.) did not prevent him from enjoying the joys of the field again: in October 2008, he was appointed head of the Argentina national team, which he manages to qualify, with difficulty, for the 2010 World Cup.

Criticized by the press, which regularly questions his tactical abilities, he strongly attacks the media, with a lot of insults with sexual connotations (which will earn him fines and suspension). A painful elimination against Germany in the quarter-finals of the South African World Cup (0-4) leads him to the exit. His tax arrears forcing him to continue working, Maradona will then pursue an erratic career as a technician who will see him lead second-class clubs in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, Belarus and Mexico. Until this umpteenth return to his native country, as coach of the oldest of the Argentinian clubs, the Gimnasia de La Plata, created in 1887.

On numerous occasions in recent years, rumors have put him on the verge of death, or indeed dead. Diego Maradona the pious knew he was on borrowed time for a long time. In 1997, health concerns had earned him this confession: “It is obvious that I am in direct connection with the big bearded man. "

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