When one mentions the name of Maradona, most would remember THAT game against England in 1986 with the “Hand of God” goal and the silky dribble that annihilated the English defence. Most of us these days know very little else about Maradona’s career and will most likely continue to know little not because he did not have other moments that added to him being considered one of the best in the game but due to his epic fall from grace.
Maradona started off in poverty and had to make use of his talent to fight his way out just like a lot of other players from the South Americas. He got the dream move to Barcelona in 1982 after impressing with both Boca Juniors and Argentina (at the 1982 World Cup).
That is where the start of most of his troubles began unfortunately. He began to take cocaine (a substance that would become a mainstay in his life) on a regular basis and was involved in a number of arguments and altercations with members of his own club and others in the course of matches. He was banned for his part in the fight with the Bilbao team which led him to join Napoli instead of serving it.
His move to Italy only brought his career further into turmoil, with his cocaine addiction spiralling out of control. On the pitch, he was still Maradona but off it came rumours of extra-marital affairs, children out of wedlock, tax evasion allegations and even rumours of ties with the Italian mafia.
It all came to a climax for him in Italy when he was busted in a drug test and banned for 15 months by Napoli in 1991, ending his time in Serie A. Later that same year, he was busted for possessing cocaine in Buenos Aires and was given a 14-month suspended sentence.
His final outing for his country came in 1994, where a superb goal against Greece in the Group Stages of the World Cup was overshadowed by a wild celebration and a positive test for a banned substance. He was kicked out of the Argentina squad before FIFA could hand down a judgement and given a 15-month ban, ending his international career.
He moved back to Argentina soon after but again tested positive in 1997 for banned substances and cocaine which ended his playing career altogether.
Maradona has since still seen himself as a “God”, often in the headlines for the wrong reasons. He suffered an overdose in 2000 and a heart attack in 2004, was forced to have gastric bypass surgery in 2005 and suffered from hepatitis in 2007. Medical issues aside, he was seen pointing his middle fingers when Argentina beat Nigeria in the World Cup in 2018, has never missed a chance to talk about how great he was and also sat in a throne when managing Gimnasia in Argentina.
Maradona was truly a great player but due to his own merit, should never be considered one of the greatest as he is simply too controversial a character to be considered so. They say a lot can be said about a player’s career by the way they ended it and for Maradona, his playing days were already under scrutiny way before his eventual retirement and the multiple bans.