Name: Diego Armando MARADONA Franco
Born: October 30th 1960, Lanús, Argentina
Height: 1,65 m 5tf 5in
Position: Central Attacking Midfielder
Left foot technique, he could pass, shoot and dribble with amazing perfection and accuracy; despite his low size, he had the strength to hold the ball and sustain contact and at the same time, keeping his head high and be able to produce the goods with his fantastic vision to see his team players moves; leadership and desire to win, he could inspire his team players with his contagious will of winning and do thing well.
1986 – World Cup Winner (Argentina);
1987 and 1990, Italian Serie A Winner (Napoli);
1989 – Uefa Cup Winner (Napoli);
1979 – World Youth Championship Winner (Argentina);
First time I heard about Maradona I was probably 4/5 years old and I remember seeing him playing with Barcelona, it was probably 1984…everybody had the feeling that there was something special about him, even a child like me would feel that, seeing him playing.
When Mexico 1986 World Cup came he was clearly the star of the tournament. I remember seeing Argentina vs Italy live on TV, a game from the group phase, when he scored an amazing goal that left me stunned, but the real show was on the quarter finals, when he did the performance of his life against England, scoring probably the two famous goals ever and me, as an innocent child of almost 7 years old thought, Maradona and Argentina will win the World Cup because they are the best and this competition will be like a movie with a happy and fair end. And yes it happened…my next memory came from the final against West Germany when he didn´t score, but provided key assists to his partners and he raised the cup around that Azteca Stadium with such an happiness face that is unforgettable and is described on his own words as his most “sublime” moment and he felt like he was “touching heaven”.
After this, he focused mainly on Napoli his new team after quitting Barcelona. I don’t have a lot of memories about Napoli years, as I didn´t follow Italian League quite regularly but I saw the Uefa Cup games on 1988/1989 and the final against VFB Stuttgart was a really good game when Maradona showed to the world that he had turned Napoli into a very good team, able to win a prestigious trophy like the Uefa Cup for the first time. Next season, 1989/1990 he curiously came to Portugal, to play Sporting Lisbon, but the highlight of the season was the second Serie A title with Napoli. And then the Italy 1990 World Cup arrived…
I was 10 years old and I deeply followed the whole tournament, Maradona was still the most popular player on earth and Argentina was defending their title, however they lost against Cameroon on the opening game, it was a big shock result! I must confess I was supporting West Germany, because they had really good charismatic players and manager, but looking back now, it was really brilliant the way that Maradona lead a weaker Argentina team to the final, knocking out Brazil and Italy, two big contenders! He was not enough to inspire his loving national team in the final against West Germany, but along the tournament he did some masterpieces like the assist to Caniggia against Brazil in the 1/8 finals.
After the 1990 World Cup, my memories about Maradona are that he started a decline period, with doping scandals and some poor seasons. Argentina was struggling to reach the finals without him, losing 0-5 to Colombia and everybody started to claim that he should come back to the National team. And he came back brilliantly, leading them to a playoff qualification beating Australia. When 1994 World Cup started, Argentina was not one of the favorites, but with Maradona scoring and assisting on the first two group phase games against Greece and Nigeria, the opinions were changing…but then Diego was suspended from the tournament with doping positive analysis after Nigeria! It´s a sad memory but I remember seeing live Argentina being eliminated against Romania with Maradona watching the game on the stands, shouting and suffering, feeling injustice happened with him.
After 1994, I remember him playing with Boca Juniors, his loved team, and retiring from the game he loved so well, on a dignifying way.
When I look back to Maradona career, I get mixed feelings. In fact he achieved the best thing that a player can dream, winning the World Cup, however I feel that he could and deserved to do it at least one more time!
He was very precocious, he could have played in 5 world cups easily, but he was dropped from the final list in 1978. He lacked experience in 1982, with some irreverence and behavior errors that transformed his first World Cup in a fiasco. As we all know 1986 was perfect to him, and he climbed to the top of the world, deservedly. In my opinion, 1990 was a fair and good result, being vice-champion against a very strong West Germany team. But in 1994, I feel that history should have been different. I can´t tell if the doping suspension was wrong, but FIFA taking him off from the tournament the way it was, was wrong. Probably he and Argentina were stripped of another world crown and it was the happy ending to the international career he deserved. Football won a 0-0 final in that 1994 World Cup, and a Brazilian team champion, playing so defensively. Argentina with Maradona scored 6 goals within 2 games. Brasil scored 5 goals within the 4 last tournament games. Romário and Bebeto played well, but Maradona and his young mates Redondo, Simeone, Batistuta, could have won it for sure.
There is another trophy missing into Maradona CV, a Libertadores Cup or a European Cup but he spent the best years of his career with Napoli and that explains this hole. He helped to build a team and a reputation to a southern Italian club that was a losing team. He won silverware there, and the flavor of that wins were tastier than an European Champions champagne, in my opinion. Two Serie A titles and a Uefa Cup are enough to earn my respect and tribute and he won some trophies with Boca Juniors and Barcelona too. He won the Youth World Cup which is an important mark in my opinion.
If I am asked who should be considered the best football player ever, I would say Maradona. He may not have won three World Cups like Pelé, but he was more gifted, had more passion and had more influence in a team than the Brazilian. Technically he was superior to Pelé in skills like dribbling and passing, however he wasn´t so good shooting and heading. But he makes the difference if we compare both, with the non technical aspects, related with his strong personality and passion for the game.
I am Maradona, who makes goals, who makes mistakes. I can take it all, I have shoulders big enough to fight with everybody.
I am black or white, I’ll never be grey in my life.
When you win, you don’t get carried away. But if you go step by step, with confidence, you can go far.
To see the ball, to run after it, makes me the happiest man in the world.
|1993–1994||Newell’s Old Boys||1||(0)|