Diego Armando Maradona

Diego Maradona: A career in images

Jack Gallagher
Diego Maradona at Napoli
Diego Maradona at Napoli / Etsuo Hara/Getty Images
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The most gifted footballer of all time.

The most important footballer of all time.

The greatest footballer of all time.

That's what Diego Armando Maradona was, and will always be. And while we mourn the loss of a true footballing hero, we should also celebrate his life, career, and how he single-handedly uplifted a city (Naples) and a country (Argentina) with his mercurial talents.

So in order to do so, here is the incomparable Maradona's footballing career, in pictures:


Argentino Juniors

"They say people witness at least one miracle in their lives, but most do not even realise. I certainly did. My miracle occurred on that rainy Saturday in 1969, when an eight-year-old kid, an age I could not believe, did things with the ball that I'd never seen in my life."

That's what Francis Cornejo - the youth coach who discovered Maradona - said of an eight-year-old Diego the first time he saw him in action.

Seven or so years later he would make his debut for Argentino Juniors and become the youngest player in Argentinian top flight history.


First Stint at Boca Juniors

A young Maradona in 1981
A young Maradona in 1981 / AFP/Getty Images

After showcasing his burgeoning talents during a remarkably goal-laden five years at Argentino Juniors, the country's biggest club - Boca Juniors - came calling.

28 goals, 40 games and a league title later, he was a Boca icon.


Argentina Debut vs. Scotland

"Scotland Reel to Maradona Magic!"

Yep, that's right, Diego Maradona's Argentina debut came against Scotland. At just 18 years old, he scored in Argentina's 3-1 win at a packed Hamden Park.


Maiden World Cup

Maradona in the 1982 World Cup
Maradona in the 1982 World Cup / Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Heading into his first World Cup in 1982, it's fair to say that a lot was expect of Maradona.

A LOT.

But, unlike the 1986 World Cup, things didn't really go to plan. El Diego was battered and bruised by Italy's Claudio Gentile, he saw red in a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Brazil, and Argentina went home from Spain with their tail firmly between their legs...


Barcelona

MARADONA-BARCELONE
MARADONA-BARCELONE / JOEL ROBINE/Getty Images

...Well, most of the team would. Maradona would opt to stay in Spain, signing for Barcelona in a then-world record deal.


Signing for SSC Napoli

For a myriad of reasons - which we don't really need to get into - Maradona at Barcelona just didn't, well, fit.

After two injury ravaged seasons at Barcelona, El Diego would up and leave for SSC Napoli; a then-mid-table Serie A club.

It was surprising move, but it would turn out to be the best of his career.


First Serie A Title

Maradona vs Como
Maradona vs Como / Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Maradona would take the Napoli to new heights, giving the southern city their first ever Scudetto during the 1986/87 season.


Hand of God

Diego Maradona out-jumps Peter Shilton
Diego Maradona out-jumps Peter Shilton / El Grafico/Getty Images

“I knew it was my hand. It wasn’t my plan but the action happened so fast that the linesman didn’t see me putting my hand in. The referee looked at me and he said: ‘Goal.’

“It was a nice feeling like some sort of symbolic revenge against the English.”


Goal of the Century

Round Shilton to score the greatest goal ever
Round Shilton to score the greatest goal ever / STAFF/Getty Images

Five minutes after punching the ball into the net, as some sort of penance, Maradona repaid the footballing world with the most electric, spellbinding, downright perfect goal in the history of the sport.


3,000 Belgians vs. 1 Maradona

Despite being man-marked by the whole Belgian national team in the semi of the World Cup, Maradona still managed to bag a brace.


Lifting the World Cup

Maradona lifting the World Cup
Maradona lifting the World Cup / El Grafico/Getty Images

On 29th June 1986, Maradona received his just rewards for the greatest single tournament performance in footballing history - lifting the World Cup trophy after beating West Germany 3-2 in the final at Azteca Stadium.


UEFA Cup Triumph

Maradona with the UEFA Cup
Maradona with the UEFA Cup / Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

A Scudetto was unthinkable at Napoli - a European trophy was even more unthinkable.

And yet, Maradona delivered one in 1989.


Second Scudetto

Maradona in the iconic red away kit
Maradona in the iconic red away kit / Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Christ, what a kit.

Maradona ensured that Napoli remained a force the season after winning the UEFA Cup by winning another Scudetto.

To put this into context: Napoli haven't won a single league title since.


1990 World Cup

Maradona against Cameroon
Maradona against Cameroon / Getty Images/Getty Images

Yes small, but also far away.


Maradona vs. Italy

Maradona vs Italy
Maradona vs Italy / Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Ahead of the 1990 World Cup semi final between home nation Italy and tournament favourites Argentina in Naples, Maradona called on Neapolitans to support his team instead of the Azzurri.

They didn't (for the most part), but Argentina still won and made their second consecutive World Cup final.


World Cup Final Defeat

Maradona and Matthaus
Maradona and Matthaus / Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

"He is the best rival I've ever had. I guess that's enough to define him."

That's what Diego Maradona said about Lothar Matthaus - the man who expertly man-marked him the the 1990 World Cup final.


Return to La Liga With Sevilla

Diego Maradona of Seville
Diego Maradona of Seville / Chris Cole/Getty Images

Maradona's return to La Liga wasn't particularly successful, but he did grow perhaps the greatest mullet of all time, so who cares?


Brief Stint at Newell's Old Boys

How brief you ask? Five games.


1994 World Cup

Maradona 1994 World Cup
Maradona 1994 World Cup / DANIEL GARCIA/Getty Images

Maradona arrived at the 1994 World Cup in the best shape he'd been in since the previous World Cup four years prior. And he started the tournament off like a house on fire, scoring a wonderful goal against Greece...


Sent Home From World Cup

Maradona after failing drug test
Maradona after failing drug test / MIKE NELSON/Getty Images

...However things quickly unravelled when Maradona tested positive for a banned substance and was sent home after two games.


Last Hurrah at Boca Juniors

Maradona at Boca
Maradona at Boca / DANIEL LUNA/Getty Images

Thankfully our last image of Maradona, the footballer, wasn't to be his World Cup debacle. Rather, it was his three joyous seasons at Boca Juniors, where - despite not playing too often - El Diego was hailed as, well, what he was:

A footballing icon.


"You Don't Know What You Missed"


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