Diego Armando Maradona

Diego Maradona - career timeline

Jamie Spencer
Image by Matt Burt
Image by Matt Burt
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Diego Maradona will forever be remembered as one of the greatest footballers of all time, inspiring multiple generations and laying down a legacy that will last and last.

He sadly died at the age of just 60 in 2020, but had made the world and the game of football a more colourful and vibrant place during his lifetime.

Here's a look through the defining moments of his historic career...


30 October 1960

Maradona was born, giving life to one of the greatest players of all time.


20 October 1976

10 days before his 16th birthday, Maradona made his professional debut for Argentinos Juniors against Talleres, becoming at that time the Primera Division’s youngest ever player.


Maradona started his senior career incredibly young
Maradona started his senior career incredibly young / AFP/GettyImages

27 February 1977

Maradona made his senior international debut for Argentina aged 16 against Hungary, although he missed out on selection for the 1978 World Cup on home soil.


2 June 1979

An 18-year-old Maradona scored the first of 34 international goals as Argentina beat Scotland in a friendly at Hampden Park in Glasgow.


20 February 1981

Maradona swapped Argentinos Juniors for Boca Juniors, the club he supported growing up, and scored twice on his debut against Talleres two days after joining.


Maradona had dreamed of playing for Boca Juniors from childhood
Maradona had dreamed of playing for Boca Juniors from childhood / DIARIO POPULAR/GettyImages

4 June 1982

Leaving South America behind, Maradona signed his contract with Barcelona to become the world’s most expensive player for a transfer fee the equivalent of $7.6m.


13 June 1982

After watching as a fan in 1978, Maradona played in his first World Cup match - his first of four tournaments. The game against Belgium ended in a 1-0 defeat for Argentina.


29 June 1982

Maradona was kicked out of the 1982 World Cup by the aggressive man marking of Italy defender Claudio Gentile in a bad-tempered match in Barcelona.


Maradona joined Barcelona as the most expensive player in the world
Maradona joined Barcelona as the most expensive player in the world / JOEL ROBINE/GettyImages

26 June 1983

Maradona was applauded by Real Madrid fans at the Bernabeu following his unplayable performance in a Barcelona win in the 1983 Copa de La Liga final first leg.


24 September 1983

Maradona suffered a broken ankle after a tackle from Athletic Bilbao’s Andoni Goikoetxea, nicknamed the ‘Butcher of Bilbao’.


5 May 1984

In another bad-tempered affair against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final, Maradona was subject to racist abuse from the crowd and violent challenges. He retaliated, sparking a brawl.


5 July 1984

Maradona became the most expensive player in the world for the second time when he was unveiled at Napoli, a period which would define his club career.


Napoli broke the world transfer record to sign Maradona in 1984
Napoli broke the world transfer record to sign Maradona in 1984 / Alessandro Sabattini/GettyImages

22 June 1986

The world saw the best and worst of Maradona on the biggest stage of all as he scored his ‘Hand of God’ goal against England and followed it up with one of the greatest goals of all time.


29 June 1986

Maradona lifted the World Cup trophy as Argentina captain after La Albiceleste beat West Germany 3-2 in a thrilling final in Mexico City.


Maradona lifted the World Cup trophy as Argentina captain
Maradona lifted the World Cup trophy as Argentina captain / El Grafico/GettyImages

10 May 1987

Led by Maradona, Napoli won a first ever Serie A title. Only one other club – Cagliari in 1970 - outside of Rome or Italy’s wealthy north had ever previously won a Scudetto.


13 June 1987

Napoli completed a 1986/87 domestic double when they beat Atalanta over two legs in the Coppa Italia final, with Maradona as captain.


16 September 1987

Maradona graced the European Cup for the first time as Napoli represented Italy in the competition, only to be knocked out in the first round by Real Madrid.


17 May 1989

Maradona lifted the UEFA Cup, Napoli’s first and only European trophy, after beating Stuttgart over two legs in the final – he scored his team’s first goal of the tie.


Maradona delivered Napoli's first ever Serie A titles & European trophy
Maradona delivered Napoli's first ever Serie A titles & European trophy / Alessandro Sabattini/GettyImages

29 April 1990

Maradona’s Napoli finished ahead of reigning European champions AC Milan to win their second Serie A title. He scored 16 league goals during the campaign.


3 July 1990

Maradona played for Argentina against Italy in the World Cup semi-final in Napoli, famously gaining the support of the local crowd over their own country.


29 March 1991

Maradona tested positive for cocaine and was issued a 15-month ban from football. He never played for Napoli again and left the club in disgrace the following year.


22 September 1992

With his drug ban over, Maradona moved back to Spain and on to Sevilla in the autumn of 1992, although he stayed for only one season.


13 September 1993

Maradona returned to club football in South America for the first time in 11 years when he signed for Newell’s Old Boys on a deal paying him a reported $4m up front and $25,000 per month.


21 June 1994

The date of Maradona’s last World Cup appearance and goal. His wide-eyed celebration against Greece has become infamous and he was sent home soon after over a failed drug test.

Maradona played his last game for Argentina in 1994
Maradona played his last game for Argentina in 1994 / DANIEL GARCIA/GettyImages

25 October 1997

Maradona played his final game in professional football five days before turning 37, helping Boca Juniors beat River Plate in Argentina’s iconic Superclasico.


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