Born on the 30th October 1960, the fifth child of eight to Diego Maradona and Dalma Salvadora Franco in Lanus, on the edge of Buenos Aires, Argentina. From these humble beginnings Maradona would rise to be one of the most well known footballers and arguably the best of his generation, certainly in English eyes, the most infamous.
He started his playing career with Los Cebollitas (the little Onions), the youth team of Argentinos Juniors, at the tender age of just ten. Still only fifteen, he was 10 days short of his sixteenth birthday, he made his professional debut coming on as substitute for Argentinos Juniors during the second half. His first goal soon followed, on November 14th 1976, against San Lorenzo de Mar del Plata, Maradona had arrived.
His skills were all too evident and he was called up for the Argentinean national squad early 1977. He made his international debut on 27th February against Hungary. With the World Cup fast approaching there was a large clamour for the 17-year-old Maradona to be included within the squad, for the tournament that was to be held on home territory. The press and the nation were to be disappointed as the Argentine coach, Cesar Menotti, would not include him in his squad of 22, stating the he thought he was too young to handle the pressure, the world would have to wait.
Maradonas rise in South American football continued, he scored his first international goal on 2nd June 1979 in Glasgow against Scotland. He also led Argentina to the youth World Cup in Japan, beating USSR 3-1 in the final. It was then after four years with Argentinos Juniors he moved to Boca Juniors one of Argentinas bigger clubs, for a transfer fee of £1,000,000.
His debut for Boca Juniors on February 22nd 1981 saw him score twice in a 4-1 victory over Talleres de Cordoba. His talent ensured that Boca Juniors went on the win the Argentine Championship that season and already European eyes were looking his way.
As the star of South American football, in 1980 he was FIFA Best Player of the year in South America, Barcelona natural saw him as the player that would enhance their National and International ambitions and on 4th June 1982 he signed for them at a price of £5,000,000. His time there though was not to go well. During his first season he feel ill with hepatitis and on the 23rd September 1983 he suffered the worst injury of his career when he broke his left ankle. This was due to a particularly bad tackle from the Athletic Bilbao defender, Andoni Goicoeschea, The Butcher of Bilbao. On his return to full fitness the fans and press started to turn against him, he had started to pickup an image of a troublemaker and although winning the Copa del Rey, the Spanish cup, in 1983, he was allowed to leave the club.
The joining of Napoli was inspirational, both for Napoli and Maradona; a match made in heaven and would prove to be the golden years for both parties. Napoli, a team who had never won the championship and often regarded as relegation candidates, was a surprise choice for the prolific talent of Maradona but on 30th June 1984 he signed for them, for a then world record of £6,900,000. In his first season they finished eighth and improved on that in the following season. This culminated on 10th May 1987 in Napoli winning their first Scudetto, Italian championship. This raised Maradonas status in Naples from Hero to God, and on 11th December signed a $16m contract to tie him to Napoli until 30th June 1993. All initially was going well, Napoli won their first ever European trophy, the UEFA cup in 1989 and the championship again in 1990 but it was all about to go wrong. On the 17th March 1991 Maradona failed a random drugs test and was banned for 15 months. After serving the ban Maradona refused to play for Napoli, instead after a long contract wrangle, he returned to Spain.
Spain - a short return
On the 4th October 1992 Maradona made his debut for Sevilla FC, losing 2-1, a result that was beginning to sum up his career. In all he only managed 26 games for Sevilla before contract negotiation and revelation of his private life forced him to return to Argentina.
Argentina - Back home
On his return to Argentina he signed for Newells Old Boys and made his debut on the 10th October 1993 in a game against Independiente, they lost 3-1. In all he only plays five games for them, his last being on 2nd December 1993.
Maradona then flirted with coaching, first with Deportivo Mandiyu of Corrientes; he signed for them in October 1994 but resigned two months later. His second attempt was with Racing in May 1995 but again after only four months he resigned.
In October 1995 he decided to make a comeback as a player and re signed for Boca Juniors, playing his first match for them on the 7th October beating Colon 1-0. His playing career continued until 24th August 1997, when playing against his old club Argentinos Juniors he once again failed a drugs test, this time the writing was on the wall, on 25th October 1997 he played his last match winning 2-1 to River Plate. He announced his retirement from the game on his 37th birthday, October 30th 1997.
The World Cups
After missing out on the 1978 World cup in Argentina as 17-year old, Maradona would grace the final stages four times, 1982 in Spain, 1986 in Mexico, 1990 in Italy and 1994 in the USA.
In 1982 Argentina arrived in Spain as the current holders, and the 21-year old Maradona expected great things, his record there though was mixed. He played a total of 5 games, scoring twice but after being sent off against Brazil, Argentina were knocked out in the second phase of the competition.
Mexico 1986, this was the best time of Maradonas career playing some of his best football for Napoli, he was not about to disappoint on the greatest world stage of all. His record at these games was played seven and scoring 5 goals, but he will be most remembered for the one he scored in the Quarterfinals against England. The English will always remember the goal that he clearly scored with the use of his hand; he would later refer to it as the Hand of God. The rest of the World remember his breath taking second goal in which, from his own half way line, he manages to leave standing five England players to score a most exquisite goal. He then went on captain the Argentine team to victory in the final. Maradona World Champion.
Italy 1990, Maradona having won his second championship with Napoli, was expecting great thing from this tournament, especially playing on his home territory and as holders, were amongst the favourites to retain the Cup. His record here was played 7 but without scoring, he again captained the Argentines to the final but ended up on the losing side.
USA 1994. At this point in his life Maradonas career was very much a rollercoaster. He had made his international comeback in October 1993 to play Australia in the playoffs, in which he scored in a 1-1 draw. He then captained the team in the second leg, which they won 1-0 thus qualifying for the Finals. The tournament was a disaster for Maradona after only playing two games for them, he is tested positive for a banned substance, Ephedrine, and was expelled, an ignominious end for such a great World Cup star. At the time he equalled the record number of World cup appearances at 21, this was later beaten by Lothar Mattaus, and would had surely gone on to play more times but for his drug habit.
Argentinos Juniors 166 games 116 goals
Boca Juniors 70 games 35 goals
Barcelona 58 games 38 goals
Napoli 259 games 115 goals
Sevilla 26 games 5 goals
Newells Old Boys 5 games 0 goals
Boca Juniors 24 games 5 goals
Total 608 games 314 goals
1981 Argentine Championship Boca Juniors
1982 Cup Winners Cup Barcelona
1983 Spanish Cup Barcelona
1987 Italian Championship Napoli
1987 Italian Cup Napoli
1989 UEFA Cup Napoli
1990 Italian Championship Napoli
Argentina 90 Caps 33 goals
1979 World Youth Championship winner
1986 World Cup winner
1990 World Cup Runner up