Argentine soccer great Diego Maradona has died at age 60 – Orange County Register

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By DEBORA REY

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Diego Maradona, the Argentine soccer nice who was among the many greatest gamers ever and who led his nation to the 1986 World Cup title earlier than later scuffling with cocaine use and weight problems, has died. He was 60.

The workplace of Argentina’s president will decree three days of nationwide mourning due to Maradona’s demise on Wednesday, and the Argentine soccer affiliation expressed its sorrow on Twitter.

Maradona died two weeks after being launched from a Buenos Aires hospital following mind surgical procedure.

Famed for the “Hand of God” aim through which he punched the ball into England’s web in the course of the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals, Maradona captivated followers over a two-decade profession with a bewitching type of play that was all his personal.

Though his fame was tarnished by his addictions and an ill-fated spell in control of the nationwide staff, he remained idolized in soccer-mad Argentina because the “Pibe de Oro” or “Golden Boy.”

The No. 10 he wore on his jersey turned synonymous with him, because it additionally had with Pele, the Brazilian nice with whom Maradona was usually paired as one of the best of all time.

Daring, quick and completely unpredictable, Maradona was a grasp of assault, juggling the ball simply from one foot to the opposite as he raced upfield. Dodging and weaving along with his low middle of gravity, he shrugged off numerous rivals and infrequently scored with a devastating left foot, his strongest weapon.

“Every part he was considering in his head, he made it occur along with his ft,” mentioned Salvatore Bagni, who performed with Maradona at Italian membership Napoli.

A ballooning waistline slowed Maradona’s explosive pace later in his profession and by 1991 he was snared in his first doping scandal when he admitted to a cocaine behavior that haunted him till he retired in 1997, at 37.

Hospitalized close to demise in 2000 and once more in ’04 for coronary heart issues blamed on cocaine, he later mentioned he overcame the drug drawback. Cocaine, he as soon as mentioned famously, had confirmed to be his “hardest rival.”

However extra well being issues adopted, regardless of a 2005 gastric bypass that enormously trimmed his weight. Maradona was hospitalized in early 2007 for acute hepatitis that his physician blamed on extreme ingesting and consuming.

He made an unlikely return to the nationwide staff in 2008 when he was appointed Argentina coach, however after a quarterfinal exit on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, he was ousted — in the end choosing up one other teaching job with the United Arab Emirates membership Al Wasl.

Maradona was the fifth of eight kids who grew up in a poor, gritty barrio on the Buenos Aires outskirts the place he performed a sort of dirt-patch soccer that launched many Argentines to worldwide stardom.

None of them approached Maradona’s fame. In 2001, FIFA named Maradona one of many two biggest within the sport’s historical past, alongside Pele.

“Maradona evokes us,” mentioned then-Argentina striker Carlos Tevez, explaining his nation’s everyman fascination with Maradona on the 2006 World Cup in Germany. “He’s our idol, and an idol for the folks.”

Maradona reaped titles at residence and overseas, taking part in within the early Nineteen Eighties for Argentinos Juniors and Boca Juniors earlier than transferring on to Spanish and Italian golf equipment. His crowning achievement got here on the 1986 World Cup, captaining Argentina in its 3-2 win over West Germany within the closing and decisive in a 2-1 victory towards England in a feisty quarterfinal match.

Over the protests of England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, the referee let stand a aim by Maradona through which, as he admitted years later, he deliberately hit the ball along with his hand in “a little bit of mischief.”

However Maradona’s influence wouldn’t be confined to dishonest. 4 minutes later, he spectacularly weaved previous 4 opponents from midfield to beat Shilton for what FIFA later declared the best aim in World Cup historical past.

Many Argentines noticed the match as revenge for his or her nation’s loss to Britain within the 1982 struggle over the Falkland Islands, which Argentines nonetheless declare as “Las Malvinas.”

“It was our method of recovering ‘Las Malvinas,’” Maradona wrote in his 2000 autobiography “I’m Diego.”

“It was greater than attempting to win a recreation. We mentioned the sport had nothing to do with the struggle. However we knew that Argentines had died there, that they’d killed them like birds. And this was our revenge. It was one thing greater than us: We had been defending our flag.”

It additionally was vindication for Maradona, who in what he later known as “the best tragedy” of his profession was reduce from the squad of the 1978 World Cup — which Argentina received at residence — as a result of he was solely 17.

Maradona mentioned he was given a soccer ball quickly after he may run.

“I used to be 3 years outdated and I slept hugging that ball all evening,” he mentioned.

At 10, Maradona gained fame by acting at halftime {of professional} matches, wowing crowds by preserving the ball airborne for minutes along with his ft, chest and head. He additionally made his taking part in debut with the Argentinos Juniors youth staff, main a squad of largely 14-year-olds by 136 unbeaten matches.

“To see him play was pure bliss, true stardom,” teammate Carlos Beltran mentioned.

Maradona performed from 1976-81 for first division membership Argentinos Juniors, then went to Boca Juniors for a yr earlier than heading to Barcelona for a world-record $8 million.

In 1984, Barcelona offered him to Napoli, in Italy. He remade its fortunes nearly single-handedly, taking it to the 1987 Italian league championship for its first title in 60 years.

A yr after shedding the 1990 World Cup closing to West Germany, Maradona moved to Spanish membership Sevilla, however his profession was on the decline. He performed 5 matches at Argentine membership Newell’s Outdated Boys in 1994 earlier than returning to Boca from 1995-97 — his closing membership and closest to his coronary heart.

Drug issues overshadowed his closing taking part in years.

Maradona failed a doping take a look at in 1991 and was banned for 15 months, acknowledging his longtime cocaine dependancy. He failed one other doping take a look at for stimulants and was thrown out of the 1994 World Cup in america.

In retirement, Maradona frequented Boca matches as a raucous one-man cheering part and took half in worldwide charity, sporting and exhibition occasions. However the already stocky ahead shortly gained weight and was clearly in need of breath as he huffed by pleasant matches.

In 2000, in what docs mentioned was a brush with demise, he was hospitalized within the Uruguayan resort of Punta del Este with a coronary heart that docs mentioned was pumping at lower than half its capability. Blood and urine samples turned up traces of cocaine.

After one other emergency hospitalization in 2004, Maradona was endorsed for drug abuse and in September of that yr traveled to Cuba for therapy at Havana’s Heart for Psychological Well being. There he was visited by his buddy, Cuban President Fidel Castro.

In Cuba, Maradona took to taking part in golf and smoking cigars. He regularly praised Castro and Argentine-born revolutionary “Che” Guevara, who fought with Castro within the Cuban revolution — even sporting a tattoo of Guevara on his proper arm.

Maradona mentioned he obtained clear from medication there and began a brand new chapter.

In 2005, he underwent gastric bypass in Colombia, shedding practically 50 kilograms (greater than 100 kilos) earlier than showing as host of a wildly widespread Argentine tv speak present. On “10’s Evening,” Maradona headed round a ball with Pele, interviewed boxer Mike Tyson and Hollywood celebrities, and taped a prolonged dialog with Castro in Cuba.

In retirement, Maradona additionally turned extra outspoken. He sniped regularly at former coaches, gamers — together with Pele — and the pope. He joined a left-wing protest practice exterior the Summit of the Americas in 2005, standing alongside Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to denounce the presence of then-President George W. Bush.

His outsider standing made it all of the extra stunning when he was chosen as Argentina coach following Alfio Basile’s resignation.

He received his first three matches however his ways, choice and a spotlight to element had been all questioned after a 6-1 loss to Bolivia in World Cup qualifying equaled Argentina’s worst-ever margin of defeat.

Victor Hugo Morales, Argentina’s hottest soccer broadcaster, mentioned Maradona will in the end be remembered for an exhilarating type of play that has by no means been duplicated.

“He has been one of many nice artists of my time. Like nice masters of music and portray, he has defied our mind and enriched the human spirit,” Morales mentioned. “No one has thrilled me extra and left me in such awe as Diego.”

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