Most of the well-known football players of the world have the same origin. They are born in poor families and have to go through difficult economic situations. They see football as a professional and profitable activity which can save them and their families from poverty. Unfortunately, the price the pay for fame, glory and a high standard of living is extremely high. They are victims of the marketing industry of football. Diego Maradona is not an exception to the rule. He had to struggle against many difficulties which range from his social life to his drug addiction which took him almost to death. But surprisingly he overcame all those problems and looks now better than ever.
He was originally born in the slums of Villa Fiorito near Buenos Aires as the fifth of eight children. Maradona entered professional football at the astonishing age of 15 in his first football team: Argentinos Juniors. By the time he turned 16, Diego was even called in the senior national team of Argentina. Regardless of his talent, Diego was considered too young by coach Cesar Menotti, who rejected him from his selection for the 1978 World Cup. The following year Diego played the youth world football cup in Japan where Argentina won the world championship. At that time Maradona had become an idol for the majority of football fans in Argentina and the world commented about his unique ability to play football.
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His early success was the result of his great talent. He was such a good player that Boca Juniors, the most popular football team in Argentina, decided to hire his services paying more than one million dollars to Argentinos Juniors. It was then that he gained more popularity than ever in Argentina and in the world. At the same time, he started earning a lot of money which enabled him to buy a house for his parents. His career in Boca Juniors was very short. He played in Boca Juniors so successfully that he was transferred to Barcelona Football Club in Spain.
His period as a football player in Barcelona was not as good as it was expected. Maradona was not able to adapt himself to living abroad. He was homesick and he started suffering attacks from the Mass and Media. To make things worse he broke his ankle in a football match and was out from the fields for more than six months. At this time Maradona became a millionaire. Unfortunately, he did not have a well-balanced personality to cope with fame and money. Consequently, he got lost and started to make different mistakes which led him to a disordered way of living.
As he failed to lead Barcelona to the Spanish Championship, he was transferred to Napoli, a club from the city of Naples in the south of Italy in 1984. There, he was elevated to the status of a God. Everything was permitted to him. In that club he played outstandingly leading Napoli to its first Italian title. Because of this he was called by coach Carlos Salvador Bilardo to the Argentinian national football team again for the world championship in Mexico. There, the Argentinian squad won its second world title and he was chosen as the best football player of the world. This situation marked a turning point in his ascendant career as a football player.
At Italy 1990 world championship, all eyes were on Argentina and its brightest star Diego Maradona. Diego came close to replicating his previous success. With Maradona’s ability, Argentina defeated Brazil, Yugoslavia and Italy on its way to the final. The most memorable match was the semi-final between Argentina and Italy played at Diego’s club home Naples. To the torment of Maradona, the fans at his own club stadium booed him during the match. Nevertheless, he eliminated Italy by scoring in the penalty shootout definition. The final of the 1990 World Cup, left Diego helpless as Argentina was defeated 0-1 by West Germany with a goal from a questionable penalty. Since the loss against West Germany, Maradona’s career collapsed. In March 1991, he tested positive for doping and was banned from football for 15 months. Maradona refused to return back to Napoli after the incident and was transferred to Sevilla for a year. He eventually came back to Argentina with Newell’s Old Boys and after a year he was transferred to Boca Juniors, his second club.
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The decline in his career was evident. Moreover, his lack of discipline in his private life resulted in a high addiction to cocaine and other types of drugs. He was arrested more than once because of drug consumption. At this time, it was obvious that he could not control his own life affecting his family. He became fatter and fatter and had a heart attack. He decided to go to Cuba to be treated from drug addiction but his stay in Cuba was a failure.
Nowadays and after being operated to reduce his stomach, the football icon Diego Maradona, after years of fighting against cocaine addiction, made his debut as a TV talk-show host on a weekly program called “the night of Diego”. He looks recovered from his drug addiction and he is in an excellent physical condition.
Undoubtedly, Diego Maradona is not a mirror to look at. He is not an example to follow. However, it is important to recognize his attitude and strong will to succeed in his fight against cocaine consumption which nowadays seems to be only a bad and painful memory in his life