There’s hardly a player who divides opinion quite like Diego Maradona. The Argentine superstar was the greatest player of his generation, but his on and off the pitch antics divided footballing fans worldwide.
As he celebrates his 60th birthday, Last Word on Sports has decided to look back at Maradona’s greatest moments as a footballer. He may have been controversial, but one thing is for sure, the Argentine was never boring.
Diego Maradona at 60: The Footballing Legends Greatest Ever Moments
3. The World Cup Final in 1990
Despite being reigning champions of the FIFA World Cup, Argentina were no longer the powerhouse it used to be. The team were good, but not great. Their group stage defeat to Cameroon, a side who bullied the Argentines all game, showed their decline.
But, Maradona was the difference during that World Cup, despite being hobbled by a knee injury. He dragged that Argentina team, kicking and screaming, all the way to the World Cup final. Unfortunately, their run came to an end as they fell to a great West German side comprised of Jurgen Klinsmann and Lothar Matthäus.
And one game really showed El Diego’s class.
After squeezing through the group stage in third place, Argentina faced a rampant Brazil in the Round of 16. The Selecao had won all of their games and only conceded one goal.
But, during a scruffy game, Maradona turned up the magic. The then 30-year-old picked up the ball in his own half and began one of his long and mazy runs. He beat three Brazilians before setting up Claudio Caniggia, who cooly finished.
The 1990 World Cup may not have ended in victory for Maradona, but he showed his class for the whole world to see.
2. Diego Maradona Guides Napoli to Glory
When Diego Maradona arrived in Naples, he joined a club that had yet to win Serie A. The midfielder was welcomed as a hero in Naples as fans finally saw an opportunity to challenge the biggest honours.
Maradona didn’t disappoint. After failing in his first two seasons at the club, Napoli finally clinched their first title in 1987 while also claiming the Coppa Italia.
El Diego was brilliant. He guided Napoli to an undefeated first 12 games of the season, which included wins at both Juventus and Roma – the top two clubs of the previous season. This start was key to their league win.
And the good times continued at Naples with Maradona in the following years. The club won another league title in 1990 and a UEFA Cup in 1989. This remains their greatest ever period.
And Maradona seems to have a certain fondness for the club.
“Naples will always be my second home,” he said in an interview. “They are my family. And I will always love them.”
Guiding Argentina to Glory in 1986
Maradona’s greatest moment as a player has to be the 1986 World Cup.
Argentina came into the tournament as one of the favourites, and they didn’t disappoint. The enigmatic brilliance of Maradona was particularly on show in the quarter-final against England. The Three Lions took the lead, but then Maradona showed why he is one of the best players of all-time.
He picked up the ball in his own half, dribbled past what seemed like the entire England team on what was a terrible pitch and calmly slotted the ball into the net.
A FIFA poll declared this moment of brilliance as the “goal of the century.”
But the other side of Maradona was on show in this game as well. For his second goal, the diminutive midfielder punched the ball into the net. It’s still unclear how the referee missed this obvious bit of cheating.
Maradona had a brilliant response when asked about this goal.
“The goal was scored a little bit by the hand of God, another bit by the head of Maradona,” he said.
The midfielder’s brilliance continued as Argentina lifted the World Cup. Most notably, he provided a sublime assist to teammate Jorge Burruchaga in the final for what proved to be the winning goal.
Love him or hate him, Maradona truly captured audiences. His brilliance made an everlasting impact on football.