Diego Maradona, regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, has died aged 60.
The Argentinian, who had brain surgery this month, died of a heart attack, his lawyer said. Maradona inspired his country to World Cup glory in 1986 when as captain he displayed a level of skill, creativity, strength and desire arguably not seen before or since. In the 2-1 quarter-final victory over England he also scored the greatest goal of all time, a match in which the forward also showed his darker, mischievous side with the infamous “Hand of God”.
Maradona also achieved success at club level, most notably with Napoli, whom he led to their first Serie A title in 1987. A second followed in 1990, alongside an Italian Cup in 1987 and a Uefa Cup in 1991, and such was the player’s impact at a club which previously had lived in the shadow of Italy’s northern powerhouses, particularly Juventus, Milan and Internazionale, that Napoli announced in 2000 that they were retiring his No 10 shirt.
It was during his seven years in Naples, however, that Maradona’s addiction to cocaine took grip. He was hit with a 15-month suspension for drug violations in 1991 – the year he left Napoli – and, three years later, was thrown out of the World Cup in the US after testing positive for ephedrine.
From there Maradona’s personal life spiralled out control and in 2000 and 2004 he was hospitalized for heart problems, the second time requiring the use of a respirator to breathe properly. The following year he underwent gastric-bypass surgery to help stem his obesity.
None of that, however, could overshadow his talents on the pitch which, at their peak, were almost supernatural.