The entire world was in shock when on Nov. 25, 2020, soccer icon Diego Maradona passed away. People that follow soccer and people that don’t follow sports at all were taken by surprise when his death was announced.
Born Oct. 30, 1960, Diego Maradona showed from an early age that he had a special talent for soccer. He signed with Argentinos Juniors when he was 14. In 1976, Maradona made his first team debut for them at the age of 15. In addition to that, in the same year, he also made his debut for the Argentinian national team. Despite being excluded from the 1978 World Cup squad who went on to win it, he led the under-20 national team to win the Junior World Cup.
In 1981, Maradona moved to Boca Juniors, one of the best teams in Argentina and won them the league title that very season. And in the following year, he moved to Europe and played for two of Europe’s most decorated teams in FC Barcelona and Napoli, a top team in Italy. But he was most famous during his time with Napoli, as he took them to the very top of the Italian league, and placed them among the best teams in the league. Throughout his time in Europe, he won lots of silverware both with Barcelona and Napoli.
However, what makes Diego Maradona so famous around the world came during a World Cup semifinal game against England in 1986 when he scored one of the most infamous goals in the history of the game. He scored a goal that looked to have been made by his head, but he had actually scored it with his hand. Because there was no advanced technology at that time to check if the goal was legitimate or not, the referee mistakenly believed that the ball struck his head and gave the goal to Argentina. That goal became known as “The Hand of God.” And in that same tournament, he helped Argentina go on to win the World Cup.
Maradona, over his decorated career, became a hero for both Argentinian citizens and Southern Italy’s lower class citizens. Retiring in 1997, he played an astonishing 490 games over his 21-year career. He totalled 259 goals for club, and 34 goals in 91 games for Argentina.
When Diego Maradona passed away this past Thanksgiving break, teams around the world before playing their games, gave a moment of silence for Diego Maradona. The entire country of Argentina has paid tribute to him by painting murals of him throughout the city of Buenos Aires. The mayor of Naples even renamed Napoli’s stadium, Stadio San Paolo to Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. Lionel Messi, fellow countryman of Maradona, paid tribute to him by putting on Maradona’s old jerseys after he scored a goal this past weekend for Barcelona.
Loyola varsity soccer team captain Nate Smith-Hastie said, “He was a legend of the game. One of the greatest to ever play the sport. An idol for so many young players growing not only in Argentina but all around the world. His legacy will last forever.”