Diego Maradona- Falling From Grace

09Oct08

Diego Armando Maradona was without doubt one of the best footballers the world has ever seen. A controversial character that oozed undisputable talent. On the pitch he displayed a will to win and had the ability to change the game single handedly- a true footballing genius. Yet, off the field he was often troubled and caught up in wrong-doing.

Maradona started his international career at the tender age of 16. He played 91 times for his country and scored 34 goals. He competed in four World Cups, the first in 1982. He played every game and scored twice but was sent off against Brazil as they were defeated in the second round.

He returned to captain the national team in the 1986 World Cup. He was the most dynamic player of the tournament and led Argentina to victory, playing every game and scoring five goals whilst making five assists. The two goals he scored against England depicted the best and worst of the midfield magician. The first goal was scored with his hand, the ‘Hand of God’, and the second goal has been voted Goal of the Century. He managed to dominate the tournament in a way no player has ever done before.

Maradona played with an injury in the 1990 World Cup. He captained the team with less influence than in the previous years. He missed a penalty in the quarter final but Argentina advanced to the semi-final against Italy. This game was also decided on penalties with Maradona scoring in the shoot out. Although the team had fought their way to the final, they were edged out by West Germany.

In the World Cup in the United States in 1994 was set to be his international swan-song. Argentina’s hero played in the first two games of the tournament, scoring an excellent goal against Greece. In celebration Maradona exhibited a maniacal full-face goal celebration into a telvision camera. Unfortunately for Diego, his international career ended in disgrace when he failed a drugs test. Maradona tested positive for ephedrene, a banned stimulant, and without their talisman Argentina were knocked out in the second round.

The modern day Maradona is a sad parody of the snake-hipped, mercury-heeled star who astonished the globe back in the 1986 Mexico World Cup. While it is hard to sympathise with somebody whose problems have been largely self-inflicted, Diego Maradona has rarely had help when he needed it. Such was his stature, that the unscrupulous were all too ready to use him for their ends, and he became a political pawn.

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