Maradona - the best player ever?

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The debate over who is the best footballer of all time will always include a certain Diego Armando Maradona.
The Argentine football icon changed the face of football with his achievements at both club and international level.
Maradona was born into a poor family in Lanús, Buenos Aires Province, but raised in Villa Fiorito, a shantytown on the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The left-footed genius was spotted by a talent scout while he was playing in his neighbourhood club Estrella Roja and became a staple of Los Cebollitas (The Little Onions), the junior team of Buenos Aires's Argentinos Juniors.

As a 12-year-old ball boy, Maradona amused spectators by showing his wizardry with the ball during the halftime intermissions of first division games.
“He was from another planet. He was different," Francisco Cornejo, who was Maradona’s youth coach, said on Planet Football.
Maradona made his professional debut for Argentinos Juniors, 10 days before his 16th birthday against Talleres de Cordoba and became the youngest player in the history of the Argentine Primera Division.
Nicknamed El Pibe de Oro (The Golden Boy), Maradona spent five years at Argentinos Juniors, from 1976 to 1981, scoring 115 goals in 167 appearances before his US $4 million transfer to Boca Juniors.

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El Pibe de Oro had a successful season (1981), winning the league title which would be the only title won by Maradona in the Argentine domestic league.
Maradona then transferred to Spanish giants FC Barcelona for a then world-record fee of £5 million ($7.6 million) and helped Barca clinch La Liga, Copa Del Rey and Supercopa de España trophies between 1982 and 1984.
He then moved to Italian side SCC Napoli in 1984 where he played an instrumental role in the team winning two Serie A, Coppa Italia, UEFA Cup and Supercoppa Italiana trophies.
Maradona then had a spell (1992/93) with Spanish side Sevilla, before he returned to Argentina where he played for Newell's Old Boys (1993/94) and Boca Juniors (1994 and 1997), where  he retired from professional football in 1997.
His exploits at international level made him a global superstar. He started by inspiring Argentina to the 1979 FIFA Under-20 World Cup triumph where he also scooped the Golden Ball as the best player in the competition.
Maradona then played in four FIFA World Cups, including the 1986 World Cup in Mexico where he captained Argentina and led them to victory over West Germany in the final. He also won the Golden Ball.
The dribbling wizard, who was renowned for his close ball control and creativity, had scored both goals in a 2-1 victory over England in the quarter-final clash that entered football history for two different reasons.
The first of two goals from Maradona was an unpenalized handling foul known as the "Hand of God", while the second goal followed a 60m (66 yds) dribble past five England players before firing home (voted "Goal of the Century" by voters in 2002).
The two-time South American Footballer of the Year was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the 20th Century award which he shared with Brazilian legend Pele.

“When Diego scored that second goal against us, I felt like applauding. I’d never felt like that before, but it’s true… and not just because it was such an important game. It was impossible to score such a beautiful goal.
“He’s the greatest player of all time, by a long way. A genuine phenomenon," England legend Gary Lineker said on Planet Football.

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Published: 06/05/2020