Talking about soccer and not mentioning one of the best ever to grace the pitch would be a complete injustice to the sport. The famous soccer player who will be in the limelight for this article needs no introduction. His numerous achievements on and off the pitch speak volumes about his greatness. Diego Armando Maradona, a name that every soccer fan must have heard at some point in their life while supporting and cheering for the sport.
Birth and early years
Diego was born on 30th October 1960, in Lanus, the capital city of Buenos Aires province, Argentina. His childhood was tough as he was born to a low-income family who shifted from another province just before his birth.
While growing up, Maradona developed a keen interest in soccer, perhaps the only sport played and cherished in his vicinity. He fell in love with soccer ever since he touched the ball. It could also be due to his surroundings’ impact as everyone in that region was too fond of the game.
Whether due to his surroundings’ influence or his own passion for the game, Diego soon developed a pretty decent soccer skill and made the ball talk when he was on it. His game’s development grabbed him much attention from local clubs’ scouts. It raised a few eyebrows in the regional academies’ dugouts.
It all started when a talent scout spotted Maradona’s talent while he was playing for his local vicinity’s club, Estrella Roja. He was then accepted by Los Cebollitas, Argentinos Junior’s junior academy, as a ball boy. During their games, he used to amuse the spectators with his balling tricks when both the teams were off the pitch during the half time.
Start of his professional soccer career
At that time, he was twelve and already in the eyes of many junior academies and local clubs’ scouts. Diego’s talent never let him away from the limelight. Wherever he went, he would grasp the attention of everyone who had even the tiniest bit of love for the game.
Maradona made his professional soccer debut at the age of sixteen for Argentinos Junior. In the fall of ’76, the world witnessed El Pibe de Oro (The Golden Boy), shining on the pitch in his playing boots. The moment he touched the ball, the pundits knew that the boy is about to define an era, and his name would echo in all the legendary Colosseums around the globe.
His first match was against Talleres de Cordoba, in which he had a decent impact on the game, despite not scoring a goal. Maradona’s first goal came just a few weeks after his first game when he scored a screamer against San Lorenzo and got his name on the score sheet.
Diego played a hundred and sixty-seven games for his first club and scored a hundred and fifteen goals. That was a number too good for a player of his age, which is why he moved up the ladder of fame rather quickly.
Entering a bigger arena
After making some wonderful performances with Argentinos Juniors, Maradona’s transfer to a bigger arena was bound to happen. Being under the radar of some relatively bigger clubs, Maradona was contacted by Boca Juniors to discuss the possibility of a transfer. Seeing it as a greater opportunity, he willfully accepted the offer. He signed for the state club in the spring of ’81, at a transfer fee of four million US dollars.
Despite being approached by the local rival club River Plate, who offered him a position of club’s highest-paid player, Diego went for Boca Juniors as per his childhood dream. The challenges at Boca Juniors were bigger as his next phase of life demanded more from him. He quickly climbed the ladder of success at Boca Juniors. He registered a huge number of goals to his name, the first of which coming against Talleres de Cordoba in his debut for the club, where he scored twice in a 4-1 victory.
There had always been a strong local rivalry between Boca Juniors and River Plate. Their match was known as Superclasico. Diego added a goal to his goal tally in his first Superclasico, giving his club a comfortable 3-1 victory against its rivals.
Then came the WorldCup of 1982. Maradona played in most of the games for his country and displayed a splendid performance throughout the tournament despite not making it to the finals. After the tournament, FC Barcelona approached the wonder boy and signed him for 7.6 million US dollars. It was a record transfer at that time since, at that time, no player was valued that much.
Maradona’s time at Barcelona was not that pleasant for him, even though he hit the back of the net twenty-two times in thirty-six appearances. During his Barcelona days, Diego fell victim to some injuries and controversial on-pitch events, which led him to move elsewhere. Capitalizing on the situation, the famous Italian club Napoli saw a golden opportunity and signed him for a second-time world record transfer fee of 10.48 million US dollars.
His time at Napoli
On 5th July 1984, Maradona juggled the ball in front of seventy-five thousand Napoli fans, presenting himself as a Napoli player for the first time. Many Napoli fans gave him the title of a savior, and he proved them correct with his performances. Maradona’s tenure at Napoli was his longest for any club. He played eight consecutive seasons for the club and earned all his major accolades during that time.
Napoli dominated the league as long as Maradona played with them. Even with some great clubs like Juventus, AC Milan, Internazionale, it was Napoli that triumphed on the big stage of Italian Serie A for the season’ 86-’87. Maradona captained Napoli for a long time and took the club to its peak performance era.
His affiliations with other clubs include his time at Sevilla, Newell’s Old Boys, and back to Boca Juniors. However, most of these affiliations did not last for more than a season. Hence, making his time at Napoli the most notable one during his playing tenure.
‘Idol’ – One of Maradona’s titles
Maradona was often called ‘D10S’ by his followers, which literally translates into God. His fans gave him the title of Dios, God, or Idol because of his inhumane style of play and some tricks that only he could perfectly pull off on the pitch. However, these titles led to controversy against him and strong dislike among many Christians. The reason for this strong dislike is because of what the Bible says in the First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodo 20:3). What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things. According to this Commandment, there is only one true God, and every Christian must abide to him and his teachings.
As time passed, the fandom for Maradona grew fiercer and took the form of a cult. Things got out of hand when his fans worldwide completely lost it and went way beyond limits in their love for him. Iglesia Maradoniana, or simply Maradonian Church, was a religion found by three of Maradona’s greatest fans in Rosario on 30th October 1998 (Diego’s 38th birthday).
As per Christianity’s teachings, a man must put his entire belief in the Triune God and believe only in him. Regardless of how much a person loves or admires their stars, they should not idolize them. Although many followers of Iglesia Maradoniana claimed that their rational religion was Christianity and that the other one was just a form of their passion, Christians, kept condemning this act.
Maradona was famous for drug abuse. He often had sessions with his club’s physio to discuss his poor diet plans, drug abuse, and extreme lifestyle off the pitch. He often had personal issues due to the illicit use of drugs and alcohol abuse that kept him away from training sessions. The same was the reason for his slightly careless attitude towards his playing career, for which the media often bashed him.
Political affiliations and preferences
Diego was a staunch advocate of left-wing politics. When asked about the Israel-Palestinian conflict, he straightforwardly condemned the pre-existing Palestinian state’s gradual conversion into Israel. He considered Israel’s bombing of the Gaza strip during the Gaza war of 2014 as a shameful act of terrorism. Diego also developed a strong acquaintance with Fidel Castro (the famous Cuban leader). He had his fellow Argentine Che Guevara’s portrait tattooed on his right arm.
Considering his political beliefs and preferences, Diego seemed like a rational person who supported what was right and condemned what was wrong. However, many people and world leaders criticize him for his progressivism in politics. Regardless of his political preference, the great truth is that all political systems are composed of sinful human beings and therefore all of them are corrupted and therefore imperfect.
Maradona’s Death and tributes
The biggest tribute paid on Diego’s recent demise was from the Argentine Football Association — AFA, which expressed the deepest condolences on their legendary soccer player and national hero’s sad departure. “You will always be in our hearts” were the association’s comments as per the latest local media press release. Apart from that, the Argentinian President, Alberto Fernández, announced national mourning for three days and AFA suggested a minute of silence before kickoff in every match of all the Argentine championships.
The stadium of San Paola in Naples was illuminated at the night of Maradona’s demise, with a large crowd gathered in the facility to pay their homage. The Napoli soccer club owner has shown their will to change their stadium’s name as a tribute to the legend.
His battle against his addictions and worldly desires
Just like the mission of ‘Developing Our World,’ Maradona also fought his battles against addictions and worldly desires and considered such things as distractions from the righteous path. An addiction is considered a disease that will always keep the human being in a state of spiritual and material poverty. We believe that holistic community development is the antidote to that.
Like Diego, there are still millions of people worldwide striving to get heal, spiritual and physically. Developing Our World aims to teach people that idolatry is a form of spiritual poverty. Humans, collectively, must refrain from indulging themselves in the fandom of a certain public figure or things to an extent where they start forgetting their basic Christian teachings. We work to keep the true essence of Christianity alive by following Jesus’s teachings and communicating them to others.
The organization’s activities are centered around the holistic community development perspective in poverty alleviation, which focuses on not only fighting material deprivation but spiritual deprivation as well. While the church has a fundamental role in this mission, it is up to individuals like you to understand this and become a primary agent for promoting God’s holistic mission on Earth. Reach out to us to show your support today!