On November 25, 2020, the soccer world stopped with the news of the passing of Argentina’s greatest soccer legend, Diego Armando Maradona.
Fans across the world were devastated, especially because Maradona was only 60 years old. Many players expressed their thoughts, including Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. MLS players Josy Altidore, Maxi Moralez, and Diego Valeri also shared their heartfelt tributes on social media.
Maradona’s career was as amazing as it could get. He began his career with Boca Juniors and then went on to play for the European giant Barcelona before moving to Napoli, where he had most of his notable club achievements. In Naples, Maradona was an icon and a hero. He took Napoli, who in the 1980s was always seeming to struggle, against the northern clubs in Italy- Juventus, Inter, and AC Milan. Maradona took the team to two league titles as well as a UEFA Cup during his 7-year stay from 1984 to 1991.
His success with his country’s national team equaled the success he had with his clubs. He took Argentina to World Cup glory in the 1986 World Cup. While many remember his World Cup performance because of his infamous “hand of God” goal against England in the Quarter Finals, Maradona was brilliant throughout the entire run. He scored or assisted ten of Argentina’s 14 goals in the tournament and completed 90 dribbles – the most of anyone in that tournament. A true game-changer for any club he played for and an individual who was just levels above and beyond any of his competition.
For most of his career, Maradona was in the spotlight. He rose to the status of a global icon because of his incredible talent. However, he was also often involved in numerous controversies in his career. He had his fair share of off-field struggles, the most notorious of which was his cocaine addiction. However, it’s important to not forget the brilliance and the impact he brought to the sport. The way Maradona played was unrivaled during his time. Before him, nobody saw a player who could pick up the ball from anywhere on the field, dribble past 3 or 5 players, and score a goal or assist. Today, with players like Messi, Mbappe, Ronaldo, and others, these skills are more common. Maradona paved the way and set the groundwork for future players.
He was an individual who exuded confidence every time he touched the ball. It’s sad to have lost such an influential figure in soccer at such a young age, but his legacy will forever be immortalized, especially in Argentina and Naples. A player who came quite literally from the “poorest of beginnings”, ended up becoming one of soccer’s greatest players through his hard work, dedication, and God-given talent. His story is an inspiration to anyone who aspires to become a professional athlete. His story has given so many people hope all over the world.
The city of Atlanta joins the rest of the world in mourning the death of Diego Maradona. Soccer was forever changed the moment he stepped foot on a field. While he is no longer with us today, his legacy will live forever.