Diego Armando Maradona (30 October 1960 – 25 November 2020) was an Argentine professional football player and manager. Widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, he was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the 20th Century award
Following on from the new documentary ‘Simply Maradona’, charting the life and career one of football’s most gifted players and colourful characters, The Independent’s Miguel Delaney has revealed ‘El Diego’ had a “physical programme” like no other back in the day as a 27-year old in 1988.
Even with a crazy coke addition, Maradona would still somehow manage to tear it up on the pitch. Still not failing any drugs test up until this point, he would win his second Scudetto with Napoli in the 1989/90 season as well as the Supercoppa Italiana.
Speaking to Argentina’s Tyc Sports in 2014, he said: “I gave my opponents a big advantage due to my illness. Do you know the player I could have been if I hadn’t taken drugs?”
“I am 53 going on 78 because my life hasn’t been normal. I’ve lived 80 [years] with the life I’ve gone through.”
Things would eventually catch up with Maradona, though. His relationship with the mafia and authorities soured after he helped Argentina knock Italy out of the 1990 World Cup and he was given a 15-month ban for testing positive for cocaine in 1991.
His downwards spiral continued when he was arrested back home in Buenos Aires for possessing half-kilo of cocaine and handed a 14-month suspended sentence.
Then in 1994 at the World Cup in the United States, he scored a stunning goal in the 4-0 group stage win over Greece and looked liked his eyes were about to pop out of their sockets in his celebration.
Just nine days later, prior to the final group stage game, Maradona was sent home from the tournament after failing another drugs test, this time for the banned substance ephedrine.
“Maradona must have taken a cocktail of drugs because the five identified substances are not found in one medicine,” was the analysis of Michel d’Hooghe, a doctor and member of FIFA’s executive committee, as per the18.com.
Receiving another lengthy ban from FIFA, he never represented La Albiceleste again.
He would turn out for Newell’s Old Boys and Boca Juniors at club level but failed a third drugs text in six years while playing for the latter in 1997 – Boca president Mauricio Macri saying he was told cocaine was found in the results that came back from his urine sample.
It sparked the end of his memorable and eventful career and led to serious health problems such as an overdose in 2000, a heart attack four years later and hepatitis in 2007.
Earlier this year during his stint as manager of Mexican side Dorados, Maradona was rushed into hospital after suffering internal bleeding in his stomach.
He was able to make a speedy recovery but recently stepped down as manager of the club.