The 2010 World Cup is getting ever nearer and players like Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney, Liverpool’s Fernando Torres and Chelsea’s Didier Drogba will be looking to elevate themselves to legendary status. But just how good was Diego Maradona? England fans remember him for his Hand of God goal in Argentina’s victorious 1986 World Cup campaign, but how good is he compared to today’s stars and where does he rank on your all-time list of World Cup greats?
Maradona was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1960 and his height of just 5ft 5in was central to his style of play. He was incredibly gifted technically, able to control the ball in tight spaces and beat defenders with ease, with the speed and precision of both his dribbling and passing of the highest order. His low centre of gravity and compact physique gave have him both speed and strength and made him the most feared attacker of the late 20th century.
The 1986 Mexico World Cup is recognised as Maradona’s tournament, where his performances led Argentina to victory. He played every minute of every game, scoring five goals and making five assists on route to the final where a 3-2 victory against West Germany ensured that he will be remembered as a World Cup legend. Maradona was Argentina’s captain and star player, ending the competition as the player of the tournament and as a result writing his name in history.
England fans will remember the little genius for his role in England’s 2-1 quarter final defeat against Argentina and see two different sides to him. One is the incredible talent that he possessed, optimised by the winning goal in that match where in eleven touches he ran more than half the length of the field, beating five England defenders and rounding Peter Shilton to put the ball in the back of the net. However, it is the equaliser that still haunts many England fans to this day, where he cheated by punching the ball into the back of the net and scoring the Hand of God ‘goal’.
Maradona’s club career spanned from 1976 to 1997, during which time he played 490 games and scored 258 goals. In his international career he played 91 times for Argentina, finding the back of the net 34 times and making him Argentina’s most celebrated player. Since retiring he has been voted as Fifa Player of the Century, an award that he shared with Brazilian Pele.
Controversy has followed Maradona throughout his career, most notably when he failed a doping test for cocaine in 1991 and was banned from football in 1991. He has also struggled in his managerial career, but Argentina have qualified for the 2010 World Cup next summer and Maradona will be looking to lead them to glory.
Diego Maradona will be remembered for his incredible footballing talent as a World Cup great, but has controversy tarnished his reputation and how does he compare to other legends?
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