Maradona: the life and afterlife of a global icon
All over the world, sports fans commemorate Armando Diego Maradona, the Argentine football champion and pop culture icon.
Diego Armando Maradona is back in the place where his humble origins lay. Sixty years after his birth in a shantytown near Buenos Aires, the football player is laid to rest in the Argentine capital.
The former athlete died of heart failure while he was sleeping. He had long suffered from heart and vascular problems, despite his young age.
Maradona was born on October 30, 1960 in a working-class family. From that modest environment, he was catapulted into global fame thanks to his talent with the ball .
Maradona was the fifth of eight children. Two of his brothers were also footballers, although without they did not have Diego's luck and talent.
Shortly before his 16th birthday, Maradona played his first football game in the Argentinean First Division. He played for Argentinos Juniors against Talleres on October 20, 1976.
Soon enough, Maradona would climb division ranks and become a star in the national team. He wore the Argentine shirt on 91 occasions, scoring 34 goals.
The absolute summum was the global championship for Argentina in 1986. Maradona had the reputation of a global superstar.
Many even excused his famous (and illegitimate) handball goal in the Argentina-England match in that same tournament. Maradona said that it was "the hand of God" that brought the ball into the English goal. Few others would have gotten away with it.
Over the course of the 80s and early 90s, Maradona played in several European top clubs. One of them was F.C. Barcelona in Spain. Another was the Italian club SSC Napoli, associated with the humble southern city of Naples. Maradona played more matches with Napoli than with any other team in his career.
Maradona lifted the team to the highest national level and helped them win the Italian championship for the first time in 1987.
SCC Napoli fans still regard Maradona as a near-religious icon.
Problems with toxic substances caused many a crisis in Maradona's life.
His weight and temperament would change as often as his hairstyle and financial status. Both on and off the field, he could behave like an indomitable rebel.
Maradona was capable of picking a fight whenever the occasion suggested it. Sometimes he fought literally, like the day he threw punches in the final of the Spanish Copa del Rey in 1984. He played with F.C. Barcelona against Athletic de Bilbao, and King Juan Carlos I himself was in the stadium. Afterwards, Maradona apologized to the king.
Maradona's football talent, however, was rarely affected. Until his very last game, he played like a genius. It was October 25, 1997, and the club was Boca Juniors in Buenos Aires.
Despite his temperament and drug abuse, no one in the world of football ever denied Maradona's status as a genius. 'Maradona' has remained a name of international glory. Together with Pelé, he was (and still is) considered "the best player in the world."
In the image we see Maradona with Rocío Oliva, one of the women with whom he had a sentimental relationship. The footballer's private life was as hectic as his professional life. With Claudia Villafañe he had his two daughters, Dalma and Gianinna, but he faced several other paternity claims throughout his life.
Maradona had a special friendship with the Cuban leader Fidel Castro. He went to Cuba regularly to recover after seasons of tough football or excessive bad habits.
As a curious coincidence, Castro and Maradona died on the same day. The Cuban communist passed away on 25 November 2016 and Maradona exactly four years later.
With Maradona the world has lost an iconic figure. He's part of global pop culture, and his status goes far beyond that of a great sportsman.