A tribute to the the biggest legend in the history of the World Cup
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be the first since the passing of Diego Maradona. With multiple stories and anecdotes on and off the pitch during and after his career, the Argentine is probably one of the biggest icons of football’s main event. Maradona brought joy, fun, and genuine passion to the World Cup as a player, coach, and fan. Here are the top five moments we’ll remember from him.
5. Supporting Argentina from the stands in 2018
During the last World Cup in Russia, Maradona flew to watch his country play. And despite his fame and glory, the way he conducted himself in the stadium made him look like he was just an ordinary fan of La Albiceleste. His standout show was during the last group stage game against Nigeria. It started with a dance:
From there, things began to escalate. Knowing that Argentina needed a win to qualify for the knockout rounds, the pressure might’ve been a little too much for the former World Cup winner to handle, as you could see by his reaction to his country’s dramatic late winner:
In hindsight, this game may have been a pointer to Maradona’s deteriorating health, as he looked powerless when the final whistle blew. This didn’t deter him from cheering one last time before leaving the stands:
4. The Maradona show as Argentina coach in 2010
In 2008, the Argentinian FA did football fans around the world a massive, appointing Maradona as the national team head coach. Things didn’t look great on the pitch as the team narrowly grabbed the ticket to South Africa in dramatic fashion. But that didn’t dent the world’s excitement ahead of the return of arguably the greatest number 10 in World Cup history in a leading role, with the combination of him on the bench and Messi on the pitch sparking the imagination.
Leading his team on the sidelines in the tournament, the cameras couldn’t take their lens off him.
He provided the complete package of emotional reactions, referee arguments, oversized suits, double-wrist watches, and cheeky skills. And he didn’t even try to hide his desire to switch his suit for the famous blue & white kit and just get on the pitch with the rest of them:
3. Scoring, celebrating, and getting suspended in 1994
Following a victorious campaign in 1986 and a runner-up finish in 1990, Maradona arrived at the 1994 World Cup beyond his prime. That didn’t prevent him from scoring a stunning goal in Argentina’s opening match against Greece, celebrating with a run toward the camera and quite a frightening scream.
It turned out to be his last goal for his country, as he was suspended ahead of the third match against Bulgaria, having failed a drug test, exemplifying Maradona’s glory & tragedy-painted career in a nutshell.
2. The Hand of God
The war between England and Argentina in the Falkland Islands – or Islas Malvinas – has translated into a heated on-pitch rivalry between the countries from the 80s to the present day.
Whereas on the battlefield, the UK was victorious, in footballing terms, the Argentines took their revenge, and Maradona was the driving force behind it.
In the 51st minute of the match between the two in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals, Maradona sneaked into the box, punching the ball into the back of the net with his hand. It became one of the most famous goals in football history. Was it done by accident? Was it deliberate cheating? None of that matters if you don’t get caught, and it was much easier to get away with such a goal in the pre-VAR era. Maradona never claimed innocence, instead drawing a comparison that many Argentinians don’t feel is exaggerated, naming the goal “the Hand of God.”
1. The goal of the century
The number one item on this list occurred only four minutes after the previous one. Whereas the “Hand of God” will remain eternally controversial, Maradona’s second goal in the same game will forever be praised by even the most hardcore England fan, despite being on the receiving end of it. Maradona received the ball in Argentina’s half and took it for a 60-yard run within 10 seconds, overcoming five England players before making it 2-0. For those who haven’t watched Maradona play in real-time, this goal serves as a fitting display of Maradona’s immaculate dribbling technique and was rightfully chosen by FIFA as the “Goal of the Century.” The Mexico ‘86 fairytale story ended in the only way possible: Maradona lifted the trophy and forever cemented his larger-than-life status in his home country.
And now, we hand the mic to Argentina’s commentator, who broadcasted the goal. Sound ON: