Controversial Argentinian footballer, who led Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup.
The product of a Buenos Aries shanty-town, Maradona became a child celebrity for his foot-juggling tricks, performed on national television and during half-time at football matches. He became a professional footballer at fifteen, quickly establishing himself as the nation's favourite by his flamboyance and skills. In 1982 he was sold to Barcelona for a then-record fee of about £5 million, but developed a reputation for temperamental behaviour; he was sold again, for an even higher fee, in 1984. This time the investment paid off, as Maradona hit peak form, taking his new club, Napoli, to a series of national and European triumphs. His presence dominated the 1986 World Cup as player, captain of the victorious Argentinian side, and scorer of a notorious fisted goal in the quarter-final against England (ascribed by its author to ‘the hand of God’). In 1991 Maradona's future looked uncertain when traces of cocaine were found in his urine and he was banned from world football for fifteen months; he also received a fine and a suspended prison sentence from an Italian court for possession of drugs. He returned to football in 1993, when a tribunal ruled that he had complied with medical treatment to end his drug addiction, and resumed his position as captain of Argentina. However, further controversy followed when he was caught using performance-enhancing drugs during the 1994 World Cup, resulting in another fifteen-month ban. Several weeks later he was indicted for firing an air rifle at a group of journalists. He became president of the International Association of Footballers in 1995.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).