The last time Argentina won the World Cup was in 1986 and the man who led them to the title was ‘El Magico’, Diego Armando Maradona.
Widely notorious for his short-temper but also worshipped by many for his amazing talent, Maradona was the ultimate maverick. He could dribble past players like a hot knife through butter. He could pick out a teammate with a fantastic pass that would leave defenses stunned and he could produce moments of magic on a daily basis.
Starting his career with Boca Juniors, Maradona became known on the world stage during his stints with FC Barcelona and Napoli. His transfers to both clubs were then-world records and the Argentine legend won league titles at both clubs. His exploits at Napoli are even more remarkable considering that the club from Southern Italy was never a powerhouse in the Serie A, which was dominated by Juventus and the Milan clubs.
Maradona’s career’s pinnacle, however, came in 1986 when he led Argentina to their second World Cup title. In a team that was devoid of great star power, Maradona led La Albiceleste to a storied win. During the course of the tournament, in typical Maradona style, he was both a figure of controversy and awe. Against England in the 1986 Quarter-Finals, Maradona scored a goal using his hand, what is now referred to as the ‘Hand of God’. He then scored another goal in which he dribbled past eight English players. That goal is called the ‘Goal of the Century.
Maradona reached another World Cup final in 1990, with the opponents being the same as 1986, West Germany. The Germans, however, got the better of Maradona and Argentina as they won the first World Cup of the 1990s.
The 1994 World Cup served as the final bow for Maradona, whose personal life had been in a turmoil for long. That turmoil spilled on over to his professional career as he was tested positive for a ‘cocktail of drugs’ and was sent back home after playing only two games. Soon after, Maradona announced his retirement from the game. A sad end to one of the greatest careers in the history of the beautiful game.