Diego Armando Maradona Franco top football player in the world

Diego Armando Maradona is one of the greatest players in the history of the game - many even regard him as the greatest. He was a brave and natural born leader on the field, a streetwise character who could pull a rabbit out of the hat at any stage of the game. Short, stocky and left-footed with awe-inspiring ball control, dribbling, passing and playmaking skills, made him almost impossible to contain at his best. And the world got to see him at his peak in the 1986 World Cup. His tournament contribution to Argentina's triumph has been generally accepted as the best in history by a single player of any World Cup.

He was born in Buenos Aires and grew up in the shantytown of Villa Fiorito in a large family as one of eight kids. Playing for Los Cebollitas (The little onions), Maradona quickly made a name for himself as a wonderboy with unbelievable ball skills. He received national recognition as a 10 year-old entertaining crowds with ball juggling at half-time breaks. A television crew once interviewed him during those years and he said: "I have two dreams: To play in the World Cup and to win it."

Maradona was still only fifteen when he made his debut in top flight club football for struggling Argentinos Juniors, and only sixteen when he won his first cap for Argentina against Hungary in 1977. The career sky rocketed at Argentinos and Maradona was top scorer five times in the Argentinian league, twice in the Nacional tournament and three times in the Metropolitano. He was voted South American Player of the Year in 1979 and 1980.

His first major disappointment was to be dropped from Argentina's World Cup squad for the tournament on home soil in 1978. Coach Cesar Luis Menotti felt Maradona was too young at 17 to cope with the pressure of this occasion. Reputedly, he was the last player to be cut from the 22 man roster which originally had a bunch of other names. The following year Maradona lead Argentina to the World Youth Cup title in Japan instead.

A playmaker who operated in the classic number 10 position, Maradona is the only player in football history to set the world record transfer fee twice, first when he transferred to Barcelona for a then world record £5m, and second, when he transferred to Napoli for another record fee £6.9m.He played for Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell's Old Boys during his club career, and is most famous for his time at Napoli where he won numerous accolades. In his international career with Argentina, he earned 91 caps and scored 34 goals. Maradona's exceptional vision, passing, ball control, dribbling skills, speed, reflexes and thinking time was combined with his small size (he was 5'5", or 1.65m) giving him a low center of gravity which allowed him to be more maneuverable than most other football players; he would often dribble past multiple opposing players on a run. His presence on the pitch would have a great effect on his team's general performance, while he would often be singled out by the opposition. A precocious talent, Maradona was given the nickname "El Pibe de Oro" ("The Golden Boy"), a name that stuck with him throughout his career.

Publish Date August 17 2015

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