Diego Maradona’s life was synonymous with excess off the field, which eventually played a big role in his demise at the age of 60. There is no doubt that Maradona will be remembered for his brilliance as a footballer, but the images of the years after his playing career, sadly, stood out just as much.
Not picked for the 1978 World Cup because the coach felt Maradona was too young at 15, he went on to create history and became the yardstick to measure greatness with for the generations after him.
However, off the field, living his life in excess did not help his health which deteriorated rapidly.
For the Argentine great, who was at the peak of his powers in 1986, trouble started following him in 1991 when he was handed a 15-month ban from football for doping – the same year when he was called for trial in Naples for alleged links with a criminal activity. That was the end of his storied stint in Italy.
The lowest point in his career would be in 1994 in USA when he was sent back from the World Cup for drug usage and it was announced before Argentina took on Bulgaria. He was subsequently handed a 15-month ban, bringing down the curtains on his international career.
The struggle continued for him with drugs and alcohol, and cocaine almost cost him his life in 2000. From being extremely fit, Maradona became a bloated drug addict.
The weight problems continued and that in turn troubled his heart all the more, and four years later he had another heart attack. In 2005, Maradona needed a gastric bypass surgery and a couple of years after that, he was hospitalised due to life-threatening alcohol-induced hepatitis.
The player confronted his demons publicly and openly talking about his addictions, substance abuse and the prescribed pharmaceuticals that accompanied him everywhere he went. “Diego’s medication” was always a large sports bag, guarded by his entourage of the day almost as carefully as the man himself.
Maradona would recover and make his way to the dugout of the national team as coach and then to a few more clubs around the world before returning to Argentina to take over Gimnasia y Esgrima in La Plata in 2019.
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