In the summer of 2018, the World Cup in Russia was overshadowed by a bizarre appearance in the official gallery in St. Petersburg.

During the game between Argentina and Nigeria, Diego Maradona, visibly close to madness, could be seen in close-up.

With ecstatic convulsions, the former king of football invited a woman next to him to dance, leaned over the parapet in a dangerous way to receive the homage of his Argentine fans, started wild chants, showed the stadium the stretched middle finger and in between took a nap.

When Lionel Messi then scored a goal, his predecessor as a folk hero swelled his veins in his temples, his eyes came out of his head with the roar (“Messi! Messi!”) And when he left the stands after the final whistle, he had to be supported.

They took Maradona to the hospital straight away, and the football world was expecting the worst.

But the next day, the reborn gave the all-clear on Instagram, defiantly he wrote: “Diego will be there for a while.” Now the sad news reaches us: The while is over.

This time it's true.

This has to be said explicitly, because many will not believe it straight away, too often Maradona has been declared dead prematurely.

We remember that Argentine reporter colleague who said at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa: “A cat has seven lives, but at Maradona we stopped counting.” Even after the bizarre stand in St. Petersburg, it went like so often: At the age of 57, a crackpot said on the Internet, the football king had died in hospital of cardiac arrest.

A few days later, Maradona scolded indignantly on his TV show: "Do I look like I'm dead?"


At least he didn't look good.

Maradona didn't have a chance per se, but he took it

Diego Armando Maradona.

You can't do justice to this grandiose, crazy, unrepeatable shape of football with an obituary, you need two: One for the unearthly football god - and the other for the poor guy off the field who couldn't cope without the ball on his foot and got lost in the underground labyrinth of life.

This life had gotten off to a good start.

Anyone who is born in Fiorito, this not-so-lucky district of Buenos Aires, actually has no chance, but the little Wuschelkopf took advantage of it.

At 16, “El Pibe de Oro”, the golden boy, was old enough for the first international match, and the Argentine coach Cesar Luis Menotti said: “What Diego can do with our feet, we mortals can't even do with our hands.” A little later delighted the child prodigy at FC Barcelona and SSC Napoli as the best footballer in the world.


At the World Cup in Mexico in 1986, Maradona shot his country to the throne.

In the quarter-finals he danced past six Englishmen from the middle line and conjured himself up to be the goal of the century.

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Then he became FIFA Footballer of the Century, along with Pele.

A jury of experts chose the Brazilian, the large Internet jury the Argentine.

Well-known world champion trainer Carlos Alberto Parreira later ended the nonsensical scholarly war of who was better with the question: "Who was better - Monet or Van Gogh?"

Footballer of the Century: Pele and Maradona

Source: dpa / Str

But now the bad news.

When Hector Pezzella, the director of the “Güemes” clinic in Buenos Aires, treated his compatriot one day, he shocked the world with the diagnosis: “I think Maradona thinks he is a god”.

Review of his biggest World Cup

Diego Maradona was without a doubt one of the greatest footballers in history.

We take a detailed look back at his biggest World Cup: Mexico 1986.

Source: Stats Perform News


Were those the aftermath of that fabulous 1986 World Cup game against England?

Maradona scored a second legendary goal that day, unfair, irregular, with his bare fist.

"It was the hand of God," he claimed after the final whistle.

Did Maradona consider himself the extended arm of the Almighty?

Or for God himself?

On the way to the world title 1986 Maradona used "the hand of God"

Source: dpa

His disciples, his worshipers, persuaded him to do so.

They founded their own church for their saint, the "Iglesia Maradoniana", whereby they did not write "Dios", the Spanish word for God, but "D10S" - the "10" stood for Maradona's biblical number on the back.

His avowed fans met regularly on his birthdays, worshiped him devoutly and, as his apostles, sold T-shirts that read: “I have seen God.” Only the strong can endure such homage in the long run.

At some point Maradona couldn't get it right - and his fake friends who supplied him with drugs did the rest.

The "hand of God" made him immortal

Diego Maradona is considered by many to be one of the best players in football history.

Unforgettable to this day: His hand-goal in the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico against England.

The career of Diego Maradona.

Source: Omnisport

Maradona began talking about dying when she was in her mid-30s.

At the 1994 World Cup, he, the crowned king, was caught doping.

He announced that he was only not killing himself because of his daughters, and once he said on television: "Many people always wanted to see me dead - I am dead." Star springs up into the TV studio for the talk show, dances the tango with a beauty queen named Cecilia - and collapses.

Then you see him in a wheelchair in the hospital, and the medical world whispers about "irreparable defects", points out the destruction of brain cells due to excessive cocaine consumption and sees the star psychologically disintegrating.

Depression, aggression, paranoia, risk of suicide.

Maradona was then sent to Switzerland for resuscitation, to a clinic on Lake Biel, to combat his drug addiction, and at the height of the therapy the professor demanded: "I want you to play big again at the 1998 World Cup." Maradona nodded .

But shortly afterwards he stuck his four letters in the face of a stadium folder in England with his trousers down, and in Alicante, Spain, he smashed two doors, a table and five armchairs in the hotel.

A heart attack followed at 43. Even before he was 50, he was poking around in the fog of his life so much that a psychiatric observer reported: “In a hospital one thought he was Einstein and another Newton, and when Maradona said that he was Maradona, they laughed. "

Diego Maradona?

"Best Player Ever"

Diego Maradona is one of the best footballers of all time.

Bayer Leverkusen's Rudi Völler remembers the duels with the "Hand of God" in Serie A and raves about the Argentine.

Source: Omnisport

Maradona tried with all means to destroy himself, getting caught in a deadly cycle between genius and madness.

His liver was attacked, and an aggravating factor was his body, which had swelled to 140 kilos.

As "Maratonna" he made headlines, and in dire need his stomach was cut in half.

He then went into temporary exile in Cuba, had Fidel Castro give him a revolutionary cap, and in the end the shortest heading was: "He's crazy."

But still - he was alive.

“The bearded man,” said Maradona, “always saves me.” He did not mean the bearded man in Cuba, but the one in heaven who lent him his hand once more: he rose from the dead - and became national coach.

Maradona on arrival at Havana airport.

In September 2004 he went into rehab there

Source: AFP via Getty Images / ADALBERTO ROQUE

The journalists in particular, whom Maradona had occasionally shot at with an air rifle, were skeptical.

In the past, they wrote, Diego had a magic ball at his feet, but as a coach he has a board in front of his head.

Maradona paid them back, but no longer ingenious, but genital.

After successfully qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, he offered reporters at the press conference: "And now you can all give me a blah ..." He blew his enemies on the march.


At the World Cup in South Africa, too, everything went well initially.

His gauchos had just defeated the Mexicans 3: 1, so a journalist at the press conference thought a step further - and asked Maradona about the next opponent in the quarter-finals, the German.

“No, no, no,” he grumbled, “today we're talking about our victory and tomorrow about Germany.” The reporters kept digging.

“Didn't you hear it,” Maradona raised her voice, “I'm not saying anything about Germany!” “Just a word,” begged one.

“You know what,” Maradona went into the air, “write what you want.” And then he again had his thick, steaming Havana handed to him, which one of his henchmen had kept warm while the master spoke.

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Maradona was under steam.

He was El Diego again, the great one.

Every day he was on everyone's lips as a proud rooster, with his diamonds in his ear and the rosary wound around his fingers he magnetically attracted every camera.

Every step, every blink of the eye was broadcast live - and Maradona promised that if he won the World Cup he would run naked through Buenos Aires.

Then it went bad, 0: 4 against Germany.


Diego Maradona, who was once adored, was henceforth more and more regretted and ridiculed.

He did strange things, made friends with questionable leaders (as he used to do with Gaddafi in Libya), took to the stage in the election campaign in Venezuela for Chavez and later Maduro (“I am his soldier”), and bitter words often made the rounds : crazy, crazy.

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He was still president of Dinamo Brest.

What exactly he was doing there in Belarus was never really known, but it is said to have been the best contract of his life.

The Mexican second division team he coached afterwards, or a club in Dubai before that, also paid good money to be able to adorn himself with a world star who could do everything as long as he had a ball on his foot.

Most recently he coached Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata, an Argentine club, pretty much rocked.

Like Maradona.

Maradona after winning the final (3: 2) over the German national team at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico

Source: AP / Carlo Fumagalli

Ryan Giggs, the virtuoso ex-dribbler from Manchester United, was a magician, like Maradona, and yet a comparatively small light to him.

Giggs knew what he was talking about when he said what should be the closing words here: “The best of all time is Maradona.

Today there are strong players like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.

But I saw things from Maradona that I have never seen from anyone else in the history of football. "

“Diego Maradona” - portrait of a football icon

With images from over 500 hours of private video material from Diego Maradona, director Asif Kapadia created a work in honor of the football legend.

The documentation also reveals the downside of fame.

Source: WELT / DCM