FOOTBALL has been brought into mourning after losing one of its finest ever players on Wednesday afternoon.
Diego Maradona died of a heart attack at his home in Buenos Aires aged 60, after a lifetime of bringing smiles to people’s faces.
Charismatic Diego was much beloved by the football community[/caption]
Maradona produced moments that will never be forgotten[/caption]
While undoubtedly one of the game’s most gifted technicians ever, Maradona experienced troubling difficulties with addiction off the pitch.
Through it all, however, he remained a colourful, engaging figure that brought so much joy and entertainment to those that experienced his presence down the years.
So here SunSport takes a look through some of his maddest ever moments, as the football world prepares to miss, but never forget, Diego Armando Maradona.
Hand of God
Even at 5ft 5in Maradona managed to rise above Peter Shilton[/caption]
When English football fans picture Diego Maradona, this infamous moment at the 1986 World Cup is rarely far from their thoughts.
Argentina took on England in the quarter-finals in Mexico City, with both nations’ dreams hinging on the 22 players that took to the field.
But one of those men in particular stole the show.
As the ball looped into the area in the 51st minute, 5ft 5in Maradona leapt above Peter Shilton to punch the ball into the net unpunished by the referee – with the goal going down as one of the most iconic in football history.
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And if that wasn’t enough, he then ran from his own half just four minutes later, beating countless hapless Three Lions stars before rounding Shilton and scoring.
After the match, he described the goal as being scored: “A little with his head, and a little with the hand of God.”
The Maradona-inspired Argentinians went on to win the tournament, beating West Germany 3-2 in the final.
Failed drugs tests
Maradona was forced to leave the 1994 World Cup mid-way through after failing a drugs test[/caption]
While one of the world’s most celebrated footballers, Maradona suffered with a terrible drug addiction.
The superstar battled with his addiction even during his playing career, and was first banned for 15 months following a failed drugs test in 1991 – ending his legendary seven-year spell at Napoli – where to this day he is still adored.
He was then charged for drug trafficking and possession later that year, receiving a suspended 12 month sentence.
Maradona subsequently returned with Sevilla and Newell’s Old Boys, before testing positive for five prohibited substances during the 1994 World Cup, again receiving a 15 month ban and spending several weeks at a Swiss clinic in order to try and kick his drugs problem.
Addiction is a disease that even the greats can struggle to defeat, and a third failed drugs test in 1997 ultimately brought the curtain down on Maradona’s distinguished playing career.
Following his failed drugs test in 1991, it was in doubt whether Maradona, then 33, would even make Argentina’s World Cup squad in 1994, as fitness issues loomed.
The talisman was eventually included, however, captaining the side as he tried to bounce back from narrowly losing the final to West Germany four years previously.
It would later emerge that he was taking drugs during the tournament, testing positive for five prohibited substances.
And some fans had already guessed it, after his eye-bulging celebration against Greece.
A Gabriel Batistuta brace had set the Albiceleste on their way to victory.
But when Maradona scored their third, he ran straight to a pitchside camera, his eyes bulging wildly in the moment.
The two footballing greats had an up-and-down relationship[/caption]
Pele, also renowned as one of the greatest footballers of all time, has offered a touching tribute to Maradona, saying: “Certainly one day we’ll kick a ball together in the sky above.”
But things weren’t always cordial between the pair.
Diego alleged that the Brazilian icon had been having a relationship with one of his youth coaches at Santos, while also accusing him of allowing pal Garrincha to die in poverty.
Thankfully, despite the previous mud-slinging, it appeared that the two had finally made peace at a charity event in 2016, as they were photographed embracing.
And Maradona said, a few months after Pele’s hip surgery: “It is really nice to see him like this, healthy, and being able to join us.”
Maradona slid to the turf in delight after Martin Palermo’s late winner against Peru[/caption]
In 2008, Maradona became manager of the Argentina National Team, completing the transition from talisman, to captain, to coach.
Despite possessing the likes of Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, however, they became embroiled in a tense battle to even qualify for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.
Their chances of making it appeared in bleak peril, after Peru conjured up a 90th minute equaliser during a rain-sodden qualifier in Buenos Aires.
But Martin Palermo, who Maradona had recalled to the set-up after ten years in the wilderness, tapped in at the back post three minutes later to spark pandemonium.
And Maradona wasn’t going to play down the celebrations, instead producing a belly slide in full suit as he let his jubilation be seen by the world.
Argentina went on to qualify, reaching the quarter-finals in South Africa.
World Cup 2018 collapse
Maradona went wild as his nation reached the last 16 in Russia[/caption]
Eight years on from his World Cup experience as a manager, Maradona was back to being merely a distinguished fan in the posh seats.
Diego was in attendance in St Petersburg as Argentina faced Nigeria in a crunch group stage match in their quest to reach the knockouts.
And he was wild and erratic, kicking every ball as his nation produced a nerve-shredding 2-1 victory.
He was pictured during the game going mad, while also giving opposing fans sat below ‘the finger’.
But he also gave everyone a scare after the game, when he was seen hunched over and having to be held up by a pal.
Maradona collapsed and was taken to hospital after the game for precautionary checks.
Dinamo Brest flash
Following that 2018 World Cup, Maradona landed himself a new job, as chairman of top-flight Belarusian side Dinamo Brest.
But after being unveiled, Diego appeared to take his new team’s name a little too literally.
For some reason finding himself perched on the roof of a parked car, Maradona was serenaded by joyous supporters beneath.
And, bizarrely, he responded by starting to unbutton his shirt.
The next thing you knew, he was showing the gathered supporters his nipples in a bizarre turn of events.
He left the role in September 2018, to take the manager gig at Mexican side Dorados.