Football wizard Diego Maradona passed away at the age of 60 at his home on the outskirts of Buenos Aires on Wednesday following a heart attack. His death came a week after he underwent a brain surgery to remove a blood clot. Born on 30th of October, 1960, Maradona earned 91 caps for Argentina, scored 34 goals and led his country to the FIFA World Cup title in 1986. He represented Argentina in four World Cups.
Maradona’s exploits on the field left the footballing world vertically split in terms of who is the greatest – Pele or Maradona? His second goal against England in the Mexico World Cup, which came after the controversial ‘Hand of God’ goal, was rated the ‘Goal of the Century’ by voters in 2002. To date, the debate continues though the two legends had become close friends after initial missives.
Incidentally, Maradona is the first player in the history of football to set record transfer fees and that, too, twice. He went to Barcelona with a then-world record fee of 5 million pounds before signing up for Napoli for a whopping 6.9 million.
The stretch of his genius coupled with his on and off-field demeanour that almost bordered on the irreverent not only catapulted Maradona to the pinnacle of glory but also left millions of his followers in complete awe of his carefree charisma. From the ‘Hand of God’ moment till he left for the Elysian fields, controversies and Maradona have been synonymous. Yet, his child-like countenance, his Godsend skills, the antics off the field after retirement, his profligate lifestyle and his incisive comments on football added to his legend.
From Boca Juniors to the global amphitheatre of football, where careers can be made or broken in just 90 minutes of less, Maradona’s journey has been like a gripping paperback – shared excitedly by millions and ruthlessly critiqued by football puritans and yet kept carefully guarded in a chest of rare gems by all for posterity.
As Kolkata joins millions of Maradona’s fans across the world in mourning his passing away, the city reminisces his genius as well as his visit to the city twice. The first time the legend flew into Kolkata was in 2008 to inaugurate the Indian Football School in Maheshtala, south of Kolkata. Later, on a charity tour, he visited Kolkata again, in 2017.

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