The Hand of
Jimmy Burns was born in Madrid in 1953 and educated at Stonyhurst College ,
Lancashire, and the London School of Economics . His early days in journalism
were with Yorkshire Television and the BBC and as a correspondent for the
Economist and the Observer . He has worked as a foreign correspondent for the
Financial Times and on the newspaper´s labour staff , winning the
“Industrial Reporter of the Year Award” in 1990. He is
currently social affairs and employment correspondent at the Financial Times.
His previous books are “The Land That Lost Its Heroes” , winner of
the Somerset Maugham prize for non – fiction ;
“Beyond the Silver River”; ”Spain: A
Literary Companion”; and the internationally acclaimed
“Barca : A People´s Passion” .
Some Facts and Statistics about Diego Maradona
Name: Diego Armando Maradona
Buenos Aires - Argentina
Argentinos Juniors - Argentina (76/80) 166 matches (116
Boca Juniors - Argentina ( 81, 95/97) 71 matches (35
Barcelona - Spain (82/83) 58 matches (38
Napoli - Italy (84/91) 259 matches (115
Sevilla - Spain (92/93) 29 matches (7
Newell's Old Boys - Argentina (93) 5 matches
* 1978: Top Goalscorer of the Campeonato
* 1979: Top Goalscorer of the Campeonato
* 1979: Top Goalscorer of the Campeonato
* 1979: World Champion with Argentina in the Youth
* 1979: "Olimpia de Oro" to the Best Argentine
Footballer of the year.
* 1979: Chosen by FIFA as the Best
Player of the year in South America.
* 1979: Receives the Gold
Ball as the best player of the moment.
* 1980: Top Goalscorer
of the Campeonato Metropolitano.
* 1980: Top Goalscorer of the
* 1980: Chosen by FIFA as the Best Player
of the year in South America.
* 1981: Top Goalscorer of the
* 1981: Receives the Trofeo Gandulla as
Best Footballer of the year.
* 1981: Champion of Argentina
with Boca Juniors.
* 1983: Wins the Copa del Rey with
* 1985: Named Ambassador of the UNICEF.
* 1986: World Champion with Argentina.
1986: Wins his second "Olimpia de Oro" to the Best Argentine Footballer
of the year.
* 1986: Named "Distinguished Citizen" by the City
of Buenos Aires.
* 1986: Receives the Golden Shoe assigned by
Adidas to the Best Footballer of the year.
* 1986: Gets the
Golden Pen as Best Player in Europe.
* 1987: Italian Serie A
Champion with Napoli.
* 1987: Wins the Italian Cup with
* 1988: Top goalscorer of the Serie A with Napoli.
* 1989: Wins the UEFA Cup with Napoli.
1990: Italian Serie A Champion with Napoli.
Receives the Premio Konex di Brillante for his sport skill.
1990: Second place in the World Cup.
* 1990: Named
"Ambassador of Sport" by the President of Argentina.
Wins the Supercoppa Italiana with Napoli.
* 1993: Awarded as
Best Argentine Footballer of all time.
* 1993: Wins the
Artemio Franchi Cup with Argentina.
* 1995: Receives the
Golden Ball for his career.
* 1995: Awarded as "Master
Inspirer of Dreams" by the University of Oxford.
"Olimpia de Platino" as Best Footballer of the century.
1999: Receives from the AFA the award as best sportsman of the century in
* 1999: His goal of 1986 against England is chosen
as the best goal ever in the history of football.
Elected "FIFA best football player of the century" in a gala ceremony in
Rome after a worldwide poll on the internet.
The life of Diego Armando Maradona
The early steps of his Career
Diego Armando Maradona was born in Buenos Aires in
1960. He was the fifth of the eight children
of Diego Maradona, who is his father and a native Indian, and Dalma Salvadora
Franco. He was nicknamed "El pibe de oro" (the golden boy). Diego lived
in Villa Fiorito, a small village outside Buenos Aires. His uncle Cirilo gave
him his first football at the age of three! The story says that Diego slept with
the football next to him in the bed and you could notice his skills early.
At the age of eight was he the big star in Estrella Roja Red Star
(Cebollitas). In this team, Argentina Juniors scout, Francisco Cornejo
discovered him. He said that Diego came from another planet, that he could do
anything he wanted with the ball and that he had better skills than the others.
He could also keep the ball still on his head or on the left foot as long as he
wanted to! It wasn´t only Cornejo who had seen the art that Diego could do
. The media started to record his tricks when he was ten . During the half time
in the matches in the Argentinean League , was Diego the Half Time attraction
At the age of nine Diego and his friends founded the team Little Onions which
was soon taken over by Argentinos Juniors because of the fact they played so
well. Ten days before his sixteenth birthday Diego played his first match as a
professional for Argentinos Juniors. He was the youngest player in the premier
division and Scored his first goal against Lucangioli, goalkeeper of San Lorenzo
de Mar del Plata.
The timing of this momentous occasion seemed to have exceeded even his ambitions
as years on he was to say 'I always knew I would become great one day, but not
The first experience with the National Team and Boca
By now Maradona's reputation is growing rapidly, and in February of 1977 he
plays his first match for Argentina against Hungary. However, despite his
enormous talent, Argentine coach Cesar Menotti does not include him in his final
squad of 22 players for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina - saying that Maradona
is too young to handle the pressures of the world's greatest soccer tournament.
A decision that was to be a wise one as Argentina lift the famous trophy after
beating Holland in the final, with Mario Kempes being the hero of the Argentine
fans - but Maradona was to have his day.
In June of 1979, he scores his first goal for his country, in Glasgow
against Scotland, and in September that year he leads the Argentine youth side
to victory in the Youth World Cup in Japan - beating the USSR 3-1 in the final.
In February 1981 he joins Boca Juniors.
To avoid mistakes, let’s make something clear from the beginning:
Boca is Maradona, Maradona is Boca. That story that came out from its main
character, about his sympathy to Independiente is supported by his own words:
his fascination for the skills of Bochini and Bertoni. But the truth is that in
his humble house at Azamor and Mario Bravo, in Villa Fiorito, in his
family’s heart and in his own, there was only one flag that flapped
coloured blue and gold. He was raised up loving Boca, he felt, since he was
young that something special was growing between him and the people that
supported Boca.They were the first ones who made an ovation to him at a field,
crying out "Let him stay! / Let him stay!" as an anthem during the recess
between the two halves of a match in First Division between Argentinos and...
Boca. He was only 12 years old. Years later (not many, though), with Argentinos
t-shirt on, he "hit" a symbol of Boca, Hugo Orlando Gatti, scoring four goals.
In a single match, four moments that caused other unanimous ovations: that of
Argentinos supporters, of course... but also, that of the people of
That’s why he insisted so much until he finally got to wear
that t-shirt. He was so involved that he himself helped deal the pass. It was as
follows: River Plate was very interested in counting on Maradona for its team,
giving away whatever was needed. He only had to mention that Boca was just as
enthusiast about him (...when this was not true... Boca was not interested, and
had no money at all) to change the upcoming story.
His dream definitely
came true, in an economic deal, which could easily be considered as a legend of
world economics. Millions of dollars, bank guarantees, chilling fees.
nothing of that was enough to pay for what he did, ever since his debut against
Talleres de Córdoba, the 22nd February, 1981. Two penalty
goals inside Boca’s crowded Stadium (La Bombonera) that helped him become
more self-assured regarding his body, cause he knew he couldn’t give
everything he could straight away. You could say his Boca debut with a 4-1 was
brilliant. Boca go on to win the Argentine championship later that
At the beginning of the match he let Miguel Angel Brindisi, his ideal
partner, be the center of attention. All the same, so that no one could doubt
it, he showed his distinction in the different games. It is the case of a match
against River, in Boca’s Stadium during a rainy night the 10th of April.
When the tournament was coming to an end, the best Maradona showed up. He
defeated Ferro, a team that directed by Carlos Timoteo Griguol, wisely managed
to shift between football, basketball and chess, being a big rival. But Boca,
with Silvio Marzolini as a guide struggled, fought. He then faced the National
Tournament, with lots of trips and friendly matches. All the teams were so tired
that the way was free for the team of Kempes in River Plate.
It was never going to be long before the world sat up and took notice of the
diminutive genius, and Barcelona were the team that got their man - signing
Maradona in June 1982.So Diego left Boca the summer of 1982, almost a year had
past since he had arrived. But he didn’t leave forever.
His time in Barcelona
At the young age of 22 in 1982 to be worth $7.2 million , Diego left at last,
his destiny being Spain. Firstly, to play in World Cup ‘82 and secondly,
to stay in one of the wealthiest football clubs of the world: Barcelona Football
Club. It was not simple for him. They did not make it simple indeed.
Apart from Catalan being the official language of that beautiful Spanish region
called Catlunya, outside the stadium... everyone spoke the same dialect. Inside
the field, Diego found out that for the great majority of his team partners,
running was more important than playing. More rage, less talent. And although
the rest could not learn what he knew since he was born, he sensed that he
should incorporate what everyone considered a virtue- "Put everything inside the
field", according to the ironic definition of César Luis Menotti- in
order to transmit some of his intact magic.
It was of no help the presence of his first manager, the German Udo Lattek. This
man was more worried about the players to carry huge medicine balls than playing
with the real ones -football ones- in the matches. Nevertheless, he succeeded.
He again lighted up the spark of a fantastic and positive discussion: many
people say that what Maradona made with a ball -the real football- in Barcelona,
could never be repeated. For example, that marvelous goal against the Real
Madrid, forever lasting: with a dribble he managed to crack the opposing
defense, that was pressing in the midfield; he ran and ran with the ball stuck
to his left foot, till he faced the goalkeeper, who looked for him far from the
goal line; with another dribble he did not let the goalkeeper touch them, nor
him nor the ball; he therefore headed towards the empty goal, his foot and the
ball being friends forever. When he was about to reach the goal line, and the
posts made shadows over him, he looked through one of the eyes he had on his
neck, just when Juan José, a long haired, heavily bearded defender of the
Real Madrid was decided to terminate with all the parts involved in that
relationship. Then, the magic: he made a sudden stop, took his foot... and his
ball out of reach for the rival and let him pass by, like a torero with a bull.
Poor Juan José he crashed against the post; and great Diego finally
pushed the ball towards the goal.
No man on earth could stop such a football player, but a terrible illness would.
Hepatitis caught him by surprise, just when he had been showing off his magic
for about three months.
He played for the first time on September 4th,
1982, being defeated by Valencia, at Mestalla Stadium, by 2-1. He had played 13
games and had conquered 6 goals when he had to keep absolute rest. He returned
to the fields three months later, on March 12th, against the Betis. The team
manager had changed, as well as his possibilities to have dreams: Menotti and
the League were waiting with open arms. They could not go for all, but they got
something as a reward: the mostly desired King’s Cup.
It was just a matter of starting all over again, for there was no one who could
break such a strong determination.
Yes, there was one. And it had name
and surname: Andoni Goikoetxea, the executioner of the best left foot in
football history. Many people thought that his career had come to an end on that
September 24th of 1983, while some thought that it was going to take a long time
to see him again inside a football field. Both were wrong, as his prompt return
in just 106 days can be considered as the last miracle that took place in
One thing was for sure: to keep a good relationship with president
Joseph Luis Núñez, who pretended more starring than he should,
much more than divine help was needed. And that had no possible solution. At the
end of season, in the middle of a royal battle that took place during the final
match of the King’s Cup, against archrival Athletic Bilbao, on May 5th of
1984 in Madrid, everything reached to an end.After two seasons playing for Barca
, Diego Maradona joined the Italian Club Napoli which was one of the worst in
the Serie A .
The number 10 became a legend
What indeed caught his attention from that populous, southern region he had
arrived to, was the discrimination it suffered from the rest of Italy. He felt
that since the beginning. When he traveled north with his team to play his first
game in Italian League, in the wealthy calcio, against Verona. That took place
in September 16th, 1984; the adverse 3-1 score, along with the flags showed by
the rival fans, caused the mixture of both pain and eagerness inside
Maradona’s blood. "Lavatevi!", have a shower, could be read on them.
Along Diego’s hand, promotion was now an insult even in southern
Change of mentality was so evident that, in the
second season, in 1985/86, and in association with Bruno Giordano, a forward he
himself recommended, Maradona’s Napoli threatened and scared the powerful
northern teams: it ended in the third position, and between the new number nine
and Diego conquered 21 goals. Juventus, who that year resulted the winner of the
Scudetto trophy, trembled...
The final explosion occurred in the third season, in 1986/87. After being made
an ambassador by UNICEF, Maradona leads Argentina to victory in the 1986 World
Cup in Mexico, beating West Germany 3-2 in the final, but not before scoring one
of the most talked about 'goals' in the history of the game: the famous 'Hand of
God' goal against England( He scored the goal with his hand , but the referee
did not notice ; After the match a journalist interviewed him and he just said
that was the hand of god which scored the goal).
But no one can argue with the sheer brilliance that followed it. If his first
goal was questionable, his second was the greatest goal ever scored - without
question. After collecting the ball on the halfway line, Maradona then proceeded
to dance around the entire England team, before slotting the ball past England
'keeper Peter Shilton. A moment of magic, from a player with a magical left
foot. A factor rarely considered when talking about this goal is the state of
the playing surface in this match; to say it was uneven is an understatement -
yet Maradona had the ball under perfect control throughout his mazy run towards
the England goal. His dream became reality and he was the World Champion with
the Argentinean A-National team .
With the help of Diego, Napoli won his first Scudetto after a long wait that
lasted for 60 years, leaving the powerful Milan behind, and setting the carnival
in Napoles free. Consecration took place in the San Paolo Stadium, on May 10th,
1987: a tie in the result was enough for it: 1-1. Since that same day, and
having no fear of heresy, the people of Napoles enthroned a new Saint: along
with San Gennaro patron saint of the city, now there was Diego. Or even better,
Napoles, city of extremes, lived joy and frustration with a unique passion in
Maradona’s fourth season, the one of 1987/88. That was probably the best
start of Diego and of the team as a whole in its lifetime. But everything
collapsed in the end, in such a way that no one could believe it. The thing was
that the Napoli started like an unstoppable machine, breaking all sorts of
records and statistics, things that Italians are very fond of, but when the
final goal appeared at hand, the engine broke down. The Ma-Gi-Ca formula,
composed by Maradona, Giordano and Careca, the Brazilian that had just joined
the club, was not enough to avoid disaster: from the last seven matches, Napoli
lost five and ended in a tie in two. The key game that was lost was the one
against Milan, with a result of 3-2, on May 1st, and in the very own San Paolo.
The reputation of an exceptional group was soon darkened. While many of the
players were removed from the team, Maradona- upset by the suspicion- doubled
During his fifth season, in 1988/89, the Napoli demonstrated that its good
performance was not casual. Although it lost the battle against the great Inter,
Napoli went beyond Italian frontiers: with Maradona, they won the first UEFA Cup
in its history, making an extraordinary campaign and defeating the German team
Stuttgart. The game of his final return was played in Germany, on May 17th,
1989. A tie in three awarded Napoli. The championship.
At that point, Diego thought that his time in the club had reached to an end.
Nevertheless, none of the team managers dared to open the door for him to fly
away. That is why he faced his sixth season in Napoli during 1989/90 with great
resentment. It is known that many times this resentment has been
Maradona’s fuel. And this was not precisely the exception. Head to head
with Milan, they made the decisive difference in the end. When everyone talked
about that great Napoli of Maradona, the great Maradona of Napoli answered in
his own way: winning the second scudetto in the history of the club.
Consecration took place once again in San Paolo stadium, after defeating the
Lazio by a score of 1-0, on April 29th, 1990.
From that time on the career of
Diego Maradona had a change...
He led Argentina to the 1990 World Cup final but Argentina lose 1-0 to West
Germany, with Andreas Brehme scoring from the spot late on. Loosing the World
Cup- Italy 90 was like the end of the world for Maradona, he cried inside the
field when everything was over. The people in the stadium did not understand his
sadness and booed him. He said about that, I would have never imagined that
there could be so many people happy with my own sadness! .
Dark days were to
follow this for Maradona, when in 1991, he was proved positive in a dope test,
and is banned from football for 15 months.
Upon completion of his ban in 1992, he refusesd to return to Napoli, and asked
for a transfer - and joined Spanish side Sevilla.
Nevertheless, Diego’s history in Napoli is so great, that still continues
nowadays. And will continue forever.
Sevilla , a new start?
He was suspended, it was like an Italian vendetta that forbid him to play
football for fifteen months. It was too much time for such a talent. He needed
to run, he needed to shout a goal, he needed to be happy.
World Champion with
Argentina, he won everything down in Italy. He had reached the top, heaven. He
was God. He tried to become earthly again. Sevilla was the ideal destiny for
that. The idea was to play and have fun.
The 28th September, 1992 he stepped on a field again. Sevilla welcomed him with
a party. Thirty thousand people expected him at Ramón Sánchez
Pizjuán Stadium. The guest, the partenaire was Bayern Munich, with his
friend Lotthar Matthaus. A free shoot to the crossbeam showed his talent
His debut in the Spanish League he made with Sevilla, losing 2-1 against
Athletic Bilbao. After about a year of Depressions he left Sevilla in October
1993 and joins Newell's old boys in Argentina.
Back to the roots and the end
He leaves Sevilla in October 1993 and joins Newell's old boys in Argentina,
losing 3-1 in his first appearance against Independiente. Later that month he
makes his international comeback, playing in Sydney against Australia in the
playoffs to qualify for the USA 1994-world cup. The match is a 1-1 draw, with
the Argentine goal being credited to inspirational play by Maradona. In November
that same year, Argentina - captained by Maradona - win 1-0 against Australia
and qualify for the USA World Cup.
The idea belonged to Gringo Giusti, but anyone could have come up with it. With
his manager suit on, this Diego’s former national team-mate was in the
stadium watching a Newell’s match. The game was boring and not at all
transcendental, when he looked at Tota Rodriguez and said: "This club needs an
effective strike and I know the only person capable of doing it." That same
person was, of course, football’s very own surname: Maradona. That seemed
to be the best destiny. A city that breaths and lives for football was waiting
for him. Everyone in Rosario was following his steps, even the fans of Rosario
Central, Newell’s archrival, forgave him for playing in that team.
"Let’s save Maradona, leprosy can heal", they would say
Enthusiastic as a beginner, he began one of the most strict
diets in his life. He lost 12 kilograms, thanks to a Chinese man whose name is
very hard to remember: Liu Guo Cheng.
On Monday September 13th, 1993,
Independence Park burst with life. Anxiety was everywhere. It was an
Thirty thousand people were about to witness a miracle. Maradona dressed in red
and black. His small body appeared in the field, and he felt that he could not
coordinate his movements. He received an incredible ovation that encouraged him
to shyly raise up his arms. A ball slid towards him, inviting him to do with it
what no one else could imitate. Not even that made him react. His team-mates
approached him with great admiration and threw him up high in the sky. His smile
was everlasting, like that time, nearly a decade ago in the San Paolo. People
had gone just to see him juggling with the ball.
Indio Solari gave him
all the comforts he needed. Eight years, ten months and eight days had passed
for his return to Argentina to play for an Argentine team. That took place on
October 10th, 1993 at Independiente’s Stadium, the very same place where
he had watched his first matches and had been delighted with players such as
Bochini and Bertoni.
He showed his enthusiasm and quality in some of his
trade marked plays. No one will forget that marvelous kick that the goalkeeper
Islas saved miraculously. That one won’t be his last.
Even when his
time in the club was very short and that the story seemed to be unfinished, not
a single Newell’s fan could ever regret having him amongst them, even
though it was for just five games.
In 1994, when after playing well in two of Argentina's World Cup matches -
scoring a great goal against Greece in one of them - he receives a ban for using
ephedrine, a substance not allowed by FIFA. In October 1994 he takes up his
first coaching job with Deportivo Mandiyú of Corrientes, resigning just
two months later.
In May 1995 he takes up his second coaching position, this time with Racing -
resigning four months later!! Obviously not content with sitting on the
sidelines, he comes back to play for Boca Juniors, with the fans of Boca
preparing a special party for him - complete with firework display - which was
held in the stadium of the "Bombonera". He continues to play for Boca until
August 1997, when he started the 1997/98 season in great shape, but was once
again found to be positive after yet another dope test, but there are suspicions
of a plot against him.
In October 1997 he plays his last match for Boca, winning 1-2 away against River
Plate. Then later that month he decides to retire from football on the day of
his 37th birthday. In 1998 he does not play in the World Cup, but travels to
France to commentate on the match for an Argentine TV channel. In November 1998
he goes back to Italy after more than 7 years. Then in 1999 he agrees to a movie
about his life and takes part in the Italian movie "Tifosi". Also in 1999, he
received an award from the Argentine Football Association naming him 'Best
sportsman of the century in Argentina'; his goal against England was chosen as
the best goal ever in the history of football, and the following year he was
named as: 'FIFA best footballer of the century' at a gala ceremony in Rome,
after a worldwide poll on the internet.
In May 2000, Maradona was released from a Cuban hospital after undergoing
treatment for heart complications, as a result of drug and alcohol abuse. This
highlighted the sad fact, which as is usually the case, where there is genius,
there is always a flaw - and Diego Armando Maradona was no different.
Fortunately for him, he just happened to be one of the greatest players of all
time. This website is all about footballing talent, and Maradona had it in
abundance. If you forget about his flaws, and concentrate on what this man did
on the pitch, you are left with the one redeeming quality that set him apart
from most of his peers - GENIUS.
Usally I hate reading , but this book was a book I really enjoyed because
of the fact that it is written about soccer . It shows very well how Maradona
lived and what he felt and I can absolutely recommend that book . At certain
times it was difficult to read but all in all it was very good to understand .
About Diego Maradona , I have to say that his life was like a roller coaster
ride but what is clear is that his addiction is that of football. In a country
like Argentina a poor kid who made it from the slums is more representative than
the president as he put it. His originating from the slums was what shaped his
life and aspirations and his main criticism has always been that many famous
footballers did not speak enough for or represented the poor. In fact many of
them like him had risen from the slums. Many hope that he recovers so that the
world does not miss its greatest footballer. For me
he is one of the best !!!