Did you Know?
On 20 October 1976, Maradona made his professional debut for Argentinos Juniors, 10 days before his 16th birthday. He entered to the pitch wearing the number 16 jersey, and after the game stated, “That day I felt I had held the sky in my hands.” Maradona scored his first goal in the Primera División against Marplatense team San Lorenzo on 14 November 1976, two weeks after turning 16. Maradona spent five years at Argentinos Juniors, from 1976 to 1981, scoring 115 goals in 167 appearances before his US$ 4 million transfer to Boca Juniors. Maradona received offers to join other clubs, including River Plate who offered to make him the club’s best paid player. Nevertheless, Maradona expressed his will to be transferred to Boca Juniors, the team he always wanted to play for.
“Even if I played for a million years, I’d never come close to Maradona. Not that I’d want to anyway. He’s the greatest there’s ever been” Leo Messi
Did you Know?
Maradona was famous for his cunning personality. Inherent within his nickname “El Pibe de Oro” (“Golden Boy”) is a sense of mischief, with “pibe” being an anti-establishment rogue, street smart and full of guile. Some critics view his controversial “Hand of God” goal at the 1986 World Cup as a clever maneuver, with one of the opposition players, Glenn Hoddle, admitting that Maradona had disguised it by flicking his head at the same time as palming the ball. The goal itself has been viewed as an embodiment of the Buenos Aires shanty town Maradona was brought up in and its concept of viveza criolla — “native cunning”. While critical of the illegitimate first goal, England striker Gary Lineker conceded, “When Diego scored that second goal against us, I felt like applauding. I’d never felt like that before, but it’s true… and not just because it was such an important game. It was impossible to score such a beautiful goal. He’s the greatest player of all time, by a long way. A genuine phenomenon.” Maradona used his hand in the 1990 World Cup, again without punishment, and this time on his own goal line, to prevent the Soviet Union from scoring. A number of publications have referred to Maradona as the Artful Dodger, the urchin pickpocket from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. Maradona was dominantly left-footed, often using his left foot even when the ball was positioned more suitably for a right-footed connection. His first goal against Belgium in the 1986 World Cup semi-final is a worthy indicator of such; he had run into the inside right channel to receive a pass but let the ball travel across to his left foot, requiring more technical ability. During his run past several England players in the previous round for the “Goal of the Century” he did not use his right foot once, despite spending the whole movement on the right-hand side of the pitch. In the 1990 World Cup second round tie against Brazil, he did use his right foot to set up the winning goal for Claudio Caniggia due to two Brazilian markers forcing him into a position that made use of his left foot less practical.