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The Top 10 Greatest Footballers of all time No. 2 – Diego Maradona

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Football has seen many great players over the years, many of which were, and continue, to be household names around the globe. The game has changed drastically, but the talent of the players has not, and many of the players who are commonly regarded as some of the best of all time plied their trade well-before the game turned into the mega-business it now is. Every sport has their all-time legends and contemporary stars, and none more so than football, and comparing players of different generations is an impossible task. 

Here at The Sports Lowdown, we attempt to do just that. In our top 1o countdown, our specialist team of football writers will formulate a list of the greatest players of all time in reverse order, commencing at 8am on Monday and finishing at 6pm that same day. 

Pele? Maradona? Messi? Zidane? Keep a watchful eye on proceedings at The Sports Lowdown to find out who we have picked as our top 10 players of all time, and as usual we would love to hear your views, so any comments would be greatly appreciated!

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Number 2 – Diego Maradona

The legendary Diego Maradona often divides opinion on his place amongst the greatest players the world has ever seen, largely down to the way his career was tainted as he entered the twilight of his time as a player. There is little doubt though that he deserves his place amongst the top 10 players of all time, though controversially you wouldn’t be surprised to see him at number 10 or number 1 on the list.

What we do know about the Argentinian is that for the majority of his career, there was arguably no better footballer on the planet and was the next South American sensation to announce himself onto the world stage, upon the culmination of the end of the great Pele’s career.

Born in 1960, the diminutive striker was nicknamed “El Pibe de Oro” which translated into English means “The Golden Boy” and he started his career at Argentinos Juniors, where from an early age he was clearly seen as a future great.

In a role that was unheard of at the time but more relevant in today’s game, Maradona’s size meant he was more effective in a role just behind the main striker, now universally known as the ‘Number 10’ role. This had no affect on his early ability to score goals as seen by his 116 goals in 166 appearances at Juniors.

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This earned him a move to Boca Juniors for just one season where again he hit the goal trail scoring 28 in 40 appearances before the bright lights of Europe came calling. Maradona’s goals, whilst a mainstay of his early career indeed, wasn’t his mantra that he would become known for, as it was his sublime touch and ability to run with the ball that meant he had the all round package, allied with his low centre of gravity, saw him capture the eye of Barcelona.

By the time of his move to Barcelona, he was already an Argentine international footballer and it was his early goalscoring form, particularly in 1980 that saw him attract the attention of many teams in Europe. His success at Barcelona continued along the same line as other clubs as he scored 38 goals in 58 appearances.

This earned him a move to Serie A giants Napoli where he would arguably have his greatest success which also transformed his career for his country. He would go onto win two Seria A titles, inspiring the team to their greatest period in their history and he was adored by the fans over a seven year spell.

If one match encapsulated the nature of Maradona’s character, then the 1986 World Cup Quarter-finals was it. In the space of five second half minutes, Maradona went from being the villain of the match, and indeed the tournament, to a genius, whom one can only marvel at.

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First came what is now known as the ‘Hand of God’ goal which saw Maradona palm the ball into the back of the net and would get away with, before just minutes later he scored one of the greatest goals ever seen as he picked the ball up in his own half, dribbled past half of the England team and go on to slot the ball past Peter Shilton in the England goal to seal his side’s passage into the semi-finals. The goal would later be voted the Greatest World Cup Goal as well as Goal of the Century in a FIFA poll years later. This match highlighted immaculately Maradona as a player: one one hand an exceptionally gifted player, capable of such phenomenal things on a football pitch; but on the other-hand a player with a darker side to his psyche.

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Maradona would go onto inspire his country to World Cup glory in 1986, scoring two more goals in the semi-final before playing the key pass in a 3-2 win over West Germany in the final to seal victory for Argentina. The 1986 World Cup saw Maradona at his peak though there was still more to come from the diminutive number 10 sensation.

By the time the 1990 World Cup rolled around, Maradona was still an influential member of the Argentina team as they looked to retain their trophy and despite playing through injury problems, Maradona again inspired his team to reach the final of the World Cup in a repeat of the 1986 final, though his influence in Italy was not solitary with the class of Claudio Caniggia and Jorge Burruchaga also shining for the blue and white stripes. This time the result didn’t go their way as Germany avenged defeat to win the 1990 World Cup.

The injuries were beginning to mount up for Maradona and his influence as he entered the twilight of his career was seemingly on the wane. Of course he was not helped by off the field problems including his apparent use of drugs which would later cost him his career. Fines and suspensions for missing games were dished out as well and it seemed that he would not play for his country again, playing no matches in 1991 or 1992 as he battled his addiction.

After seven years at Napoli, Maradona found himself banned for 15 months for failing a drugs test and he left Italy in disgrace in 1992 to move to Sevilla in Spain despite interest from much more prominent clubs in Europe at the time. His goal-scoring record was not quite what it had been at other clubs coring just five in a single season in Spain before Maradona headed back home to join Newell’s Old Boys.

There was brief respite for Maradona as he regained his place in the Argentina squad in 1993 and would look to go onto compete at the 1994 World Cup in the USA, his fourth World Cup in total. Early games saw glimpses of the old Maradona, who scored his final goal for his country against Greece.

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Just two games into the 1994 tournament the footballing world was shocked as Maradona was sent home in disgrace after failing a drugs test. To this day, Maradona asserts his innocence, saying it was down to a contaminated drink he took but there would be no comeback this time as Maradona’s international career was over with the one they dubbed “El Pibe de Oro” featuring 91 times and scoring 34 goals for his country.

Today Maradona splits fans on his place in the greatest World Cup players of all time but there are few in doubt of his place amongst the world best. Where fans across the world, put the special number 10 from Argentina is a cause for debate but what can be said about Maradona is that he produced some of the greatest moments in football and he will forever be talked about.

What people said of Maradona

“Diego was capable of things no one else could match. The things I could do with a football, he could do with an orange.” – Michel Platini – France 

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.” – Lionel Messi – Argentina

“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.” – Gary Lineker – England


And for that, he will forever be hailed as one of the true greats of the sport.


Thank you for reading this article: I hope it has been an informative and enjoyable read, and any comments would be greatly appreciated.


Barcelona Diego Maradona football Greatest Napoli Newell's Old Boys Sevilla Top 10

About Andy Moore

Andy is Chief Editor of The Sports Lowdown and a sports journalist by profession having written for both print publications such as The Sun, The Rugby Paper as well as various online digital sites such as The Aviva Premiership, The Women's Super League plus many many more.

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