Hand of God ‘with my right’ – Maradona’s dream 60th birthday gift

Argentina soccer legend Diego Armando Maradona turns 60 on Friday reveals he has a dream present to mark his 60th birthday – “to score another goal against England, this time with my right hand”. He is currently in self-isolation after a bodyguard tested positive for Covid-19. Maradona, who has a history of drug and alcohol abuse and poor health, is considered at high risk of coronavirus complications should he be infected. He has suffered two heart attacks in the past and contracted hepatitis. Born in a poor Buenos Aires neighborhood on Oct. 30, 1960, Maradona quickly marked himself out as a special talent.

Since then, this charismatic and contradictory man has fallen many times only to rise again from the abyss, and always in his unique and inimitable way. Having made his name helping Boca win the Argentine title, he earned a move to Catalan giants Barcelona at just 21. At 25 he dragged Argentina to World Cup glory at Mexico in 1986. In the quarterfinal against England, first scoring a goal with his hand – which he later dubbed the “Hand of God” – and then embarked on a mazy run, bamboozling the England defense to score one of the greatest goals in World Cup history. Back in his homeland, he was idolized like a god, to the point that a group of fans created the Church of Maradona in devotion to him.

Maradona broke down in floods of tears in 1990 after he failed to inspire an ill-disciplined Argentina to retain the World Cup, losing 1-0 to West Germany in the final. The next year his Napoli career ended in disgrace after he was handed a 15-month ban for using cocaine – something he had been rumored to have done since his Barcelona days. The 1994 World Cup in the United States was supposed to be something of a resurrection for Maradona, but instead, he was sent home in disgrace after failing another dope test.
He had scored 346 goals in 679 matches over a 21-year career. As a coach, he never enjoyed the same success, and certainly did not have the same flair. His coaching career has been regularly interrupted by bouts of ill-health, mostly self-inflicted.

In 2001, he suffered his first heart attack while on holiday. In 2004, weighing well over 100 kilograms (220 pounds) despite standing only 1.65-meters (5ft 5in) tall, he suffered another that almost killed him. It sparked a radical decision to undergo gastric bypass surgery to lose 50 kilograms. It was not the end of his troubles as alcohol abuse saw him taken to the hospital twice in 2007 suffering from hepatitis, after which he was treated in a psychiatric institution.For 25 years he insisted he had only two daughters, Dalma and Giannina, born in 1987 and 1988 to Claudia Villafane, his childhood sweetheart who was his wife for 24 years. Since their divorce, Maradona has admitted to fathering at least five additional children in Italy, Cuba and Argentina through extra-marital affairs. He also had a child, Diego Fernando, in 2013 with his now ex-girlfriend Veronica Ojeda.