By Chux Odoh
Diego Armando Maradona, the Argentine football legend and world cup winner has been no stranger to controversy during and after his illustrious playing career.
The Argentine star apart from his glorious football career which makes him one of the greatest players of the sport and saw him enjoy spells are FC Barcelona and Napoli and career which saw him lift the World cup with Argentina in 1986 in Mexico where he scored the famous ‘Hand of God’ goal, he is also reputable for his well-documented fight with addiction to cocaine which started in the mid-1980s until 2004.
Maradona allegedly began using during his time at Barcelona in 1983 and became more regular during his time at Napoli later in the decade. Testing positive for cocaine in 1991 caused him to be banned from football for 15 months
Again at the 1994 World Cup in the USA, the player who captained his side to the competition he also failed a drug test for ephedrine causing him a disgraceful exit from the tournament and signalling the end of his international career. He finally retired from professional football in 1997 aged 37.
After his controversial footballing career, Maradona began suffering from series of health problems and became seriously obsessed, climbing to a high of about 130kg. He had to undergo a gastric bypass surgery in 2005 and followed through with a liquid diet to get back to his previous weight.
He was readmitted to hospital in Buenos Aires in 2007 and treated for hepatitis and effects of alcohol abuse. He was initially released only to be readmitted two days later. Also in May that year he claimed on Argentine television he had quit drinking and had not used drugs in two-and-a-half years.
Maradona also had a coaching spell with the La Albiceleste. He was appointed in 2008 and was in charge of the squad at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where they crashed out in the quarterfinals after loosing woefully to Germany by 4 goals to nil. He was subsequently removed from the post in September 2010 amidst controversies claiming that then AFA president Julio Grondona and director of national teams (as well as his former Argentine national team and Sevilla coach) Carlos Bilardo had “lied to”, “betrayed” and effectively sacked him from the role.
Thirty-six years after making his first appearance in the FIFA world cup and eight years after he came as a manager, the 57-year-old continues to be an important figure at the FIFA World Cup tournament. Maradona has been a very passionate spectator at this year’s edition of the tournament but as usual, he has found himself in a couple of controversies already. First, he was pictured smoking in the VIP box even though smoking was prohibited in the Arena. He also was pictured on his making obscene gestures at football fans in the stadium in the game against Nigeria.
His actions have since sparked criticisms with calls for him to be banned from further games in the tournament. Whether that will happen or not is left to the decision of the organisation but one thing is for sure, this isn’t the last we will see or hear from football’s most controversial figure.