World soccer great Diego Armando Maradona dead at 60

World soccer great Diego Armando Maradona dead at 60
© Luciano Bisbal/Getty Images

Diego Armando Maradona, the Argentine soccer legend who shocked the world both with his skills on the pitch and his antics elsewhere, died Wednesday at 60.

Maradona, whose retirement was rife with health scares, died of a heart attack after having brain surgery earlier this month.

The controversial superstar was a national hero in his native Argentina, and a folk hero throughout Latin America and parts of Europe.

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Maradona played in four FIFA World Cups, winning one, and played for multiple clubs, first as a boy wonder who debuted at 15 in Argentina, and later in top-flight European teams.

The team where he found most success and praise was Italy's Napoli, a previously second-tier team representing a city beset by Mafia violence. 

At Napoli, Maradona became a local hero and took the team to never-imagined heights, scoring 81 goals in 188 games.

But during his time there, Maradona, who regularly appeared in drug abuse public service announcements in the 1980s, became a heavy cocaine user. 

Maradona's partying and antics continued throughout his professional career as a player and coach, including a two year stint as the Argentine national team manager, where he reached quarter finals in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

His brightest moment came in 1986, when he led Argentina to victory at the FIFA World Cup in Mexico, dispatching England 2-1 in quarter finals.

That quarter final game cemented the legend of Maradona, both for his performance on the field and for his significance for the Latin American country, which four years earlier had been humiliated by the United Kingdom in the 10-week Falklands War.

Maradona scored the two Argentine goals in that game — both are among the most memorialized goals in soccer history.

One, known as "the goal of the century," saw Maradona dribble past seven English players in a stunning show of craftsmanship. 

The other, known as "the hand of God," illustrated the darker side of the five-foot-five-inch Maradona's unrelenting will to win: He fooled the match referees by striking a cross ball into the net with his fist when he couldn't reach it with his head.

He later said the goal was scored "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God".

Maradona earlier this year memorialized that match in an Instagram post, thanking his teammates on the 34th anniversary of the win.

"And although some want to erase me from the history of football, here I am. I was the captain of a team that broke its soul to win. We all played, we all scored," he wrote.