Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona, one of the game’s most brilliant and controversial players, has died at age 60.
Earlier this month, Maradona underwent surgery to remove a blood clot on his brain, and then was discharged to a rehabilitation clinic to receive treatment for alcohol addiction.
The Argentina Football Association confirmed his death, writing that it “expresses its deepest pain for the passing of our legend, Diego Armando Maradona.”
Maradona, one of eight children, was born on October 30, 1960 and rose from one of South America’s poorest slums to become the dominant soccer talent of his generation and, by nearly all measures, one of the two or three greatest ever to play the game.
He led Argentina to a youth World Cup victory at just 18 years of age and went on to play in four more World Cups, including the 1986 edition in Mexico.
Diego, as he was known to millions of fans worldwide, starred in his country’s championship run during that tournament, notably dispatching England in the quarterfinals with two of the most famous goals in soccer history.
The second, an eye-popping feat of skill that sent him weaving through nearly the entire England lineup before sending the ball home with his trusty left boot, is widely considered the greatest goal ever scored.
But it is the first strike in that match — perhaps more than any other feat in his career — that helped enshrine Maradona in the sport’s firmament.
Jumping high over a taller goalkeeper on a crossing ball before the goalmouth, Maradona raised his left fist and drove the ball home, a violation of the sport’s rules, which prohibit touching the ball with one’s hands.
After the match, which Argentina won 2–1, Maradona was asked by reporters whether he’d handled the ball.
“It was a little bit with the head and a bit with the hand of God.” To this day, the goal, revered in Argentina and despised in England, is known as the Hand of God.
Maradona played professionally in Argentina, Spain, and Italy, netting 312 goals in addition to 91 while wearing his national colors.