The Rise and Fall of Football Legend: Diego Maradona

The Rise and Fall of Football Legend: Diego Maradona

When you think of silky and skillful dribbling, the first name that pops up is Maradona’s. Diego Armando Maradona could escape tight spaces and had the ability and intelligence to create goal-scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates. Too bad for punters in the past who didn’t have much chance to bet on big names on Netbet, the best online betting platform with live in-play odds on major sports. Join now to claim free bets offered to new customers and promotions to existing members.

He was at his time and still regarded as one of the best footballers in history. He was born on 30th October in 1960 as the fifth child in a family of eight in a close-knit family of Diego Sr. and Dona Tota. Maradona’s passion for soccer was ignited when he was gifted a soccer ball at the tender age of 3. At ten years old, Maradona was brought into Argentinos Juniors’ youth club known as Los Cebollitas. He showcased his class as the club cruised past other teams having an undefeated streak of 136 games. He was soon brought into the senior team days before his 16th birthday.

With his playing style, Maradona mostly played as an attacking midfielder and sometimes as a second striker. He was completely dominant and led various clubs to glory in Argentina, Spain, and Italy. Maradona’s peak performance came in 1986 when Argentina won the world cup. The most memorable match perhaps was the quarter-final in which he scored two goals and an obliviously illegal one, also known as “the hand of God.” However, the second goal was a marvel where Maradona out skilled defenders using his quick feet to dribble away and score. In total, Diego Maradona made 91 international appearances for Argentina and played in four world cups, scoring an impressive 34 goals in the process.

Maradona quickly became the hero of many Argentines of the lower class and also in Southern Italy, where he played for Napoli, leading them victories over some of the richest clubs. In his 21-year career, Maradona made 490 club appearances scoring 259 goals, placing him among the best players in the history of soccer.

Despite his impressive soccer technique and ability, Maradona had a shortcoming and quickly became a controversial figure in football. During his career in the 1980s in Spain, he became addicted to cocaine and was even suspended for 15 months after testing positive for cocaine in 1991. Three years later, Maradona suffered another painful suspension after testing positive for an illegal substance, Ephedrine, during the world cup. Maradona returned home announcing his retirement in 1997, a day before his birthday. Numerous injuries and tough living weakened his physical abilities and skills.

What goes around always comes back around. Maradona’s youthful living finally caught up with him in his retirement. In 2000 and 2004, he was hospitalised for heart problems, the latter being so bad that he required the assistance of a respirator to breathe normally. Worse still, he underwent gastric bypass surgery the following year.

In an event marked by controversy, FIFA organized an internet poll named Maradona as the best player of the 20th century. However, a special panel was organised to guarantee that Pele would be named instead of Maradona. Things got ugly when Maradona rejected to share it with Pele, the Brazilian legend.

Maradona was brought in to coach the star-parked Argentine national team in 2008. With Messi at his prime, things looked promising for Argentina; however, things never made out as Argentina was threshed 4-0 by Germany in a one-sided quarter-final, and Argentina showed no interest in renewing Maradona’s contract. Al Wasl, an Arabian team, also hired Maradona but unfortunately was fired after the team struggled to get results. He got opportunities to work for the various clubs before joining Dorados de Sinaloa, a Mexican club, in 2018.

However, the numerous disappointments undergone by Maradona did not deter his Argentine fans from praising him, and he is still seen as one of the best players the country has produced. A boy from humble beginnings who used his talent to rise to fame at an international level.

On 25th November 2020, Maradona passed away from a heart attack at his home in Argentina. Maradona, who was recovering from an emergency brain surgery, passed away at the age of 60.

A brief History of Hendrik Johannes Cruyff

A brief History of Hendrik Johannes Cruyff

Hendrik Johannes Cruyff, commonly known as Johan Cruyff, was born on the 25th of April in 1947. Cruyff, born in Amsterdam, Netherlands, is better known for attacking intelligence and imaginative playmaking. This contributed to his success and the legendary story behind him. Today, you can find the likes of Mbappe and Rooney on NetBet with high odds against them scoring.

Johan Cruyff began his football career in AFC Ajax, where he played at the development stage in the youth squad. Ajax noticed his abilities, and he was moved to the first team in 1964, where he immediately became a regular in the starting eleven. It was also at this time that the famous Rinus Michels also joined the Ajax team.

The arrival of Rinus Michels at Ajax introduced total football, a revolutionary playing strategy at the time. The principles of Michels on Total football meant that players could be flexible and rotate positions throughout the game allowing the team to make fluid and decisive passes. At the time, nobody embodied this playing style better than Johan Cruyff. Naturally a center forward, Cruyff would constantly change positions throughout the game jumping from role to role whenever needed. This style of players completely outplayed teams, and hence Total football was a groundbreaking success.

In his nine seasons at Ajax, Cruyff won six Eredivisie titles, four KNVB Cups, and three European Cups, scoring 190 goals in his 240 games and winning the Ballon D’or twice in 1971 and 1973. New opportunities came calling at the start of the 1973/74 season, and Cruyff joined Barcelona at a record-breaking transfer price of $2 million (£1,454,000) and was reunited with Rinus Michels once again. It did not take long for the price tag to be justified as just in his first season at Barcelona, the club won its first LaLiga title since 1960, and in the process shocking their fierce rivals Real Madrid with an emphatic 5-0 victory. Cruyff was again nominated and won the Ballon D’or for the third time in his career. The union between Rinus and Cruyff was seen as heaven-made.

In 1974 West Germany held the world cup competition, which went down as Cruyff last and the most decisive. Most teams at the time used traditional playing styles of fixed, immobile player position and with Rinus Michels total football playing style and his main talents Cruyff, Neeskens, and Krol, Netherlands cruised past all the teams that came up against them to the final where they faced the hosts West Germany earning the team the nickname “Clockwork Orange.” The nickname was inspired by their orange jerseys and a novel of the same name. As expected, the Netherlands took an early lead in the match. However, instead of concentrating on scoring goals and putting the game out of reach, the Netherlands embarked on a show-off, a game that made the hosts pull out a stunning comeback and won the match 2-1. Johan Cruyff still won the golden ball, also a Most valuable player, for his exceptional performance in the competition.

From 1978 after leaving Barcelona, Cruyff decided to head to America, where he played for the Los Angeles Aztecs and the Washington Diplomats in his two seasons in the United States. Cruyff also had an unsuccessful spell at Levante, where he only played ten games due to injuries. This made his return back home. Ajax in 1981, and once again helped them clinch two Eredivisie titles in 1982 and 1983 consecutively. However, Cruyff decided to leave Ajax after the club failed to give him a new contract and joined Ajax’s rivals, Feyenoord. Undoubtedly Cruyff was also successful at Feyenoord, helping them win their first Eredivisie title in ten years. Cruyff decided to end his career at Feyenoord.

Apart from being a legend on the pitch, Cruyff also proved to be a proficient manager, and both clubs where he made his name, Barcelona and Ajax, still employ his philosophies, tactics, and principles. The number of players directly or indirectly influenced by Cruyff’s style of play is infinite, and many would coincide that he was a legend both off and on the pitch. It is also to note that Cruyff’s intelligence was not only limited to the pitch only. He was also a great philosopher and is remembered for his famous quote, “if you play possession, you do not have to defend as there is only one ball.”

Sadly, on the 24th of March 2016, Cruyff passed away at 68 years old after being diagnosed with lung cancer, and the world mourned the man who changed the game for what it is today.

George Best

George Best  George Best, who died in November, 2005, was one of the most naturally gifted players in the history of football. Genuinely two-footed, quick and elusive, he was equally effective on the left or right flank and garnered worldwide acclaim for his technical ability and flair. Indeed, in his heyday in the mid to late Sixties, his celebrity transcended football, so much so that he was dubbed the ‘Fifth Beatle’.

Handsome, stylish and extremely well-paid, by ordinary standards, Best enjoyed a playboy lifestyle, of which he once said, ‘ I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.’ Sadly, though, Best suffered from lifelong alcoholism, which overshadowed his brilliant playing career, led to a controversial liver transplant in 2002 and, ultimately, resulted in his premature death, at the age of 59.

Born in Belfast on May 22, 1946, Best was scouted by Manchester United as a 15-year-old and made his first team debut against West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford on September 14, 1963. Two First Division titles, in 1965 and 1967, and a European Cup, in 1968, followed, but Best did not stay long at the top of the game.

In 1972, beset with problems with alcohol, which led to erratic form and behaviour, not to mention weight gain, Best announced his retirement, more than once, before changing his mind. Nevertheless, he failed to recover his previous level of brilliance and made his final appearance for Manchester United in 3-0 defeat by Queens Park Rangers on January 1, 1974. Still only 27, played for 11 different clubs, including Stockport, Fulham, Hibernian and Bournemouth, without any notabel succcess, before finally retiring in 1983.

George Best – Legendary Dribbling Skills

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