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Diego Maradona

A Star In Europe

Barcelona's professional soccer team spent $7.7 million to buy out Maradona's contract, a record at the time, and was rewarded richly for it; he quickly led the team to the Spanish League title. Maradona emerged as a speedy, slippery player, able to miraculously evade opposing players and hold the ball for yards as he ran down the field. Once near the goal, he possessed an uncanny ability to fake out the goaltender and land the ball in the net. He often scored nearly a dozen goals per season, and quickly became the object of much venom from other players. On the field, they kicked at his ankles or knees, hoping to injure him, and succeeded once in 1983 by dislocating his ankle.

Maradona's off-the-pitch antics around Barcelona began to capture press attention as well. He was known for leading his friends on long, carousing evenings, and the behavior continued when a failing Italian team, Napoli, signed him in 1984 to a $12 million, nine-year contract. Not surprisingly, the team emerged as a powerhouse in the Italian league, and won two championships with him as their star player. Yet Maradona's allegiance remained with Argentina for the World Cup contests, and in 1986, at the height of his career, he scored what would come to be known as the "hand of God" goal in the annals of soccer. Argentina met England in the quarterfinals, and national tensions still ran high between the two countries over the Falklands, a group of islands off Argentina's eastern coast. In 1982, a military junta in power in Buenos Aires moved to retake the islands, but Britain sent a flotilla of ships and reasserted its claim to one of its last colonial outposts.

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Famous Sports StarsSoccerDiego Maradona Biography - A Star In Europe, Claimed Divine Intervention, Chronology, Fewer Goals, More Acrimony, Contact Information - SELECTED WRITINGS BY MARADONA: