The death of Argentinian soccer legend Diego Maradona has shocked the whole world.
But the fact that he died at the age of 60 due to cardiac arrest, may not surprise many who knew of his long-time problem of alcoholism and drug abuse.
According to reports, Maradona began taking cocaine in the mid-1980s – during the height of his playing days, going on to develop an addiction to drugs and alcohol over the next two decades.
His drug use began in 1982 and reportedly grew worse in 1984 when he moved to Napoli and had connections with the Comorra.
In 2014, Maradona said of his drug use: ‘I gave my opponents a big advantage. Do you know the player I could have been if I hadn’t taken drugs?’
His first real punishment came in 1991 when he was banned for 15 months by Napoli after testing positive for cocaine. Later in the same year he was arrested in Buenos Aires for possessing half a kilo of cocaine, and was given a 14-month suspended sentence.
In 1994, Maradona was back in the fold with the Argentina national team, making headlines around the world for a now-famous screaming celebration into the camera lens after a goal against Greece. His tournament was to come to an early end, though, after he was expelled days later for testing positive for five variants of ephedrine, a banned substance. He was banned for 15 months, ending his international career.
In 1995, he moved to Boca Juniors but two years later he failed a drugs test for the third time in six years, putting an end to his playing career. Officially, a ‘prohibited substance’ is all that has been revealed about that test, but Boca president Mauricio Macri has said in interviews that cocaine was found in a urine sample.
In 1996, Maradona said publicly: ‘I was, am and always will be a drug addict.’
In 2000, the footballing legend suffered an overdose, and in 2004 he had a heart attack. A year later, he was forced to have gastric bypass surgery, and in 2007 he was back in hospital again, this time suffering hepatitis.
It is then understood he stopped taking drugs, telling a journalist in 2017 that he hadn’t taken drugs for 13 years and was feeling ‘great’.
He has been drinking alcohol since 2004, though, hitting the headlines at the 2018 World Cup for his bizarre antics at a number of Argentina games. A video emerged of him drinking tequila on a plane, and he claimed he ‘drank all the wine’ ahead of their win over Nigeria.