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2018 World Cup

Maradona’s turbulent final years, from wild antics at 2018 World Cup, to strange manager stints in Mexico and Argentina

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DIEGO MARADONA died from a cardiac arrest aged 60 after a troubled final few years.

The Argentine will forever be remembered as one of the greatest footballers in history.

AP:Associated Press
The troubled icon will forever be hailed a hero in Argentina where the country is going into three days of mourning[/caption]
Getty - Contributor
Concerns were raised after an appearance at the 2018 World Cup[/caption]
AFP or licensors
The football genius struggled with his health later in life[/caption]

But his turbulent personal life led to a gradual health decline in his latter years.

The football icon died two weeks after surgery on a brain bleed.

But he had long suffered with his health and made several trips to hospital since turning 60 on October 30.

⚠ Read our Diego Maradona death live blog for the latest news & updates

Maradona spent eight days on a ward after he was admitted for an emergency operation for a blood clot on his brain.

His lawyer Matias Morla described it as a ‘miracle’ he was still alive just two weeks ago and labelled the surgery as the ‘most difficult moment of his life’.

Last November, the ‘Hand of God’ superstar was forced to deny he was dying in an extraordinary video address to fans.

The message came after his daughter Gianinna asked fans to ‘pray for him’ and hinted he was being ‘killed from the inside’ with sedatives.

But in a video filmed from his home in Argentina, Maradona said: “I want to tell you that I’m not dying at all, that I sleep peacefully because I’m working.”

The Argentina great responded in a video on his Instagram page, insisting he is "healthy"
The Argentina great responded in a video on his Instagram page, insisting he is “healthy”
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Maradona managed Argentina before spells in charge of lesser known teams across the world[/caption]
Rex Features
Diego Maradona died aged 60[/caption]

“What I do know is that as you get older, people worry more about what you’re going to leave than what you’re doing.”

The former Boca Juniors and Napoli forward had well documented battles with drugs and alcohol during his life.

He also weighed in at more than 20st after he retired from playing and all these issues appeared to catch up with him.

WORLD CUP WORRY

Fans grew concerned in 2018 after Maradona made an appearance at the World Cup in Russia.

Having been seen watching Argentina’s win over Nigeria, the then 57-year-old collapsed.

Images showed a white residue on the glass railing in front of his VIP box leading many to suggest he had been using cocaine.

But Maradona assured journalists after the match he had just over-indulged on wine.

Rex Features
White residue was seen on the glass in front of Maradona at the 2018 World Cup[/caption]
Fans spotted a bag of white powder next to Maradona on his private plane during the 2018 World Cup
Reuters
Maradona smokes a cigar before the start of a Boca Juniors match in Buenos Aires in 2006[/caption]

Two Spanish-language recordings after the game claimed he had suffered a fatal heart attack.

One said an adrenaline injection to his heart had failed to save him and the Argentine squad were yet to be told he had passed away in hospital.

A second WhatsApp recording sent to a mystery man called Mati by someone claiming to be an Argentine journalist, added: “They are only going to be announcing the news tomorrow. It’s a family decision.”

Maradona reacted by offering a four-figure reward to identify the person who tried to fool the world into believing he was dead.

He promised more than £8,000 through his lawyer to anyone who could help him unmask the man responsible for killing him off and forcing him to put out a statement.

MAVERICK MANAGER

A historic playing career saw Maradona star for Argentinos Juniors, Boca, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell’s Old Boys.

And a 2019 documentary titled ‘Maradona’ told the story of his reported involvement with Napoli’s mafia during his time there between 1984 and 1991.

After he hung up the boots, Maradona went into management.

He spent two years as Argentina boss between 2008 and 2010 before a string of spells with lesser known clubs across the world.

When Argentina scraped into the 2010 World Cup, Maradona went on a memorable rant at journalists in the post-match press conference.

From 2011, he managed UAE based Al-Wasl before returning to Buenos Aires in 2013 where he was assistant boss at Deportivo Riestra until 2017.

Rex Features
The charismatic figure (shown here as manager of Al-Wasl) had an eccentric character which also came through when he was a manager [/caption]
Reuters
Maradona took his maverick style into management as seen here at the 2010 World Cup[/caption]

UAE came calling again and Maradona took charge of Fujairah between 2017 and 2018.

And in 2018, he began a noteworthy spell at Mexican side Dorados de Sinaloa.

The second tier outfit are located in the heart of the Sinaloa Cartel territory and his time there was subject of Netflix documentary ‘Maradona in Mexico’.

But he was eventually forced to step down from the role in 2019 because of his health – needing surgery on his knee and shoulder.

During that time, he also gave a bizarre interview in which he seemed unable to talk.

DEATH DENIALS

Having recovered, the 5ft 5in larger than life character returned to his beloved Argentina to take charge of Buenos Aires based Gimnasia de la Plata.

But his health soon became a problem again when last June, he was forced to deny he had incurable Alzheimer’s disease.

He posted a video on his Instagram page insisting he was ‘not dying’ from the irreversible brain disorder and branding the people behind the rumours: “Sons of they know who.”

Speaking out after Argentine newspaper Cronica suggested he was suffering ‘neurological problems’ and the ‘start of Alzheimer’s’, Maradona said: “They’re lying, they’re lying.

AFP or licensors
Maradona had to stand down as Dorados de Sinaloa boss to have knee and shoulder surgery[/caption]
AFP or licensors
And he was managing Buenos Aires side Gimnasia la Plata when he was hospitalised most recently[/caption]
AFP or licensors
Maradona was arrested in Buenos Aires in 1991 for possession of half a kilo of cocaine[/caption]
Rex Features
Fellow great Pele considered Maradona a friend[/caption]

“They speak of Alzheimer’s and they don’t know what it means.

“The word Alzheimer’s is an awful word. People with Alzheimer’s die. I’m not dying.

“These sons of they know what throw it out there to create confusion. I don’t do confusion.”

His lawyer Matias Morla said at the time: “In the light of reports Diego is suffering from the onset of Alzheimer’s I wish to state that none of the medical tests he has undergone show anything of the sort.”

Maradona subsequently underwent knee surgery at a private Buenos Aires clinic and boasted afterwards: “Today I walked again like I did when I was 15.”

Despite his numerous and well documented troubles away from the football pitch, the Argentine will always be remembered as one of the most talented geniuses ever to play the game.

EPA
Maradona will forever be remembered for his larger than life demeanor on and off the field[/caption]
AP:Associated Press
Diego Maradona, one of the greatest footballers of all time has died aged 60[/caption]
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