The God of soccer is no more!

Diego Maradona, the Argentine soccer great who was among the best players ever passed away on Wednesday. Famed for the 'Hand of God' goal, Maradona captivated fans over a two-decade career with a bewitching style of play that was all his own.

West Bengal in general, and Kolkata in particular, is known to be the hotbed of Indian football, with the country's most die-hard football fans representing their city with great pride and fervour. Apart from the fanatical following enjoyed by arch-rivals East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, the city of Kolkata lives and breathes football, and teams across the world are supported fervently.
Born October 30, 1960, Diego Armando Maradona’s preternatural talent was noticed when he was just eight on the hardpan fields of Villa Fiorito, a Buenos Aires slum. Trainer Francisco Cornejo was first to spot Maradona’s potential, signing him for Argentinos Juniors’s youth team, which he led to a 136-game unbeaten run.
Maradona made his debut in the country’s top tier in 1976, 10 days before turning 16, and was the league’s leading scorer for three consecutive seasons from 1978. But because he was so young, Cesar Luis Menotti, the Argentine coach at the time, left Maradona off the 1978 World Cup roster. In 1981 he moved to giants Boca Juniors, helping them to win the league championship.
Argentina's "golden boy's" scoring prowess and flair in slaloming past opponents vaulted him into the hall of soccer fame, but he struggled to cope with the adulation and his battles with addiction became regular global news.
After retiring, Maradona developed heart problems caused by cocaine addiction, and he endured wild weight and fitness swings that seemed to reflect his do-or-die attitudes to both soccer and life.  Maradona is best remembered for the two goals that dumped England out of the 1986 World Cup. The quarterfinal in Mexico City was eagerly anticipated, coming just four years after the Falklands War between the U.K. and Argentina. Maradona made sure it was a game few would forget.
While that goal has become one of the most infamous in soccer history, Maradona’s second in the game was voted the best of the 20th century in 2002 vote held by FIFA, the sport’s ruling body.

- Prabhakar Purandare

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