6 of the Best Moments of Diego Maradona’s Career

Diego Maradona is Number 1 in 90min’s Top 50 Greatest Players of All Time Series

It just had to be Diego Maradona at the top of this list. 

The Argentine was a unique talent who spent years mystifying defenders with his quick feet and outrageous dribbling, and to this day we have only seen a few players who have come close to matching his legacy.

You could probably list 1,000 of his greatest moments, but here are six which really stand out from the rest.

His Famous Nutmeg on His Debut

Maradona was just 15 years and 355 days old when he made his professional debut for Argentinos Juniors in 1976 – setting the record for the youngest player in Argentinian history – and he wasted little time making a name for himself.

Having been told by coach Juan Carlos Montes to ‘go out and nutmeg someone’, Maradona did exactly that. He slid the ball through defender Juan Cabrera’s legs with terrifying ease, pulling off a move which is still talked about in Argentina to this day.

It told you everything you needed to know about Maradona. He was better than you and he was going to make sure you knew it.?

Earning a Standing Ovation at the Bernabéu

Maradona’s spell with ?Barcelona often gets swept under the rug. Sure, it wasn’t as amazing as the rest of his career, but he still managed to become the first man to receive a standing ovation from ?Real Madrid fans at the Santiago Bernabéu.

In June 1983, Maradona scored the most Maradona goal you’re ever likely to see. Not only did he dribble the ball past the Real goalkeeper, but he then sat a retreating defender down on the turf for no reason whatsoever before tapping the ball into an empty net.

It was the defining moment of the game for Maradona, who left the field to a ludicrously rare standing ovation from Real fans – something they would not do until 22 years later with Ronaldinho. They didn’t want to, but Real recognised they were witnessing something special.

Scoring the Goal of the Century

In the quarter-final of the 1986 World Cup, Maradona bagged both of Argentina’s goals in a 2-1 win over England. Both those strikes would make the headlines, but for hugely differing reasons.

His second, which later became known as the ‘Goal of the Century’, saw Maradona pick the ball up in his own half, weave past the entire population of England (including goalkeeper Peter Shilton) before firing into an empty net. He was on a completely different level to the rest of the competition.

That goal came four minutes after a certain ‘header’ which sent shockwaves around the world. Yes, he may have used his hand, but it spoke volumes of his confidence that he even felt he could get away with it.

1986 World Cup Victory

Diego Maradona

It was an eventful tournament for Maradona. Not only had he already proven he was the best in the world, but he backed up his case even more by leading Argentina to World Cup glory. ?Lionel Messi could never.

Truthfully, it was a frustrating game for Maradona, who had Lothar Matthäus stuck to him for the whole 90 minutes. However, he needed just a second to make the difference, finding some space and executing a perfect pass to create Argentina’s late third in a 3-2 win over West Germany.

He was awarded the Golden Ball as a reward for being the best player at the tournament, and nobody had any complaints. He was now an undisputed legend.

Winning the Double With Napoli

In the 1980s in Italy, it was all about ?Juventus and ?AC Milan. No other team came close, but that was until Maradona took his talents to ?Napoli.

Fresh off the back of that World Cup triumph, Maradona led the Partenopei to an incredible league and cup double in 1987, including a stunning 15-game winning streak which saw the Argentine tear apart defence after defence.

Napoli fans held funerals for their rival clubs, announcing the dawn of a new era by painting murals of Maradona all over the city. His time was now.

Dominating AC Milan to Win Another Scudetto

The two Milan sides had regained control of Italian football in the late 80s, but Maradona wasn’t having it. He made sure the world knew who was the dominant force when his Napoli side met AC Milan in October 1989.

Maradona set up the first with a perfect cross, before a great free kick created the second, but it was his goal which stole the show. He raced through on goal, left the goalkeeper on his backside and chipped the ball perfectly into the net to seal a huge 3-0 win.

He went on to bag a brace in a 3-1 win over Juventus late in the season which effectively sealed Napoli’s second league title, and they wouldn’t have done it without Maradona.

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90min’s ‘Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time’ can be found here.

Number 50: Luka Modric 

Number 49: John Charles

Number 48: Hugo Sanchez

Number 47: Jairzinho

Number 46: Omar Sivori

Number 45: Paolo Rossi

Number 44: Paul Breitner

Number 43: George Weah

Number 42: Kaka

Number 41: Lev Yashin

Number 40: Gunnar Nordahl

Number 39: Kevin Keegan

Number 38: Hristo Stoichkov

Number 37: Gianluigi Buffon

Number 36: Johan Neeskens

Number 35: Xavi Hernandez

Number 34: Luis Suarez

Number 33: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

Number 32: Andres Iniesta

Number 31: Rivelino

Number 30: Bobby Moore

Number 29: Socrates

Number 28: Sandor Kocsis

Number 27: Lothar Matthaus

Number 26: Ronaldinho

Number 25: Ruud Gullit

Number 24: Bobby Charlton

Number 23: Giuseppe Meazza

Number 22: Raymond Kopa

Number 21: Romario

Number 20: Eusebio

Number 19: Marco van Basten

Number 18: George Best

Number 17: Zico

Number 16: Franco Baresi

Number 15: Cristiano Ronaldo

Number 14: Ferenc Puskas

Number 13: Paolo Maldini

Number 12: Gerd Müller

Number 11: Mané Garrincha

Number 10: Alfredo Di Stefano

Number 9: Roberto Baggio

Number 8: Michel Platini

Number 7: Ronaldo

Number 6: Zinedine Zidane

Number 5: Johan Cruyff

Number 4: Franz Beckenbauer

Number 3: Lionel Messi

Number 2: Pele


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