Diego Armando Maradona (Lanús, 1960)
Just 36 years ago, the signing of Diego Maradona by FC Barcelona was formalised. Then considered the No.1 football player in the world, he arrived in the city after one of the most complex operations that the Club had ever faced. There were just nine days left until the start of a World Cup where Barcelona would play a leading role, when the signing of ‘El Pelusa’ was secured.
Four years previously, Josep Lluís Nuñez tried to sign Maradona, but then coach Lucien Muller rejected the approach. Two years later, Barça tried again, but the Argentinian Football Association (AFA) didn’t want the player to leave the country until the 1982 World Cup. Finally, a few days before the start of that tournament, Barça closed the deal for 1,200 million pesetas (€7.2 million), a record at that time.
At only 21 years of age, Argentina’s No.10, who was already a world class player, raised expectations when he arrived in Barcelona. His new home, the Camp Nou, played host to the match between Argentina and Belgium (0-1), and La Albiceleste would eventually be eliminated in the second round.
Maradona's adventure at FC Barcelona was full of bad luck. He was part of the Barça first team for two seasons, but suffered hepatitis and a serious ankle injury, problems that didn’t allow the Camp Nou support to enjoy everything expected from a player of such quality. Even so, he won a Copa del Rey, a League title and a Spanish Super Cup during his time at the Club.
Two years after his arrival, he was transferred to Napoli, where he became one of the best players in the history of football. Years later he suffered serious health problems, but his ties with football continued from the bench. In 2008 he became Argentina coach, but a poor 2010 World Cup saw him leave the post.