Maradona was a bold, fast, and utterly unpredictable footballer. He was so adept in attack and juggling the ball easily from one foot to the other, shrugging off countless opponents and often scored with his astounding left foot, his most lethal arsenal.
However, Diego Maradona was a shoddy footballer, nevertheless a perfect celebrity athlete. His faults, inconsistencies, contradictions, and transgression were explicit in his playing days but became even unclouded as he grew older.
Diego Armando Maradona passed away at the age of 60, according to reports in Argentina, November 25th, 2020, few weeks after having a successful surgery for a blood clot in his brain and a month after his 60th birthday on October 30th.
“Me Siento mal” (“I don’t feel well”) was the last word of former Argentina, Napoli legend who suffered a heart attack at his home in the San Andres neighborhood in the town of Tigre on Wednesday before he kicked the bucket, despite progressing well health-wise following his surgery on November 3rd.
It has been 12, 576 days since Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal broke the heart of the English at the 1986 World Cup for ‘La Albiceleste’ in the quarter-finals which made the world portrayed him as a god and a villain.
Every great or bad story in life has a beginning and Maradona’s transgression got off to a flyer in the mid-1980s at the height of his career.
Like a lot of other people, “El Pibe de Oro” (The Golden Kid) began using cocaine which developed into an addiction to both alcohol and smoking.
It was a problem for the Argentine at the peak of his game, which actually ran from 1976-1997 with him leading ‘La Albiceleste’ to World Cup glory in 1986.
El Pibe de Oro’s drug intake began while playing for Barcelona in 1982, and worsen thanks to his mafia lifestyle and connection with Comorra crime boss ‘Carmine Giuliano‘ at Napoli, when he moved to Naples in 1984.
During his two years stint with the Catalan giant, he often time found himself in trouble with the Barcelona authority.
According to the late former Barcelona President Josep Lluis Nunez in an interview revealed that it was a combination of Maradona not living up to the image he believed Barcelona players should project, a drug issue and the promise of more money made him sell “El Pibe de Oro”.
The complaint of police authority to Nunez concerning his drug issue, his cockiness, and refusal to back down from a fight with the entire Athletic Bilbao team saw him clashed with the club’s management, which led him out of the club he could have gone on to become a legend.
However, despite his two years stint at Camp Nou, Maradona did serve the Catalan faithful with a lot of magic moments, even at the club rival ground, he got himself a standing ovation in Bernabeu.
Maradona’s refusal to back down from the brawl he had with the Bilbao team got him a lengthy ban for his violent performance.
Instead of him serving his ban he decided he would rather quit Spanish football having won the Copa Del Rey, Copa de la Liga, and Supercopa de Espana in 1983 than serve out his suspension which facilitated his surprise move to Napoli, where his drug intake worsen.
In 1991, ‘El Pibe de Oro‘ was banned for 15 months by Napoli after he tested positive for drug usage. The same year he was also busted in Argentina for carrying half a kilo of cocaine, which got him a 14-month suspension sentence.
At Maradona’s last major tournament at the USA 1994 World Cup, he was again found culpable to have tested positive with a cocktail of a banned substance linked to keeping his ballooning weight under control.
In 2014, the late legend joked in an interview with the media that “I gave my opponents a big advantage. Do you know the player I could have been if I hadn’t taken drugs?”
Perhaps if he hadn’t taken drugs as he said, he could have been greater, undented, or even had any record of transgression in his entire career.
Like every other player who grew up in an impoverished area, Maradona’s first contact with soccer came at his tender age was when he was given a soccer ball as a gift by his cousin, Beto Zarate. The soccer ball gift that turned Armando ‘Man in Army’ to a god in Argentina came on his 3rd birthday.
Right from his young age, it was evident that ‘El Pibe de Oro‘ has greatness in him. To avoid his ball been stolen young Diego slept with the ball inside his shirt for nearly 6 months.
Maradona’s ball was sometimes seized by his mother who wanted him to study, in other to become a professional accountant. Sadly, it didn’t turn out that way and in no time his mother finally realized football was his calling, passion, dream, and love.
Like a whirlwind, “The Golden Kid” took a liking to football at the young age of 9, at that time he had learned to play football. His first team ‘Little Onions’ was where he began his quest for greatness, and while he was with the team he led them to win 140 straight games.
At age 9, his excellent dribbling, sublime assists, accurate passes, and mind-blowing footwork made Maradona rise up to the rank of a star in a short period. Having wowed the fans with his talent at that age with Little Onions, things changed for him which got him the chance to play for another team ‘Los Cebollitos‘ at age 12.
At 15, Maradona came with a different experience in his quest to play football, he got the opportunity to don the jersey of Argentinos Juniors for his professional debut where he went on to score 116 goals in 166 games then to Boca Junior in 1981.
The pinnacle of his ‘god’ status and career began as a member of the ‘La Albiceleste’ national team, which he led to win the World Cup in Mexico in 1986.
Maradona further announced himself to the world at the tournament, scoring a controversial goal with his hand in the quarter-finals that sent the English home, which he later claimed was a ‘Hand of God’ goal.
Not controversial, but yet a brilliant goal was his second goal in that match which required him to dribbled past an onslaught of defenders, to put the ball at the back of the net for Argentina.
After ‘La Albiceleste’ disappointing in the 1982 World Cup and then with Barcelona, Maradona arrived at Napoli in 1984 having left Barcelona with a brawl and refusal to serve his ban. The diminutive midfielder did go on to become a god winning two Scudetto, a Coppa, a Super Cup, and a UEFA Cup for the Naples faithful.
Among some of his stepping stone en route to Europe was Sevilla, where he was given a chance for redemption after his long time ban for cocaine use ended his time at Naples. Sevilla offered him a second chance, but his stint with the Los Palanganas was brief with eight goals in 29 appearances which culminated in a trip back home to Boca Junior.
Call him a drug addict or serial womanizer, his transgression would never degrade his greatness among those people who worshipped him, the sheer belief and determination to be the best and take his family out of poverty. To many, in their heart, he remains one of the best footballers to ever graced the pitch
In what was a turbulent career for him due to his addiction to drugs, Diego Armando Maradona was fortunate enough to play in four World Cup, scored an impressive 34 goals in 91 international appearances for ‘La Albiceleste’.
The final month of ‘El Pibe de Oro’ was full of complications that culminated in his demise yet he was able to conquer the world with his talent and sheer passion for the game.
Maradona was a flawless emblem of a flawed athlete – a footballer with all the gifts, yet without a clue how to conserve and nourish them. But it is Diego Maradona’s magic with the ball at his feet, not his transgressions, which will live on in the memories of all football enthusiasts.
10 Legendary Jersey Sponsors In Football History
The upsurge of Jersey sponsors during the ’80s and 90s is an explicatory key to the evolution of modern football.
Football history will always give credits to an Uruguayan club team (Penarol), for introducing the concept of jersey sponsorship during the ’50s. However, most European Leagues vehemently opposed the concept of placing a sponsor’s logo on football jerseys and prohibited teams from the ideas other than the team name on their jersey until the late ’70s.
Eintracht Braunschweig and Jagermeister, a foremost German liqueur company unlocked the pathway for jersey’s sponsorship. Guenter Mast, the CEO offered a significant amount of sponsorship deal for 5 years to put Jägermeister’s logo on Eintracht Braunschweig’s jersey.
After the deal was penned, the club requested approval from the German Football Association (DFB) to put Jägermeister’s logo on its jersey. Unfortunately, DFB opposed the concept and only allowed the club’s logo on the jersey.
However, the club (Eintracht Braunschweig) was swept off by the lucrative deal and didn’t want to miss the golden opportunity. Braunschweig changed its official logo to that of Jägermeister, the German federation was shocked but didn’t have the power to overturn such mischief since it’s now the club’s official logo.
Months later, DFB finally approved the sponsor’s logo on the jersey and that pave way for others to see the financial benefits that come along.
But as things changed gradually with the revamped of the Champions League, football clubs began to see how attracting and mouthwatering a shirt sponsorship deal could be for their club in bringing to fore financial profit and enlarging the coast of both parties financially and in term of popularity.
Modern football clubs has undoubtedly been emblazoned by mostly betting firm as their principal sponsors, while before it’s was about beverages firm, airlines, and automobiles companies. It’s all about the money, who cares if it’s unethical or not.
Let’s revisit some of the legendary jersey sponsors in the history of football
- Manchester United – (SHARP, 1982-2000)
Manchester United is no doubt the biggest club in England, and when it comes to commercialization you would always find the Red Devils at the forefront.
Since the high-profile sponsorship deal between the Red Devils and Sharp ended 20 years ago, a lot of water has gone under the bridge. With the era of Vodafone for the 2000-01 season after the Sharp’s long association with the Red Devils came to an end.
Then after the era of Vodafone, then came AIG, AON, and now Chevrolet, though the Red Devils have just sealed a new deal worth £235million after both parties agreed on a huge five-year deal with TeamViewer.
Having mentioned all of the shirt sponsorship the Red Devils had in time past, it’s no doubt that the electronic company Sharp was the club’s longest and legendary serving shirt sponsor.
With lots of unprecedented success stories to have nostalgic feelings about, throughout their partnership under Sir Alex Ferguson and till date no sponsorship deal has ever covered such a glorious era for the Old Trafford side.
- Inter Milan – (PIRELLI, 1995-Present)
Pirelli and the Nerazzurri have no doubt been an inseparable duo since 1995, a sponsorship deal that has spanned over 26 years in the world of football. The Italian tyre manufacturer has been a loyal partner with Internazionale over the years, and it has become a synonymous entity with the Nerazzurri.
As beautiful as both party’s partnership has been working smoothly for two decades and a half, it’s quite unfortunate that the deal value at around £10million per season would come to a conclusion at the end of the 2020-21 season. During the good years, both have enjoyed a very smooth partnership with countless successes such as the Seria A’s Cup titles, and the Champions League.
The Italian Tyre manufacturer isn’t just marked out on this list because of its longevity, it was marked out simply because of its legendary status with Inter and the football world entirely. Pirelli was also legendary because of its aesthetic on the Inter Milan Jersey and the admiration it brings to the fore when fans order for it.
What further marked out Pirelli is the fact that the black and blue shirt stripes with the Pirelli logo boldly printed on it have been donned by legendary football superstars such as O Fenomeno, Ivan Zamorano, Taribo West, Javier Zanetti, Recoba, Ronaldo De Lima, and many more.
Pirelli is no doubt one of the iconic shirt sponsorship in the history of the beautiful game of football.
- Napoli – (Mars, 1988-1991)
Maradona and the entire Napoli team were no doubt the darling of the Partenopei fans in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The great Maradona took the Partenopei club by the scruff of the neck and dragged them to challenging on the homefront which ended with a positive result by winning the Scudetto, and European football became a norm for the fan base of Napoli.
During that period that Napoli was punching above their weight, it’s was the chocolate bar company “Mars” that was boldly printed on the shirt of the Naples side, with the legendary Diego Armando Maradona leading them to every war donning the shirt with the famous number 10 boldly written behind Jersey.
What really marked Mars out and made it one of the legendary jerseys sponsors in Italy then was that it’s the go-to shirt choice for every young football enthusiast across the country. More so it’s was during that period Maradona’s legendary status with the Partenopei took center stage when he singlehandedly won the UEFA Cup and the Scudetto for them.
Sadly for Mars, Maradona’s dominant spell in Italy didn’t last forever which also brought an end to Mars as Napoli’s principal shirt sponsor in 1991.
- Bayern Munich – (OPEL, 1980-2002)
The Bavarian giant and the car company OPEL partnership came to an end when OPEL cited a new advertising direction. During the principal sponsorship of the Bavarian giant shirt, OPEL was one of the most recognizable shirt sponsors plastered on the team shirt of the most successful club in Germany at the time.
In 2002 Die Roten decided to redesign their shirt, while their main sponsor OPEL also decided not to renew its $13.5million a year contract with Bayern Munich has been in partnership with Die Roten since the late 1980s.
OPEL stepped down when Bayern Munich found another new sponsor in 2002, though both parties ain’t on the same page anymore.
However, their time together produced quite an unprecedented success with the club’s great donning the jersey plastered with OPEL in its front.
- Real Madrid – (Teka, 1992-2001)
Los Blanco’s first shirt sponsor was Zanussi, who agreed for the 1982-83, 1983-84, and 1984-85 seasons. Following those seasons of been the principal sponsors, the club was also sponsored by Parmalat, and Otaysa before the long-term deal was signed with Teka in 1992.
In 2001, Los Blancos ended their contract with Teka to signed a new contract with Siemens Mobile in 2002, then with other shirt sponsors which followed since then. However, the era of Teka with Los Blancos did come with lots of nostalgic moments for many Real Madrid faithful that could still relate with that time.
Real Madrid may be enjoying a bigger deal with their current shirt sponsor in Fly Emirates in terms of the financial profit, however, the Teka shirt sponsorship era was no doubt an iconic time for Los Blancos so making this list wasn’t a mistake.
- Parma – (Parmalat, 1998-2000)
Parma and Parmalat are undoubtedly the best sponsorship deal that ever happened to one of the best Italian sides in the ’90s. Great players such as Gianfranco Zola, Hernan Crespo, Gigi Buffon, Sebastian Veron, Lilian Thuram, Cannavaro, all donned the jersey with Parmalat boldly printed on it.
Throughout the 1980s and 90’s the horizon of Parmalat exploded onto the scene, spreading its wings all over the globe. Parmalat went on to become one of the jewels of the Italian commerce industry, and a model for other companies to emulate.
AC Parma and Parmalat era can be said to be one of football legendary jersey partnership because of the self-respect Italians had for them. In 1991 the Tanzi family bought 98 percent share of Parma following the untimely death of then-President Ernesto Ceresini, with one of the Ceresini’s sons holding on to the remaining stake.
During that era, Parma was by no means one of the best sides in Italian football, spent most of their time playing in the Seria C and B. With the arrival of Parmalat owned by the Tanzi family, Parma was bankrolled and they went on to achieved mouthwatering successes together with lots of great players.
- Liverpool – (Carlsberg, 1992-2010)
Danish beer company Carlsberg is probably the best shirt sponsor in the Kop’s history, with the kind of aesthetic feels it comes with when Liverpool’s players don it.
No doubt Carlsberg may have come with plenty of years of mediocrity success wise with the Anfield side, however, one beautiful night that would forever linger in the memories of all Liverpool’s faithful was the miracle of Istanbul in the Champions League, which definitely make Carlsberg one of the iconic shirt sponsorship in football.
During the period in which the partnership of Liverpool and Carlsberg was still existing, the Danish beer company never relent in bringing the relationship of both parties to life through global and local activations and events with their fans across the globe.
Before their iconic partnership came to an end in 2010, Carlsberg’s partnership with the Kop produced a lot of on-field success winning the Champions League in 2005. Two FA Cup’s, four League Cups, and one UEFA Cup in 2001 with great players such as Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler, and Steven Gerrard donning the legendary shirt.
- AC Milan – (OPEL, 1994-2006)
The German automobile manufacturer didn’t only enjoy stints sponsoring Bayern Munich and Paris Saint Germain in the ’90s, their time with the Italian giant was no doubt a period of great dominance of Italian football with a bunch of talented players donning the shirt.
During the 12 year partnership with the German company, the Rossoneri claimed four Scudetto, one Coppa Italia, and two Champions League titles.
Every football enthusiast who saw Milan played then would agree to the fact that those period were no means a time of dominance for the Rossoneri, with fantastic players such as Andriy Shevchenko, Maldini, Nesta, Seedorf, Kaka, and co that tore the Seria A apart with their swashbuckling football style.
It’s funny how Liverpool’s greatest Champions League night came in Carlsberg-clad jersey, then AC Milan’s lowest recede fell on that same night in Istanbul. The most feared collection of superstars in football shed tears into an Opel embroiled jersey, wondering whether the beer effect (Carlsberg) had a toll on them.
Even though Milan and OPEL have gone their separate ways, many football enthusiasts and Milan faithful still can’t forget those dominant eras under Carlo Ancelotti.
READ ALSO: 10 Of The Worst Football Kits Of 2020/21
- PSV Eindhoven – (Phillips, 1981-2016)
Phillips and PSV Eindhoven partnership is undoubtedly one of the unforgettable iconic partnerships in football. The electronic company stops sponsoring the shirt of PSV Eindhoven in 2016 after 30 years of magnificent partnership with a report saying Phillips wants to focus more on medical equipment than consumer electronics.
Although Phillips is still committed to the club as an important club partner of the Dutch side, though not as shirt sponsor but as stadium and other important secondary sponsorship deal with the club.
Been a real football enthusiast who saw the Dutch side in the ’80s and 90s what comes to mind is PSV’s colors that were awesomely complimented by the Philips logo for such a long time, that almost everyone assumed it was part of the jersey itself.
And not forgetting the glorious heydey of the club that played a host of great players such as Philip Cocu, Luc Nilis, R9, and Ruud Van Nistelrooy.
No doubt PSV Eindhoven’s partnership with Phillips definitely brought huge success and recognition to both parties, and also grow on the world stage flexing muscles with some of the biggest clubs/sponsorship rivals in Europe on the biggest of the stage.
- Boca Juniors – (Quilmes, 1995-2001)
The Argentine brewery company was founded in 1988 by the German immigrant Otto Bemberg, both parties came into partnership in 1995 to make sure the biggest club in Argentina had an on-field dominance in Argentine football.
The Quilmes partnership started immediately Nike became La Bombonera side kit sponsor, leading to a wave of fresh kits for the South American most respected club.
The reason why Quilmes makes it into our top list was that during their partnership with Boca Juniors the club enjoyed an on-field successful period. The scribbled font used in printing the name on the shirt goes perfectly well with the famous blue and yellow jersey.
Throughout the partnership of Quilmes and Boca, the shirt was donned by great players like the great Maradona, Juan Roman Riquelme, Carlos Tevez, and co who made the Bombonera side proud.
- Fiorentina & (Nintendo, 1997-1999)
- Newcastle & (Newcastle Brown Ale, 1994-2000)
- Borussia Dortmund & (Die Continentale, 1986-1999)
- Juventus & (Jeep, Since 2012)
Fall From Grace: Bolton Wanderer’s Steep Decline
Bolton Wanderer’s under Sam Allardyce was high-flying, competing in Europe, and were a Premier League mainstay; attractive football wasn’t the trotter’s niche but the team became renowned as a side that was hard to beat.
From that, it turned into dreadful mismanagement and financial nightmare that followed with a lot of questions been asked about their decline.
The Wanderers weren’t exactly a club with a swell bank-account when Sam Allardyce took them to the pinnacle of English football via the playoff triumph against Preston North End in 2001. As great as that sounds, muddling thinking, poor signings, and extravagant wages to players brought them into the unpleasant situation they’ve found themselves.
However, during those rosy and sweet periods, Allardyce was able to cast his net into the transfer pool to bring onboard Fernando Hierro, Ivan Campo, World Cup winner Youri Djorkaeff, former Nigeria midfield maestro Okocha, amongst other top players that ran top teams in England and Europe ragged with their direct style of football.
Since the 1987-88 season, the club’s single-season in the fourth tier, the trotter has never slipped lower than 16th on the table, before they secured instant promotion back to Division Three. When Bolton Wanderers went down as low as playing in the lower division it comes as a huge surprise to many of their fans.
Bolton in 2008 was officially one of the best 50 teams in Europe, after two seasons in the UEFA competitions reaching the last 32 surprisingly in 2005, then the last 16 two years later.
They were ranked 47th in the world according to UEFA’s ranking, while Atletico Madrid one of the finest teams in Europe right now were ranked 67th, Borussia Dortmund 109th, and PSG 66th in the world.
13 years ago, they stunned a Bayern Munich side that housed superstars such Miroslav Klose, Franck Ribery & Lucas Podolski by holding the Bavarian to a 2-2 draw in the UEFA Cup at the Allianz Arena.
Today, with Bolton Wanderers now playing in League Two, a once dreaded team is not close to being what they used to be under Sam Allardyce when they locked horns with some of the best teams in England and Europe.
With their football season now in League Two, their sweet cinderella stories of old when they walked in between the tunnel sharing the same pitch with Bundesliga giant Bayern Munich, to now playing teams like Barrow is a testament to how severe Bolton’s decline has nosedived due to financial mismanagement.
Between 2003-04 and 2006-07, Bolton enjoyed a consecutive top-flight finish, a record of consistency only the big four of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool could boost off.
That said, Bolton looming troubles started when long-serving manager Allardyce departed, stating that he’s going on sabbatical leave.
Surprisingly, shortly after departing Bolton, he was employed as Newcastle’s manager, when asked about dumping Bolton for the Tyneside club he cited a lack of ambition on the part of the Bolton’s board for his departure.
Having sought financial backing in 2007 to make the team more competitive and also push the club towards Champions League qualifications which they failed to bankroll.
The trend of teams who at some point once enjoyed a glorious moment in the topflight, that are now in the lower division won’t be the first and also won’t be the last. Deportivo La Corona once a Spanish Champions touched the whole of Europe with their swashbuckling style before they went down in a way similar to Bolton, same with Portsmouth one time FA Cup winner, and other teams who had gone downward spiral.
On the final day of the 2011-12 season, Bolton’s ordeal began properly, first with the relegation that left many predicted torrid situations ahead of them in the lower division. As predicted, Bolton couldn’t pull the chestnut out of the fire as swift as they would have loved to and they further ran into more problems.
As life in the Championship gets tougher, the Wanderer’s long-standing owner Eddie Davies invested over £180m to rescue the team, but by late 2015 it’s was evident their troubles just started with the club debt closing up to £179.9m while in the bottom of the league.
Bolton’s former striker Dean Holdsworth and his Sports Shield Company came to the club rescue, with a complete makeover in March, backed by a £4m high-interest loan, having been petitioned by HMRC for their unpaid taxes worth £600,000.
The Trotters got relegated to the League One, but somehow surprisingly claw their way back despite their transfer embargo under Phil Parkinson. When life with Bolton seems looking somewhat fair, Ken Anderson the new Chairman who later became the fan’s enemy, bought the club from Holdsworth.
Following Anderson’s takeover, the 2018-19 season turned into yet another nightmare for the Trotters as they went back to League One. On the back of their time in the lower division, they were served with yet another petition.
In the process of the search for another new owner due to Anderson’s roughness, Bolton’s players went on strike due to unpaid wages ahead of their clash with Brentford.
As the side from Burnden way further experience an unpleasant time in the lower division their training ground was closed due to lack of electricity.
As Bolton’s situation got worse day by day, the fans were left with nothing other than to clamored for ‘Anderson Out,’ with the fan’s banners displaying the frustrations.
It’s got worse in their clash against West Brom when the match was interrupted due to the tennis ball thrown into the pitch. They slipped into administration for yet another unpaid tax that cumulated into £1.2m, which got them faced with 12 point penalty to begin a new life in the third tier with their players been owed for 20 weeks.
In their first match of the season in the third tier, Bolton could only boast of three outfield players plus their youth team to execute their matches, which ended up in disgraceful results against their opponents. During those periods, Bolton got a new owner despite the opposition from the despised Anderson.
Apparently, with unimpressive performances week in week out, the club’s supporters slumped further, it was evident that the Trotters faithful ain’t happy with the way the team is heading.
With the situation at hand, the new owner knew they’ve got a lot of work to do in their quest to revive the club and also bring back the fans.
Bolton now in League Two, apparently doing relatively well with the caliber of players they’ve got in the team, with new owner ‘Football Ventures White Ltd’, Chairman Sharon Brittan, and relatively a decent manager for their level in Ian Evatt, they’re painstakingly ticking all boxes to return to big stage once again.
For now bringing back the fans might be a bit difficult, not even with the Covid-19 pandemic still very much around.
Change is constant, they only need to keep up the fight, and rebuild. Hopefully, the years of the painful decline that was simply unimaginable can finally come to an end.