It isn’t just that hideous statue of Diego Maradona, unveiled in Kolkata earlier this month, that’s causing a media stir, the man himself has been making some controversial claims following Cristiano Ronaldo’s coronation as a five-time Ballon d’Or winner last week.
The Argentine is, of course, no stranger to controversy: failing drug tests, the 1984 Copa del Rey final brawl and of course, the infamous ‘hand of God’ incident to name but a few.
Retirement in 1997 saw him step away from the spotlight, but a return to the game in 2008 to manage Argentina’s national side and guide them to the 2010 World Cup thrust him right back into it, and predictably, controversy soon followed.
It wasn’t long before he was given a two-month ban from all footballing activities by FIFA after using abusive language during a press conference after Argentina had qualified for the Finals in South Africa.
Throughout his career, snippets of ill-behaviour and rumours of misdemeanours were rife, but all could be forgiven due to the sheer majesty with which he took to the pitch each and every week.
His biggest achievements came from leading, or perhaps even dragging, both Napoli and Argentina to tournament victories, both unlikely and remarkable in equal measure.
During his nation’s triumph at the World Cup in 1986, he was unquestionably the player of the tournament and a year later he inspired an unfancied Napoli side to their first ever Serie A title.
For much of the 80s, Maradona was considered to be the greatest player on the planet. But he doesn’t have a single Ballon d’Or victory to show for it.
This is because until 1995, only European players were eligible to win the award, and the World Cup winner has controversially claimed that if that weren’t the case, he would have won the trophy more times than both Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Speaking with AS, when asked about the ineligibility rules in place during his playing career, Maradona replied: “No, no … I’d have more than Ronaldo and Messi.”
He also scoffed at Ronaldo’s claim that he was the best of all time, but said that he considers Messi to be a contender.
“Ronaldo said he is the best ever? Tell him to stop talking nonsense.
“The best? For me, from what little I saw of them, Alfredo Di Stefano, Cruyff, and Messi.”
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