Tuesday, July 17, 2018
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A history of Diego Maradonas epic use of cocaine and other drugs

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A history of Diego Maradona's epic use of cocaine and other drugs
Diego Maradona always manages to get attention (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

Diego Maradona always finds a way of grabbing the headlines and he did so once again with his performance in the stands as Argentina beat Nigeria at the World Cup on Tuesday evening.

The former player and manager was wildly emotional throughout the game and had to be helped out of the stadium at the final whistle with medics called to check on him.

The 57-year-old is known as one of the greatest footballers ever to grace the pitch, but he is also well known for his struggles with drugs throughout his career.

Dating back over 30 years, here is a look at Maradonas well-documented struggles with substance abuse.

Former Argentina forward Diego Maradona (C) celebrates the opening goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Nigeria and Argentina at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 26, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Giuseppe CACACE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADSGIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images
Maradona was extremely emotional as Argentina beat Nigeria at the World Cup (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

Maradona began taking cocaine in the mid-1980s, developing an addiction to both that and alcohol which would last until 2004.

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It was a problem for the Argentine at the peak of his career, which ran from 1976-1997, with him leading his country to World Cup glory in 1986 and winning Serie A with Napoli in 1987 and 90.

The drug use began whilst playing for Barcelona in 1982 and grew worse thanks to his mafia connections in Napoli, where he moved in 1984.

In 2014 he told Argentinas Tyc Sports: I gave my opponents a big advantage due to my illness. Do you know the player I could have been if I hadnt taken drugs?

I am 53 going on 78 because my life hasnt been normal. Ive lived 80 [years] with the life Ive gone through.

A history of Diego Maradona's epic use of cocaine and other drugs
Maradona and his Hand of God in 1986 (Picture: Getty Images)

Maradonas first serious punishments over his drug use came in 1991 when he was banned for 15 months by Napoli for testing positive for cocaine – this lasted from April 1991 – June 1992.

Later in the same year he was arrested in Buenos Aires for possessing half-kilo of cocaine and was given a 14-month suspended sentence.

After his ban from football he left Italy and did not return to the country for years. Italian authorities ordered him to pay £32m in unpaid taxes in 2005, something he is still yet to pay off, saying he doesnt owe anything to anyone.

Diego Maradona arrested in 1991
Diego Maradona is removed by police from a Buenos Aires apartment, 26 April 1991, after being arrested for possession of half-kilo of cocaine (Picture: Getty Images)

Maradona was back in the Argentina team for the 1994 World Cup in America, scoring a cracking goal against Greece in the group stage, leading to a wild celebration into a camera lens.

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However, his tournament came to an end before the end of the group stage when he was expelled for testing positive for five variants of ephedrine, a banned substance.

It was a decision made by the Argentine FA before FIFA could step in, although FIFA went on to ban Maradona for 15 months, ending his international career.

They have retired me from soccer. I dont think I want another revenge, my soul is broken, Maradona told Channel 13 after his expulsion.

Diego Maradona gurning at the TV camera (Argentina v Greece 1994)
Diego Maradona celebrating a goal in intense fashion at the 1994 World Cup (Argentina v Greece 1994)

Maradona returned to the football field in 1993 with Newells Old Boys in his home country and moved to his old team Boca Juniors in 1995.

However, in 1997 he failed a drug test for the third time in six years putting an end to his playing career.

This failure was only ever described officially as due to prohibited substances although Boca president Mauricio Macri said he was told cocaine had been present in a urine sample.

A history of Diego Maradona's epic use of cocaine and other drugs
Maradona in 1997 (Picture: Getty Images)

Even before this final ban, Maradona told a drugs charity in 1996: Drugs are everywhere and I do not want kids to take them.

I have two girls and I thought it best to say this, a fathers obligation… I was, am and always will be a drug addict.

Things got no less controversial in retirement as Maradona was given a suspended prison sentence of two years and 10 months in June 1998 for shooting journalists with an air rifle in 1994.

A history of Diego Maradona's epic use of cocaine and other drugs
Diego has had some extreme fluctuations in weight (Picture: Getty)

Unsurprisingly, Maradonas health has suffered badly as a result of the drug use over such a long period.

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He suffered an overdose in 2000 and a heart attack in 2004, was forced to have gastric bypass surgery in 2005 and was in hospital again suffering from hepatitis in 2007.

A history of Diego Maradona's epic use of cocaine and other drugs
Clockwise: under treatment for drug abuse, 2000 in Havana, Cuba; press conference in Rome, Italy, 2001; press conference in Buenos Aires, 2001; being arrested in Buenos Aires, 1991; in Cochabamba, Bolivia, 2004. (Picture: Getty Images)

However, Maradona has long been thought to have stopped taking drugs, telling Tuttonapoli in 2017: For 13 years, I havent taken anything and I feel great.

Diego does still drink alcohol, though, as has been demonstrated by recent videos of him drinking tequila on a plane and stating that he drank all the wine ahead of Argentinas win over Nigeria at the World Cup.

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