The image of Diego Armando Maradona lifting the cup at the Azteca Stadium is definitely the perfect summary of every football player's dream: to be world champion.
But to reach that moment, to conquer the world, Diego had to learn to overcome countless adversities, from the early years in Fiorito where food was scarce and he had to share a room with seven siblings, to the days when his success attracted leeches who only wanted to bleed him dry. "My mother spent years with stomach pain and that was very difficult for me. I always thought she was sick, but when I grew older, she told me it was because she didn't eat so that what little we had would be enough for me and my siblings," Pelusa said in different interviews.
His mother's hunger was one of the reasons that Diego swore he would change her life. But not only hers, but his father Don Diego's, as well. In the late 60s, after spending ten hours working in construction, he took Diego to train with the Cebollitas on a long trip on bus number 28. "On the way back, my father gave me his seat so I could rest while he slept standing to make the most of the time," Diego said in reference to the years when Francis Cornejo, the one who discovered him, not only encouraged him to polish and use his talent, but also bought him sweets and filled his belly with mortadella sandwiches. Back at home, his sisters spoiled him and even covered some of his hijinks. "Mary bathed me in a fountain outside the house when I came back all covered in mud from playing football. Since we were there anyway, she washed the only pair of sneakers I had to keep Tota from getting angry," said Diego.
When he was 16, Argentinos gave him the chance to make his debut in First, but also his first cement home in Paternal, where he moved with his entire family. "We couldn't believe it had hot water and tile floors. It was a huge change for the family," said Diego. As of this point, his life began an upward spiral that would lead him to be the best player in the world and, consecrated by FIFA, the best in history. Boca, his great love, was the springboard to come to Europe, but also another bridge to realise his dream of helping his family. Number Ten could finally purchase his first house, on Cantilo Avenue, in the heart of Villa Devoto, where he spent Christmas with his family until the day of his death. Barcelona was his first experience in Spain. It was a bit traumatic, between injuries and illnesses that were made easier to bear thanks to his family's support. In 1984, Diego went to the Napoli, where he conquered the south of Italy and the world. He lived in a very comfortable apartment on the outskirts of the city, but one of his conditions was that his sister Mary live in the apartment beneath him. This was the same sister who had accompanied him to Barcelona and comforted him when he felt alone.
He returned to Spain in 1992, to Seville, where he began preparing for his last World Cup. He finished his preparation at Newell's, in 1993, where he regained his joy for life and playing football. And since Argentina and his family had meant everything for him in life, in 1995, he went back to his great love, Boca Juniors, to bid football farewell two years later. "My family travelled to all the matches. My father had a truck he put my sisters into and followed me to all the matches. That was definitely the great end to my career," said Diego in an interview. Ana, Kitty, Lili, Mary, and Cali, as Pelusa called them, are the five sisters who, in one way or another, shaped and helped to build the myth that the legend is today. Ana Estela, Rita Mabel, Elsa Lucía, María Rosa, and Claudia Nora are Maradona's sisters. "They were all a bit of a mother, a bit of a friend. They were my confidantes, my faithful and loyal followers, and everything with them was easier," said "Pelu," as they called him, in one of his last releases. A life linked to football, success, and glory, but also struggle, love, and conviction to follow a dream to change his life and the lives of those he loved the most: his family.
Maradona's Press Officer 2016-2020