World Cup In 2022 ‘Will Be My Last’, Says Neymar

Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar looks on during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Istanbul Basaksehir FK at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, on December 9, 2020. FRANCK FIFE / AFP
Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar looks on during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Istanbul Basaksehir FK at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, on December 9, 2020. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Brazil star Neymar said Sunday that the 2022 World Cup will be his last as he “doesn’t have the strength to put up with more football”.

“I think it will be my last World Cup,” the 29-year-old told DAZN.

“I will play it like it is the last because I don’t know if I will still have the mental strength to put up with even more football.”

Neymar, who has played in two World Cups and is his country’s second top scorer of all time behind Pele, will be 34 when the 2026 tournament rolls around.

“I will do everything to get to the 2022 World Cup in great shape and will do everything to win for my country, to fulfill my biggest dream since I was little,” added the Paris Saint-Germain star.

Neymar played in the 2014 World Cup on home soil and scored four goals.

However, he was to suffer a back injury before Brazil were humiliated 7-1 by Germany in the semi-finals.

Four years later, in Russia, Brazil were knocked out by Belgium in the quarter-finals.

So far, his international honours have been limited to the 2013 Confederations Cup and an Olympic gold medal in Rio in 2016.

Injury ruled him out of the 2019 Copa America which Brazil won as well as the 2021 edition where Argentina triumphed in the final.

Brazil are comfortably placed to reach the 2022 World Cup in Qatar having won all nine of their qualifiers in the South American region so far.

AFP

60-Year-Old Suriname VP Plays International Football Match

Suriname VP, Ronnie Brunswijk. Source: Facebook/Ronnie Brunswijk

 

Suriname Vice President Ronnie Brunswijk took a break from his political duties Tuesday to play a football match — a pro-team CONCACAF league match. At age 60.

Brunswijk may be second in line to the presidency, but he’s captain of the Inter Moengotapoe football team. He’s also the team owner.

Brunswijk played for 54 minutes in Inter Moengotapoe’s 6-0 loss to CD Olimpia of Honduras in Suriname’s capital Paramaribo.

Wearing the number 61 — symbolic of 1961, the year of his birth — the vice president played in the forward position alongside Damian Brunswijk, who happens to be his son.

“Ronnie Brunswijk (Vice-President of Suriname and President of Inter Moengotapoe) becomes the oldest player (60 years and 198 days) to play in an international club match,” the sports commentator known as “MisterChip” tweeted.

A former army sergeant and ex-rebel leader, Brunswijk participated in Suriname’s civil war in the 1980s against then-dictator Desi Bouterse.

Today Brunswijk is a wealthy businessman as well as a politician, but in 1999 he was found guilty in absentia of drug trafficking and sentenced to eight years in prison by a court in the Netherlands, Suriname’s former colonial power.

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A French court found him guilty for the same crime and in 2000 sentenced him to 10 years prison.

Brunswijk however is safe at home, as Suriname does not extradite its citizens.

First elected to parliament in 2005, Brunswijk formed an alliance with the head of the main political opposition, former justice minister Chandrikapersad Santokhi.

In July 2020 Santokhi was elected president for a five year term, with Brunswijk as his vice-president.

Brunswijk will not join in his team’s second leg tournament game in Honduras, since he cannot leave the country without risk of facing legal trouble.

AFP

Wenger Calls For World Cup Every Two Years

In this file photo, ex-Arsenal French manager Arsene Wenger gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on April 29, 2018.  Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has called for the World Cup to be held every two years in an interview with French sports daily L’Equipe published on Friday. 

The 71-year-old Frenchman, who is now director of development at FIFA, also called for a single annual period of international qualifiers in a global football calendar.

“The principle would be a grouping of qualifiers every year, and at the end of the season a major competition, World Cup or continental championship,” said Wenger.

“Between the two qualifying windows, the player would stay in his club all year round.

“There must be less of a mix in the calendar between the periods of club football and periods of international football, and therefore fewer transcontinental trips for the players, for example.”

READ ALSO: Arsenal’s Steady Demise Hits Rock Bottom

Wenger said he would like to see a single international window, perhaps in October, with fewer qualifying matches.

“For the players, there will be no more matches, and there will be compulsory rest after the final stages, at least 25 days,” said Wenger who sees his proposed new format coming into action in 2028, two years after the 2026 World Cup in North America and Mexico.

“What people want today are high-stakes, easy-to-understand competitions,” he said, insisting there is “no financial intention behind it”.

“It’s a global project, for men’s football, but also for women’s football and youth competitions,” he added.

AFP

Boost For La Liga As Spanish Government Removes Ban On Fans

 

 

La Liga can take another step towards normality next season after the Spanish government confirmed on Thursday it has lifted its ban on fans attending stadiums. 

The exact capacity allowed in each stadium will be determined by regional authorities, with some restrictions still possible, especially in the north of Spain.

But the government giving permission for supporters to return is an important first step as La Liga clubs begin to recover financially from the Covid-19 pandemic.

La Liga president Javier Tebas said earlier this week he expects stadiums to be at least 70 per cent full at the start of the season in August.

“We can return let’s say to normality in terms of fans being allowed into stadiums,” Spanish health minister, Carolina Darias, said on Thursday, with the announcement applying both to La Liga and Spain’s ACB basketball league.

“It will have to be, as it was before, the regional authorities who determine the capacity,” Darias added.

Fans were allowed to return for the last two rounds of La Liga last season but in only five regions and with a limit of 30 per cent capacity and 5,000 people.

Spain is hosting four Euro 2020 matches in Seville at La Cartuja stadium, where a capacity of 30 per cent has been allowed.

Bilbao was Spain’s original host city but local authorities were unable to commit to supporters attending Athletic Bilbao’s San Mames.

The UK government announced on Tuesday the tournament’s semi-final and final will be able to be played in front of more than 60,000 fans at Wembley, which means the stadium will be at 75 per cent capacity.

CAF Intensifies Effort For $1bn Lifeline To Revamp Football Infrastructure In Africa

In this photo taken in May 2021, NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, is seen as AfDB President, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, and FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, have a chat.

 

The Confederation of African Football has intensified efforts for a $1billion lifeline for the wholesale revamp of football infrastructure on the African continent.

President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and Member of the CAF Emergency Committee, Amaju Pinnick, led the drive at a crucial meeting in Abidjan, the Ivorian capital.

“It was a very important meeting, as we started the push for our objective of raising $1billion to change the face of football infrastructure in Africa,” the NFF boss said.

He added, “You will recall that the CAF President made a statement regarding the need to raise this money for the sake of football infrastructure on our continent some weeks back. This new CAF regime is a doing team, not just a talking one. So, we have set out to work.”

Pinnick, who is also a member of FIFA Council, was accompanied by the president of the world’s football governing body, Gianni Infantino, and CAF President, Dr Patrice Motsepe, to pay a courtesy visit to the President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwunmi Adesina.

Also at the meeting were CAF General Secretary, Veron Mosengo-Omba, and Ivorian football legend Didier Drogba.

In this picture taken in May 2021, NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, poses for a photograph with AfDB President, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina.

 

“The President of FIFA was there as solidarity for the steps we are taking. We had a very useful and positive meeting with the President of the African Development Bank; further talks are lined up.

“We are also going to meet with other institutions and individuals who have the means and the willingness to help African football to realise its potentials and break into the big time,” Pinnick stated.

The meeting in the Ivorian capital came only a few days after the CAF inspection team released a report stating categorically that 22 of the 54 countries in Africa have no football pitch that meets the standard to host international matches.

Manchester City Group Announces Tie-Up With Club Bolivar

Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (C) celebrates after scoring their second goal of the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Everton at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on January 1, 2020.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester City’s umbrella ownership organisation City Football Group has set up a partnership with Bolivian outfit Club Bolivar, the Premier League club announced on Tuesday.

The agreement will enable Bolivia’s most successful club to tap into the City Football Group’s (CFG’s) expertise including in the areas of scouting and coaching.

“We are very pleased to grow our global presence through this important collaboration with Club Bolivar, City Football Group’s first partner club,” said CFG chief executive Ferran Sorriano.

He said the link would strengthen CFG’s knowledge of, and network in, South American football.

Bolivar president Marcelo Claure said “a dream becomes reality” for the La Paz-based club, which boasts 29 league titles.

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“We will utilise the expertise and advice that CFG brings to continue in our goal to place Bolivar as a top club in Latin America,” he said.

CFG also owns 10 clubs across the world, including Manchester City, New York City, Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan, and Sichuan Jiuniu in China.

The stated aims of the group, established in 2013, include boosting participation in football and unearthing and developing the best football talent.

Neymar In New Controversy Over New Year Party Rumors

Football Star, Neymar, and his family. PHOTO: Instagram/@neymarjr

 

Brazil’s star footballer Neymar is at the center of a new controversy storm after several Brazilian media reported that he’s organizing a huge New Year’s Eve party despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Acelmo Goes, a columnist for the O Globo newspaper, claimed that the Paris Saint-Germain forward is hosting 500 people for a week-long party at his luxury beachside mansion near Rio de Janeiro that started on Saturday and will last until New Year’s Day.

Brazil has suffered the second-largest number of Covid-19 related deaths in the world with more than 191,000, while 7.4 million people have contracted the virus.

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Neymar, who is no stranger to controversies over his parties, allegedly even installed soundproofing equipment to try to avoid bothering his neighbors.

Leo Dias, a columnist for the Metropoles website who is renowned for his scoops on celebrities, even named the artists due to perform at Neymar’s party, such as Ludmilla and Wesley Safadao.

Guests’ mobile phones are allegedly due to be confiscated on the door to prevent any evidence from finding its way onto social media.

Representatives for Neymar denied the rumors, releasing a statement saying there would be “no party” in Neymar’s villa.

A specialist events agency, Agencia Fabrica, released a statement confirming it had been contracted for a New Year’s event in the Costa Verde region where Neymar’s villa is located “that will host around 150 people … while respecting all the health rules determined by the public bodies.”

Neymar’s villa is in Mangaratiba, a small town in an area of luxury seaside resorts in Rio de Janeiro state.

The local town hall has pleaded with its 41,000 inhabitants not to hold end-of-year parties and has erected barriers to prevent people from congregating.

“We don’t have any information about this party,” the town hall said in a statement sent to AFP.

Neymar, who hasn’t played since December 13 when he injured his ankle against Lyon, hasn’t commented on the party and in recent days has posted pictures of his family on social media without commentaries.

His Mangaratiba mansion is located on a 10,000m2 plot of land that includes a heliport, sports pitches, spa, sauna, massage parlor, gymnasium and dining areas.

It’s where he previously spent his time recovering from injuries and also where he headed from March to June when the coronavirus was raging in France leading to the suspension of professional football.

AFP

How Will Brexit Rules Affect The Premier League?

premier-league-fixtures-today
The Premier League was put on hold since mid-March due to COVID-19 outbreak. Photo: Twitter/Premier League.

 

The Premier League has become the world’s richest league based on its staggering global appeal, with millions tuning in to watch the best talent from around the globe week by week.

But a change of rules as a result of Brexit means English clubs will not have the same freedom to hoover up the best of European football’s young players.

From January 1, a points-based system will be in place, meaning players from the European Union will now need to gain a Governing Body Endorsement (GBE), subjecting them to the same criteria as other overseas players.

Points will be awarded on the basis of the number of international appearances made, as well as club appearances in domestic and continental competitions and the standard of the club and league the player is coming from.

Getting a GBE will not be a problem for the vast majority of the Premier League’s big-money arrivals but the changes will have a bigger effect on the recruitment of youth players and further down the football pyramid.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters sounded confident earlier this month when the English top-flight, the Football Association and the English Football League announced post-Brexit arrangements.

“Continuing to be able to recruit the best players will see the Premier League remain competitive and compelling and the solution will complement our player development philosophy of the best foreign talent alongside the best homegrown players,” he said.

The same rules will also apply to managers and coaches based on the level they have previously worked at. For example, under the new criteria, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would not have been granted a GBE, having spent most of his coaching career in Norway.

However, players and coaches who do not automatically qualify for a work permit can appeal to a panel of experts for an exemption.

As with much surrounding Brexit, however, the rules will be constantly reviewed.

– No new Fabregas or Pogba –

Britain’s withdrawal from the EU means Premier League clubs will no longer benefit from an exception to world governing body FIFA’s rules on the signing of minors.

FIFA bans all overseas transfers for under-18s but makes an exception for movement within the European Economic Area. That allowed Cesc Fabregas and Paul Pogba to move to England as 16-year-olds in the past but this will now no longer be possible.

– Connected clubs –

One way of getting around the new rules is for British-based clubs to have a link to a feeder or associate club in Europe.

Manchester City’s network of clubs under the City Football Group (CFG) umbrella is the most high-profile example. CFG has stakes in lower-league sides in Spain, France and Belgium.

Leicester’s owners King Power own Belgian club Leuven while Sheffield United’s Saudi chief, Prince Abdullah, has an ownership stake in Belgian side Beerschot and is closing in on French Ligue 2 side Chateauroux.

These clubs could be used to ‘park’ young EU players until they turn 18 and also help build up the requisite number of appearances to obtain a GBE.

– Boost for British players –

The Football Association’s key objective in coming to an agreement with the Premier League and English Football League was to create more opportunities for young British players.

The number of overseas under-21 players Premier League clubs can sign will be restricted to three in the upcoming January transfer window and thereafter be capped at six per season.

Speaking about the overall agreement, the FA’s CEO Mark Bullingham said: “Despite having different starting perspectives on how Brexit should impact football, this is another example of how the football authorities can work effectively together for the greater good of the game.”

He added: “We will also discuss improvements to the player pathway for the mutual benefit of football clubs and homegrown talent in this country.”

The limits on signing young players from overseas will have a particular impact on EFL and Scottish league clubs, where a far higher degree of imports from Europe will not meet the criteria for a GBE.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon said he thought the rules would make a clear difference.

“We’re probably looking at the British market more than anything else (for new players),” he said. “I think it’s going to be difficult after the end of the year to get players in from the continent.”

AFP

Perez Says Real Madrid Want Reform Of Club Football Competitions

Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez

 

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez on Sunday said the coronavirus pandemic had increased the need for the creation of a new elite league.

“Football needs new formulas to make it more competitive, more exciting, and stronger,” Perez told club members at the annual meeting held online on Sunday.

Perez also said that the pandemic had cost Real Madrid 106 million euros ($130 million) in lost income, but cost-cutting meant the club had still managed to make a 313,000-euro profit.

The biggest clubs have long lobbied for European competitions to be structured in a way that guarantees them a greater share of the revenue.

“This model needs a new impulse,” he said. “The impact of Covid-19 strongly demands new changes. Football has to face this new time.”

“Reforming football cannot wait and we have to get down to it as soon as possible. The biggest clubs in Europe have millions of fans spread across the world. We have the responsibility to fight for this change,” he added.

The latest plan for a Super League surfaced through a series of leaked emails and documents in November 2018 which suggested that many of Europe’s biggest clubs were working on plans for a 16-team Super League to kick off as early as 2021.

When Josep Maria Bartomeu stood down as president of Real’s great rivals Barcelona in October he called for “a future European Super League” which “would guarantee the financial stability of the club”.

UEFA, the governing body of European football, immediately reiterated its “strong opposition” to the idea.

In early December, British daily The Times reported that UEFA was working on a Champions League reform plan that would see all sides in the competition compete in one league and play 10 different opponents, selected by a draw.

The format dubbed the “Swiss system” is designed to avoid meaningless matches in the group stage.

Real’s members approved a budget for this season of 617 million euros, down from the 822.1 million euros last season.

Perez said the club planned to ask executives, players and coaches to continue the pay cut they agreed last season.

“The management we’ve been carrying out all these years has allowed us to maintain a very solvent financial position which, in light of this immense crisis we are living through as a result of the pandemic, has allowed us to navigate serenely through what is a difficult situation,” Perez said.

“The reality is that all big football clubs are suffering this significant financial blow and we’re not immune to it either.”

AFP

Premier League Agrees To Concussion Substitutes

premier-league-fixtures-today
The Premier League was put on hold since mid-March due to COVID-19 outbreak. Photo: Twitter/Premier League.

 

The Premier League said Thursday that it had agreed to permit permanent concussion substitutes from next month after football’s lawmakers authorised extensive trials using them.

However, in a meeting on Thursday club bosses in England’s top flight voted for a third time against increasing the number of allowed substitutes from three to five despite the International Football Association Board (IFAB) also extending that rule on Wednesday.

IFAB said the trials using concussion substitutes could begin in January, and the Premier League bosses decided they would be looking at a maximum of two per side per match.

“With player welfare the Premier League’s priority, clubs agreed in principle to introduce additional permanent concussion substitutions following approval of the trial by the International Football Association Board yesterday,” the Premier League said.

“The Premier League will look to implement protocols which will allow a maximum of two concussion substitutes to be used per team, with the opposition side able to use the equivalent number.

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“The additional concussion substitutions may be made regardless of the number of substitutions a team has made already.”

Concussion has become an increasingly hot issue in the sport — rugby union has used head injury replacements for a while — with increasing concern over the amount of former footballers who develop dementia later in life.

Although Premier League clubs once again repudiated moves to allow five substitutes they did agree to allow nine players on the bench as opposed to the present seven.

The measure will come into effect from this weekend’s round of games beginning on Saturday.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had been especially vociferous in his wanting five substitutes due to a lengthening injury list and concerns over the hectic fixture schedule.

Others such as Sheffield United’s Chris Wilder argued against it believing that it would only favour those teams with big squads.

AFP

Death Of ‘Eternal’ Maradona Plunges Football World Into Mourning

File photo of Diego Armando Maradona/ AFP

 

The football world united to pay tribute to one of the game’s greatest-ever players after Argentine legend Diego Maradona died at the age of 60 on Wednesday.

Renowned for inspiring Argentina to win the World Cup in 1986, he was most loved at club level for his spells with Boca Juniors in his homeland and Napoli in Italy, where he won the club’s only two Serie A titles.

“You are eternal in every heart in world football,” the Twitter account of the Argentina national team posted alongside a picture of Maradona holding the World Cup.

Napoli’s Twitter feed said: “Always in our hearts, Ciao Diego.” Boca posted: “Eternal thanks. Eternal Diego.”

Maradona also played for Barcelona and Sevilla in Europe and Argentinos Juniors and Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina before embarking on a far less successful managerial career.

“Thank you for everything Diego. FC Barcelona expresses its deepest condolences regarding the death of Diego Armando Maradona, a player for our club (1982-84) and an icon of world football,” Barcelona said in a statement.

Maradona is remembered for his masterly composure on the ball, but he was also famous for his frequent lack of control both on the field and off.

He struggled with addiction, notably to cocaine, and with his weight, in contrast to the more clean-cut image of Brazilian legend and three-time World Cup winner Pele.

“What sad news. I lost a great friend and the world lost a legend,” Pele tweeted. “One day, I hope we play soccer together in the sky.”

The pinnacle of Maradona’s playing career came in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final, where his two iconic goals defeated England 2-1.

Both goals reflected Maradona’s larger-than-life character.

For the first, he punched the ball into the net for a goal he named “Hand of God”, while for the second he showed incredible skill by dancing round the England team from inside his own half.

“By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time,” said Gary Lineker, who scored England’s goal in that match.

“After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully, he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God. #RipDiego.”

AFP

UPDATED: Football Legend Diego Maradona Is Dead

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 29, 1986, Argentina’s football star team captain Diego Maradona kisses the World Cup won by his team after a 3-2 victory over West Germany on at the Azteca stadium in Mexico City. AFP

 

Diego Maradona, one of the greatest footballers of all time, died Wednesday at the age of 60, plunging his sport and his native Argentina into mourning.

Renowned along with Pele as one of the greatest players ever to play the game, the Argentine World Cup-winning captain died of a heart attack, having undergone brain surgery earlier this month, a member of his entourage told AFP.

Maradona will forever be known for his “Hand of God” goal against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final in Mexico when he appeared to use his hand to push the ball into the net before later swerving through the English defenders for a memorable second goal that sealed the victory.

Pele said Maradona had been a “dear friend” and said he hoped they would “play together in the sky” one day.


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Maradona’s Legend Shaped By His ‘Hand Of God’

In this file photo taken on November 02, 2019, Gimnasia y Esgrima team coach Diego Armando Maradona gestures to supporters as he leaves the field after an Argentina First Division Superliga football match against Estudiantes, at El Bosque stadium, in La Plata, Buenos Aires province, Argentina.  ALEJANDRO PAGNI / AFP

 

Gary Lineker, who was in the England team defeated in 1986, tweeted that Maradona was “arguably the greatest of all time” but made a reference to that infamous goal by adding: “After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully, he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God. #RipDiego”

Lionel Messi, the Argentine considered one of the world’s greatest modern-day players, said Maradona was “eternal”.

Argentine President Alberto Fernandez immediately announced three days of national mourning in the South American country.

Shortly before the announcement that shocked the world, Argentine media reported Maradona had suffered a serious health setback on Wednesday and was being treated at his home north of Buenos Aires.

“There are four ambulances at the door of the residence. They have summoned family members to come. It is serious,” the TyC Sports channel reported.


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Diego Maradona, A Divine Talent With Two Dreams
Death Of ‘Eternal’ Maradona Plunges Football World Into Mourning

In this file photo taken on June 09, 2016 former Argentinian football international Diego Maradona (L) and former Brazilian footballer Pele pose after a football match organised by Swiss luxury watchmaker Hublot at the Jardin du Palais Royal in Paris, on the eve of the Euro 2016 European football championships. PATRICK KOVARIK / AFP

 

The life of the divine footballing talent that was Diego Armando Maradona was marked by wild highs and lows, with Argentina and with club sides Boca Juniors, Barcelona, and Napoli.

Excesses with cocaine and alcohol had long taken their toll on the mercurial talent’s health.

The former player underwent surgery earlier this month to remove a clot lodged between his brain and skull.

Maradona has been admitted to hospital three times in the last 20 years for serious health issues — two of which were potentially fatal — due to his drug and alcohol addictions.

– ‘Hand of God’ –

The highs were crowned by his performances when he captained Argentina to victory in Mexico in 1986.

In the final, Maradona set up the 86th-minute winner against West Germany. He scored twice in the semi-final against Belgium, beating four defenders for the second.

But the match that defined his tournament, and possibly his international career, was that win over England, in which he scored two goals that will be remembered forever — for very different reasons.


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‘Ciao Diego:’ Napoli Bid Farewell To Club Legend Maradona

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 29, 1986, Argentina’s team captain Diego Maradona evades a tackle from West Germany’s Lothar Matthaus during the World Soccer Cup final, won by Argentina’s team after a 3-2 victory over West Germany, at the Azteca stadium in Mexico City. STAFF / AFP

 

In the 51st minute, as England goalkeeper Peter Shilton reached to catch the ball, Maradona jumped alongside him and with a deftness that fooled the eye, flicked the ball with his hand through the England goalkeeper’s arms and into the net.

After the game, Maradona said he scored “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.”

The goal he scored four minutes later when he picked up the ball in his own half and glided past six England players, including Shilton, was named “Goal of the Century” by FIFA.

He played for Argentinos Juniors and Boca in Argentina before joining Barcelona in Spain, but it was in Naples where he would enchant an entire city by leading the then unfashionable club to its only two Italian league titles in 1987 and 1990.


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“Always in our hearts. Ciao Diego,” Napoli tweeted after his death was announced.

European football’s governing body UEFA announced that Maradona would be honoured with a minute’s silence before Wednesday’s Champions League games.

In 2000, FIFA ran an online Player of the Century poll. Maradona gained 54 percent of the vote, Pele was second with 18 percent, but FIFA declared them joint winners.

Maradona married his long-time girlfriend Claudia Villafane in 1984. They had two daughters, Dalma and Gianinna, and divorced in 2004.

He also had a son, Diego Junior, born in Naples in 1986, although he only acknowledged paternity in 2004.

AFP