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Maradona: The Boy. The Rebel. The God.

Guillem Balague

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Biography: sport

The dazzling life story of Diego Maradona, one of the greatest and most controversial footballers in the history of the game, by prize-winning biographer Guillem Balague

Diego Maradona is one of those rare individuals who has become a legend in his own lifetime. Widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, he also one the most controversial. In an international career with Argentina he earned 91 caps and scored 34 goals, and played in four FIFA World Cups. In the 1986 ('hand of God') tournament in Mexico, he captained his nation and led them to victory over West Germany in the final, and won the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player. His vision, passing, ball control and dribbling skills, and his presence and leadership on the field, often electrified his own team's overall performance. Maradona's club career included spells in his own country at Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors and Newell's Old Boys, and in Europe dazzling spells with Barcelona, Napoli and Sevilla. Yet his life was one of unflinching media attention and controversy, including tales of drug abuse and constant health issues.

Maradona's genius and skill long gone, he continues to fascinate every generation. Why is this? Why, at World Cup tournaments, do the world's television cameras still seek him out? What is it about him that has endured for so long and continues to hold so many - football and non-football fans alike - in such thrall? Why does a footballer have a "Church" dedicated to him in Argentina? What fosters such adulation and how does such adoration promote or encourage a self-destructive personality?

Guillem Balague relates the Maradona story as a succession of stories, none of them ever fully told before: The Unknown Maradona. This journey of exploration takes Guillem to Argentina, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla, and finally to Dubai and Mexico. Diego will be the protagonist of these stories (some as short as a page, some much longer, some will be funny anecdotes, some a parabola of his life, and perhaps ours), that will take us from one continent to another, from one club to another. This book represents a psychological and sociological approach to the legend: one told via minor, major and formative incidents that occurred at specific moments in Maradona's life. Based on first-hand stories, they will be presented as vignettes that form a timeline to the present.

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Guillem Balague

Guillem Balague is a Spanish football journalist, prizewinning author and pundit, first for Sky Sports and now for BBC Radio 5 Live. He is the author of A SEASON ON THE BRINK - A PORTRAIT OF RAFA BENITEZ'S LIVERPOOL (2006); the first biography of PEP GUARDIOLA (2012); MESSI (2013); CRISTIANO RONALDO (2015), the Football Book of the Year at the Cross Sports Book Awards; and the bestselling Brave New World - INSIDE POCHETTINO'S SPURS (2017). He is chairman of non-league Biggleswade FC, and lives in Hitchin in Hertfordshire.

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