Diego Maradona, one of the world’s most legendary soccer players of all time, died at his home in Argentina on Wednesday after suffering a heart attack, The Real GM reported.
The Argentinian soccer star, who lived to be 60, dealt with heart issues due to obesity and drug use. His “Hand of God” goal in the 1986 World Cup helped Argentina claim the championship in 1986. He led his country to three more World Cup games. His memory was honored by Selección Argentina, Argentina’s national team.
“You will be eternal in every heart of the football world,” the club tweeted.
Few athletes shared the worldly stature that Maradona carried, and the ones who did, he adored.
Maradona idolized one athlete more than the rest, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan.
He once wore a Team USA warmup jersey with Jordan’s number, saying of the Bulls’ icon: “He is my idol.”
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One of Maradona’s Last Wishes Was to Meet Jordan
Olé, an Argentinian sports newspaper, reported that in late 2019, Maradona was asked if he had any dreams left in his life. He explained his desire to meet Jordan and Tiger Woods.
Maradona attempted to visit the United States throughout his life but continuously saw his visa declined due to his past drug charges. He did not hold his denial against the American sports stars.
“Even if they are Americans, they are not to blame,” Maradona said, per Olé.
He expressed his love for basketball as an avid fan of the NBA through the heydey of the San Antonio Spurs to the emergence of stars like Stephen Curry and Lebron James.
“I have fun watching Lebron James and [Stephen] Curry,” he said, adding praise to his fellow countryman Manu Ginobili. “Manu is above all. I think he’s the best athlete in the history of Argentina.”
The Myth of Jordan and Maradona Meeting
While Maradona’s public statements indicate he never met Jordan, there is a myth that circulated the internet that the two sports stars met in 2017, per Olé.
Maradona was kicked from the 1994 World Cup in the United States after failing a drug test. He served a 15-month ban from soccer and a 22-year travel ban that was overturned after numerous appeals and visa applications in 2017.
Harvard reached out to Maradona, requesting a guest lecture for a humanities class in mid- to late- April. There is no record of Maradona giving the lecture, but he did response that he “would like to go to Harvard,” that spring.
It’s rumored that Jordan and Maradona met in Boston without the press, a story only “some close, very few” people close to the two knew of. During a farewell huge, an orange fell to the ground and Maradona kicked it toward Jordan, per Olé.
Olé’s only debunking of the rumor was attributed to Maradona’s quote two years later that he would like to meet Jordan and Woods, publicly implying he had not met the Americans.
Regardless of the rumors, Maradona held Jordan in high regard, as seen in the video footage of him speaking on his idol.