Diego Maradona scored arguably the most famous goal in World Cup history. It’s known as the "Hand of God." Maradona recently passed away at his home in Argentina from a heart attack. He was just 60 years old.
Baxter says that Maradona was so admired that he has his own religion in Argentina and was even applauded by a rival team in the 1986 World Cup.
“He has his own religion, his own church—and I don’t mean a building—I mean a true faith, there’s the church of Maradona started by supporters there. You mentioned the Hand of God goal, and that was scored in the 1986 World Cup semifinal with England. But what people forget is that four minutes later, he scored a goal that was called the 'Goal of the Century.' He dribbled through the entire English defense and scored the game-winning goal. After, one English player said he felt like applauding Maradona. That’s how big Maradona was; when he beat a team at the semifinal of the World Cup, they wanted to applaud him,” said Baxter.
Not only was Maradona one of the best players on the field, but he also changed the game.
“At the time Maradona was starting up, soccer was changing. He was kind of like Babe Ruth, in which he took the game from one era to another. Before Maradona, the game was very much a team game; individuals did not stand out; it was a defensive game. What Maradona brought was the style, and he changed the game by allowing personalities to come out. Without Maradona, there is no Messi, no Ronaldo, and no Zlatan,” added Baxter.
Maradona had many legal problems, drug problems, and alcohol problems, but regardless of that, he never forgot his humble roots.
“Maradona, with all his faults, gave back millions to the communities where he played. He had a heart as big as his skill level. Through all the things you think about Maradona on the field and maybe some of the legal troubles, the things he did for children and poor people around the world—maybe that’s going to be his greatest legacy when we look back at him 10 to 15 years from now,” said Baxter.
Maradona played his last game for the Argentinian National Team when he was 34-years-old, and then became a soccer coach.
“He coached in the Middle East, he coached the Argentinian National Team in the 2010 World Cup, and then coached in Mexico. His experience in Mexico was amazing. He took a failed team and got it to within one goal of winning a league championship in Mexico. I’m not sure how successful he was as a coach, but one player told me that everything Maradona says is golden. Just anything that Maradona would say might seem very simple, but it was the word of God to those young players,” added Baxter.