Diego Maradona, the Argentine soccer great who was among the best players ever and who led his country to the 1986 World Cup title before later struggling with cocaine use and obesity, has died. He was 60. Maradona died two weeks after being released from a Buenos Aires hospital following brain surgery, the AP reports. Famed for the "Hand of God" goal in which he punched the ball into England’s net during the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals, followed four minutes later by a goal declared the best in World Cup history, Maradona captivated fans over a two-decade career with a bewitching style of play that was all his own. A ballooning waistline slowed Maradona’s explosive speed later in his career, and by 1991 he was snared in his first doping scandal when he admitted to a cocaine habit that haunted him until he retired in 1997, at 37.
Although his reputation was tarnished by his addictions and an ill-fated spell in charge of the national team, he remained idolized in soccer-mad Argentina as the "Pibe de Oro" or "Golden Boy." The No. 10 he wore on his jersey became synonymous with him, as it also had with Pele, the Brazilian great with whom Maradona was regularly paired as the best of all time. Bold, fast, and utterly unpredictable, Maradona was a master of attack, juggling the ball easily from one foot to the other as he raced upfield. Dodging and weaving with his low center of gravity, he shrugged off countless rivals and often scored with a devastating left foot, his most powerful weapon. The office of Argentina's president will decree three days of national mourning. (The AP has much more on Maradona and his health problems.)