As part of the many celebrations for Diego Maradona’s 58th birthday, we will talk about the legacy he left in Argentinos Juniors, his first ever club.
There are many tales of the great Diego Maradona when he was a player, but there are very few about the happiest years he enjoyed as a professional player when he started his amazing career with Argentinos Juniors.
The ‘Bichos Colorados’ was the very first squad that gave Maradona his big break as a player, a young Maradona started his amazing story since he was part of the youth academy for the club.
Born in Villa Florito, this leftie started to make a name for himself even before he was 14 years old. His youth academy manager, Francis Cornejo, got the squad of Argentinos in a local inferior division tournament but named them ‘Cebollitas’ because he was afraid that the club’s prestige could get stained if they lost.
This children club became the most dominant youth academy club in the history of Argentinean football, in great part thanks to the talent of a young Diego Maradona.
During that time before the young star was given his first shot at top flight football, ‘Cebollitas’ was undefeated for a staggering 136 matches with him as the absolute squad leader.
Maradona was already known throughout the country as the top player for that squad of Under-14 players, but the best was yet to come.
" RECORDANDO " FINALES DE LOS AÑOS 70 S , UN ADOLESCENTE , LLAMADO, " MARADONA " EN ARGENTINOS JUNIORS . pic.twitter.com/wDs9C8ALKn
— mundi (@kranvitter) October 30, 2018
By 1976, Argentinos Juniors was never considered as one of the top clubs in Argentinean football and their biggest pride was within their youth academy.
Before Diego disrupted the whole country with his presentation, the club had already produced some good players but they never imagined what was about to happen.
Just ten days before his 16th birthday on October 20th, 1976, a young Diego Maradona made his debut against Talleres de Cordoba in Argentina’s First Division Torneo Metropolitano.
Manager Juan Carlos Montes who gets all the credit for this historic moment, even challenged Maradona to make a nutmeg to any of his opponents and it only took him a few minutes to produce it with the first ball he touched.
After that, it took Diego another 15 days to score for the first time with a brace against San Lorenzo. When Maradona started his career for Argentinos, the club was struggling with relegation problems and it only took them a year to become one of the most competitive squads in Argentina.
Diego was the man responsible for this huge quality leap, a period of time in which he became the First Division top scorer for five consecutive tournaments for Argentinos between 1978 and 1980.
— Argentinos Juniors (@AAAJoficial) October 30, 2018
Maradona quickly became a sensation and even clubs from European football began to follow his footsteps, but the government refused to let a talent like Maradona leave the country before the age of 21 and Boca Juniors eventually got the best end of the stick through the whole drama.
The historic club paid $4 million dollars to Argentinos for Diego’s services, the star played for Boca for one season and won the championship he wasn’t able to conquer with his beloved Argentinos Juniors.
After only one year with the club from the capital, FC Barcelona bought Maradona and his career in Europe started in 1982.
Despite the bitter way in which Diego left Argentinos, that money they got for his transfer helped the club become a well-established youth academy that eventually transformed into the biggest in the country.
All the young players wanted to start their careers where Diego gave his first steps, his legacy still lives on to this day and Argentinos’ stadium has his name on it.
The names of players who came through the academy after Diego is scary, to say the least. People like Juan Pablo Sorin, Esteban Cambiasso, Fernando Redondo, Juan Roman Riquelme, and Faryd Mondragon are just a few names of the players who came after Diego.
Name the greatest goal or skill you saw from Diego Maradona live or on video. Please share your opinion in the comment section down below.