Diego Armando Maradona celebrates his 58th birthday today. In honor of his greatness, we take a trip down memory lane and relive his only Argentinian league title.
On a Sunday on 22 February 1981, two days after signing his contract, a 21-year-old Diego Armando Maradona came out onto La Bombonera pitch in Buenos Aires wearing a Boca Juniors uniform for the first time. The game was against Talleres de Córdoba and it ended 4-1. Maradona scored twice, opening his scoring tally in what was the beginning of a memorable campaign, Maradona’s only for the club before moving to Europe.
River Plate wanted the “10” just as bad as Boca Juniors and even offered to make him the highest paid player in the club, matching the price tag of their best player at the time – Ubaldo Matildo Fillol. Maradona, however, opted to join the team he always wanted to play for – Boca Juniors. His previous club Argentinos Juniors initially asked for $10 million, a bargain by today’s standards, but a fortune for those days. The teams eventually agreed on $4 million cash, plus six players, additional bonuses and countless personal checks to get the deal done.
The early 1980s were a time of many great number 10’s in Argentina: Norberto Alonso (River), Ricardo Bochini (Independiente), Mario Zanabria (Boca), Carlos Babington (Huracán), Juan Ramon Carrasco (Racing Club), Carlos Angel Lopez (Velez), Daniel Valencia (Talleres) and Roberto Gasparini (Racing). Yet, a 21-year-old Maradona, with the cool arrogance of a genius, his dribbles and his goals, had passed them all in an instant. He was without a doubt, the best player in Argentina and the best in the world at the time.
The arrival of the young phenomenon was celebrated like a holiday. The fans at La Bombonera stadium were exhilarated. They showered Maradona with confetti and showed their adoration of the cult hero. History repeated itself wherever he went. Whether he was on the road or at home, Maradona felt the love of a nation that breaths football. He rewarded his fans with spectacular goals and majestic performances. One such performance came on April 10, 1982 – Maradona’s first Superclasico against River Plate. Boca won 3-0 and El Pibe de Oro scored on his debut in South America’s version of El Clasico.
A couple of months later, his childhood dream was fulfilled. Boca Juniors became champions of Argentina. After 40 official matches and 18 goals scored, the legend departed his home country, accepting a world record offer to join Barcelona following the 1982 World Cup. He returned to Boca for two more seasons during the latter stages of his career, but to this day, the 1981/82 title remain Maradona’s only league trophy in Argentina’s Metropolitano.