‘What Killed Maradona?’

An Exclusive Investigation Reveals What Fueled and Destroyed One of the World’s Greatest Players
Reading time 3 minutes

Genius, legend, addict. A lifetime of highs and lows, and for decades it was drugs that kept him playing but wrecked his life off the pitch. 

Diego Maradona rose from street urchin to become a footballing legend. Sadly, he was never to see out his later years, dying at just 60 years old. The cause of death was given as a heart failure, but what really killed Diego Maradona?

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Photo: Getty Images

After his untimely death, What Killed Maradona? pieces together the extraordinary life of a man who was addicted to drugs off the pitch, and also relied on a cocktail of pharmaceuticals to maintain his world-beating performance on the pitch. It also reveals how this lethal lifestyle, that began when Maradona was just a child, eventually became the perfect prescription for his death.

Maradona’s story is one of genius and trauma, from the humblest of beginnings in a Buenos Aires shanty town where he would play football with his friends for hours on end, to becoming a football superstar known and feted around the world.

But his poverty-stricken childhood left him at a disadvantage and despite his prodigious talent on the pitch, throughout his junior playing career Maradona received treatments to build up  his physique, which had been hampered due to his impoverished background. His younger years were filled with constant medical intervention. As a foretaste of the controversy that would later engulf his life, Maradona’s infamous ‘hand of God’ goal came against England, as he led his country to victory at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, as well as to a place in the final, four years later.

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Photo: Getty Images

He broke the world transfer record joining Italian club Napoli for £6.9m. But as Maradona’s income rose, so did the pressure to support a growing number of dependents off the pitch, as well as the intense fame and adulation of his fans. He started to show the signs of addiction to alcohol and cocaine, as well as prescription medicines. A preliminary autopsy, widely reported by Argentine media, reveals pulmonary oedema caused by heart failure, but the lifetime of pressure, addiction and abuse of his body have all helped lead him there.

With testimonies from those who knew him best, including Jon Smith football’s original ‘super-agent’, who represented Maradona; Fernando Signorini, Maradona’s former trainer, and Giuseppe Bruscolotti, former captain of Napoli and teammate of Maradona, What Killed Maradona? reveals how this lethal lifestyle, that began when Maradona was just a child, eventually led to his untimely demise.

Available exclusively on discovery+ via the STARZPLAY app from Monday 18 January, What Killed Maradona? is a celebration of the astonishing talent of a flawed football icon, and the influences that ultimately led to his demise.

STARZPLAY is available to download online and via respective iOS and Android app stores.

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