Soccer legend Diego Maradona, who died today from a heart attack at age 60, was famous for what he did both on and off the pitch — famous goals on the one hand and an infamous personal life on the other.

For a documentary filmmaker who specializes in chronicling the lives of extraordinary but troubled talents, Maradona’s life story was irresistible.

Before he made his 2019 movie “Diego Maradona,” filmmaker Asif Kapadia produced award-winning documentaries about race car driver Ayrton Senna and singer Amy Winehouse. Kapadia used a trove of never-before-seen footage (some from an ex-wife of the soccer star) to make “Maradona,” which is now available on HBO Max.

Like Senna and Winehouse, Maradona was blessed with rare virtuosity. He wasn’t particularly tall and he was definitely not particularly thin. He was born in the slums of Buenos Aires and raised in an Argentine shantytown.


With little formal education, Maradona became one of the most celebrated and highest-paid players in the world and was soon behaving crazily when he wasn’t dazzling fans with a soccer ball.

The highs and lows of Maradona’s athletic career are probably best captured in the 1986 World Cup -- he scored two legendary goals in one match. One was his notorious and illegal “hand of God” handball into the net. The other capped an epic dash through and around English defenders that are considered one of the greatest scores in World Cup history.

Not unlike his soccer career, Maradona’s personal life was filled with wild gyrations, including addictions, affairs, and associations with organized crime. And all of it is well represented in Kapadia’s documentary, which in a way foreshadowed Maradona’s premature death.