Soccer suffers tragic losses over past few months

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Diego Maradona, who passed away at age 60 on Nov. 25, 2020, holds up his team’s trophy after Argentina’s 3-2 victory over West Germany at the World Cup final soccer match at Atzeca Stadium in Mexico City.

Unfortunately, there were many sad deaths in the soccer community in the closing months of the crazy year of 2020 and into the early goings of 2021. From players who have been retired for decades to players who were just starting their careers and were hoping to break through their academies and join the first team, we look back at the lives lost and the legacy they left behind.

The Soccer community was in absolute shock when on November 25, news broke out Diego Maradona, arguably the best player in the game’s history, had suffered a heart attack, passing away at the age of 60. 

Maradona was born October 30, 1960 in Lanus, Argentina. Known for his famous “Hand of God” goal where he scored a very controversial goal with his fist against England in the 1986 World Cup, Diego suffered from substance abuse and a wild personal lifestyle outside of soccer, which ultimately tinted his legacy. From cocaine to alcohol to parties and clubs, Maradona had done it all. He often mentioned that he regretted that lifestyle, and he felt if he had been more mindful of the dangers of the lifestyle he would have been that much better on the field.

Maradona played for the likes of Barcelona, Napoli, and even Boca Juniors, where he excelled in everything that he did because of his pure, raw talent. During his career, he made millions, but he also spent millions. Many are left to imagine what could’ve been if Maradona had chosen a different path, but the world will never know. Olympic Heights senior Matheus Leoncini believes, “If he had focused on training hard and giving his all when he was practicing, then maybe there wouldn’t even be a debate on the best player in the world.” 

Sadly, four players and the club president of Las Palmas passed away on January 24 when their aircraft crashed at the end of the runway shortly after take-off. They were traveling separately from the rest of the team because they had all tested positive for COVID-19 just a week before and were isolating together for one more day. 

The victims were identified as players Lucas Praxedes, Guilherme Noe, Ranule, and Marcus Molinari, as well as club president Lucas Meira. The plane’s pilot also perished in the crash. They were supposed to be going to their next game where all four players were more than likely going to be playing. The cause of the crash remains undetermined.

Social media accounts were quick to voice support for the team and the families of the victims, with many elite clubs and current stars offering to financially support them through these troubling times.

Former Premier League star, and Senegal World Cup hero, Papa Bouba Diop passed away at just the age of 42 from a lingering mysterious illness on November 29, just a few days after the legend Maradona passed. Diop, the 6’5” holding midfielder, was best known for his goal against the reigning world champions France in the opening game of the 2002 World Cup. 

Diop was also very well known for the time when he was forced to play striker in the closing moments of a league game against Middlesborough after going 2-1 down where he eventually scored an unallowed goal. The world was given a beautiful piece of commentating when commentator Chris Kamara said, “Papa Bouba Diop, the man mountain himself, is playing as a striker.” At that moment, Diop scored the famous goal, leading Kamara to scream, “It’s Papa Bouba Diop with the header! Ahhh it’s a goal, it’s a goal Jeff… sorry my monitor’s down again, I’m looking over my shoulder. I don’t really know. The assistant [referee] hasn’t given it, the assistant hasn’t given it, I don’t think. No, the referee hasn’t given it either, I don’t really know what’s happening Jeff,” in which the studio breaks out in laughter. This scene was solidified in the hearts of many once they  heard the sad passing of the legend.

May these lost souls of the world’s most loved game rest in peace, and hopefully, many people can learn about their stories and pass on their legacy.

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