How many World Cups did Diego Maradona win? Argentina icon’s record


Photo by Bob Thomas Sports Photography via Getty Images

Diego Maradona is among football’s all-time greats for what he achieved for his clubs and country, but what World Cups did the Argentina icon play in and how many did he win?

The Lanus-born playmaker enjoyed a decorated career between 1976 up to his retirement in 1997. Maradona lifted league titles in his native Argentina with Boca Juniors and in Italy with Napoli, while sealing domestic cup glory at Barcelona and European success at Napoli.

Maradona was also the top-scorer in Serie A during the 1987/88 campaign, in-between his two Scudetto wins with Napoli. While the great entertainer made 90 appearances on the international stage, dazzling with amazing technique and dribbling skills like no one else.

Photo by Bob Thomas Sports Photography via Getty Images

The touch and passing skills Maradona possessed set him apart from the other players of his generation. He and Brazil great Pele were in a league of their own for the 20th century, leading Fifa to spit a one-off award for their player of the century between the two icons.

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Without Maradona, Argentine would additionally have not won the World Cup in 1986 as he carried La Albiceleste to glory. Boss Carlos Bilardo did not have many stars in his squad that year, but could rely on his captain. So, what was Maradona’s record at World Cups?

Diego Maradona enjoyed World Cup finals debut in Argentina’s disappointing 1982

Maradona made his debut at a World Cup finals in 1982, at the tournament Spain hosted and Italy won. Argentina would not advance beyond the second group stage round, which marked the quarter-final stage before the tournament path changed for the 1986 edition.

Cesar Menotti started Maradona in all five of La Albiceleste’s 1982 World Cup ties, facing Belgium, Hungary and El Salvador during Group 3 before matching with Italy and Brazil in Group C. He would only find the net twice, though, with each in a 4-1 win over Hungary.

Failing to clear the second group stage marked a torrid result for Argentina after arriving in Spain as the defending champions. La Albiceleste had won their first World Cup title four years prior in their own country, beating the Netherlands 3-1 after extra-time in the final.

Diego Maradona drives Argentina to second World Cup win in Mexico 1986

Maradona would help Argentina put their disappointing 1982 World Cup behind them by winning the 1986 tournament in Mexico. The playmaker had taken over the captaincy by this stage, and showed why with five goals and five assists across his seven appearances.

Photo by Bob Thomas Sports Photography via Getty Images

Only Italy managed to stop Argentina from beating them at the tournament by claiming a 1-1 group stage draw. Alessandro Altobelli broke the deadlock for the Azzurri after seven minutes, before Maradona drilled Jorge Valdano’s pass in with his left boot to equalise.

Maradona went on to score twice against England in the quarter-finals and twice against Belgium in the semis. He also assisted Jorge Burruchaga in the 84th-minute of the final to beat West Germany 3-2, after Franz Beckenbauer’s side came from two down in the 73rd.

But Maradona’s tournament was not without its controversy after scoring his infamous Hand of God goal against the Three Lions. The Argentine broke the deadlock in the 55th-minute at the Estadio Azteca with what was credited as a header after the ball hit his hand.

Speaking after the game, Maradona claimed he scored past Peter Shilton “a little with the head of Maradona, and a little with the hand of God”, via CBS. The jersey he wore that day sold at an auction in May 2022 for £7.1m, a new record for an item of sports memorabilia.

Argentina fall to World Cup defeat as West Germany beat Maradona to win in 1990

Maradona would captain Argentina to back-to-back World Cup finals, but would not win again at Italy 1990. West Germany took revenge on La Albiceleste on European soil for the 1986 result, taking a 1-0 victory at the Stadio Olimpico through Andreas Brehme’s penalty.

Referee Edgardo Codesal pointed to the spot with just five minutes to play of regular time in Rome for a foul on Rudi Voller. Brehme would beat Sergio Goycochea to seal his nation’s third title. Argentina would not play in another final until 2014 when they lost to Germany.

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Maradona started in all seven of Argentina’s World Cup games and played all 660 minutes available at Italia 90. But coach Bilardo was not as reliant on his captain as was the case in Mexico, with Maradona failing to score a single goal and only providing just two assists.

Maradona played in final World Cup at United States 1994

Maradona played in his final World Cup at the 1994 edition hosted by United States, which Brazil won against Italy. Argentina failed to progress beyond the Round of 16 after losing 3-2 against Romania in California. They also only finished third in Group D to make the last 16.

Despite captaining La Albiceleste in America, manager Alfio Basile only fielded Maradona during group stage wins over Greece and Nigeria. The Argentina icon’s international career ended before the third match after he returned an anti-doping test containing ephedrine.

Fifa banned Maradona from having any further role at the World Cup, and he never played for Argentina again. His nation, meanwhile, would not advance past the quarter-finals until they reached the final itself in Brazil 2014. La Albiceleste lost in the last 16 at Russia 2018.

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