Watch A 20-Year-Old Diego Maradona Provide A Stunning Assist
It had been no secret within Argentina that Diego Maradona was a precocious talent from an early age. Appearing against Hungary as a 16-year-old, Maradona became the country’s youngest international ever.
When the 1978 World Cup came to Argentina the call to include him in the squad, now aged just 17, was resounding. But Argentine manager Cesar Luis Menotti abstained, believing that the pressures of a World Cup on home soil would be too much for the adolescent.
Instead, Maradona led Argentina to the 1979 FIFA World Youth Championship and was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player. Menotti was vindicated in his decision to omit Maradona — Argentina would win the 1978 World Cup, but it was obvious that the time had now come for El Pibe de Oro.
By 1980 Maradona was still playing with his first professional club, Argentinos Juniors, but he’d been added into the side that’d just won the World Cup two years prior.
For those who watched Lionel Messi struggle with the supporting cast around him last night, or for those with an axe to grind about Messi having never won a final, it’s best not to look at the squad he’s lined up with for this 1980 friendly against Switzerland in Cordoba. Either way, you're going to be disappointed.
It’s a sensational team, but the one player who sticks out is the 20-year-old genius from Lanus. Argentina would dismantle Switzerland 5-0, but the first goal, an audacious rabona assist from Maradona to fellow 1979 World Youth Cup winner Ramon Diaz, is a signal that Argentina's glory days had only just begun.
That there’s the left foot that could manipulate the ball as if it were a hand, and a stylish technique that left Swiss players floored. As an aside, but a very Diego one at that, Diaz was selected for the 1982 World Cup alongside Maradona, but the two supposedly feuded when Argentina crashed out in the second round.
It was rumored that Diaz was not selected for the 1986 and 1990 World Cups because of this, a rumor that Maradona later denied.