Maradona biography: revisited and updated

Few figures in football or sport generally attract headlines with quite the magnetic pull of Diego Maradona, as was confirmed again this week when the poor chap had his top lip practically torn off by one of the somewhat ugly Shar Pei dogs he keeps as a pet.  The animal, from a breed also known as the Chinese Fighting Dog, apparently inflicted the damage in response to being offered a good-night kiss by the Argentine maestro. The Sun immediately dubbed her 'The Hound of God'.

An unauthorised biography by Jimmy Burns, a story mixing extraordinary moments on the football pitch with a personal life dominated by drink, drugs and dubious morality, received a mixed reaction when the book was first published in 1996.

Some readers felt it to be unduly critical, one-sidedly negative and too focused on the grimier aspects of his character, even sensationalist in the manner of tabloid newspapers.   Yet others praised the book for the depth of research and balanced presentation.

Since then, of course, Maradona's life has hardly evolved quietly. In 1998 he received a suspended jail sentence for shooting at journalists with an air rifle and has suffered numerous health problems, including alcohol-induced hepatitis and a substantial heart attack, said to have been related to cocaine use and a fat-heavy diet that once drove his body weight above 20 stones.

Now he is Argentina's coach, in which role, after a typically turbulent qualifying campaign, he will be in the full glare of the spotlight at this summer's World Cup finals in South Africa.

If any participant is in need of an updated back story, it is Maradona.  Happily, Burns, the former Financial Times journalist acclaimed also for his portrait of FC Barcelona (Barca: A People's Passion), has obliged.

An new version of Maradona: The Hand of God, bringing the story up to date, is to be published by Bloomsbury in June, on the eve of the World Cup finals. It can be pre-ordered from this page via the picture or the text link.

To find more books on Maradona, or more by Jimmy Burns, visit the Sports Bookshelf Shop.

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