Diego Maradona was unarguably one of the best talents to have graced the football world and thus, was given the nickname El Pibe de Oro, meaning The Golden Boy. Following his exceptional display on the field which landed him hefty paychecks as salaries, the late Argentine footballer was ranked among the greatest players of all time. He passed away on November 25th, 2020 from cardiac arrest and left a net worth estimated at $500,000.
This has raised eyebrows as the football legend made multi-millions during his stellar playing career and equally in his managerial time in different countries. However, Maradona was no stranger to controversy and also had unhealthy habits as he spent money on drugs, alcohol, expensive cars, as well as jewelry. These obviously diminished his wealth that was once estimated at over $50 million.
Diego Maradona Was Worth $500,000 When He Died
Following his sudden demise in November 2020, after suffering from diverse health issues in the past years, Maradona left many astonished when various platforms reported that he left only $500,000. He made a huge fortune at the peak of his playing career and also had many expensive cars in his possession during his lifetime. As a result, the football legend was said to have died poor considering how much money he laid his hands on in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
This begs the question; what were the things that dwindled Diego Maradona’s huge fortune, leaving him with a trifling sum of money before death? Well, the late Napoli star spent the majority of his wealth on financial and health problems, as well as on a luxury lifestyle.
The Late Footballer Started Building His Wealth With His Boca Junior’s Transfer Fee
Maradona began making money as a professional footballer in his teen years. His exceptional dribbling skills, passing, and ball control singled him out in the game and he equally had an eye for goal. His wondrous talent which he began displaying as a kid got him ranked among the most skillful players in the annals of football. After being sighted by a talent scout when he was eight years old, the little magician moved on to join Argentinos Juniors where he began his professional career in October 1976.
During his five year stint at the club, he played 167 games and scored 116 goals. With such a terrific record, offers to join other clubs began rolling in for the young lad who later signed a $4 million contract with Boca Juniors in the year 1981. Having had a strained relationship with the club’s manager, the charismatic footballer spent only a season at Boca Junior during which he helped the team lift the league title.
He Pulled Off World Record Transfer Fee Twice
Leaving Boca Junior, Diego Maradona moved to Barcelona on a world-record fee of $7.6 million. The Spanish giants picked interest in the playmaker after he displayed uncommon creative abilities at the 1982 World Cup. He went on to prove his worth at the club by helping Barcelona win the Copa del Rey, as well as the Spanish Super Cup in 1983. His performance in the 1983 El Classico which Barcelona won enabled him to establish a record as the first Barcelona player to be cheered by the fans of Real Madrid with resounding applause.
He was earning a salary of $50,000 before his controversial behavior took a toll on his playing time at the club. Following his involvement in a violent fight that took place during Copa del Rey against Athletico Bilboa in 1984, Maradona was sold by the Spanish franchise in the same year. He scored 38 goals in 58 appearances during his stay at Barcelona. He then went on to set another world record fee with his move to Napoli.
How Much Did the Argentine Legend Earn At Napoli?
On moving to Italy’s Serie A franchise Napoli in July 1984 on a transfer fee of $10.48 million, Diego Maradona raised his net worth as he reached the peak of his career with the team. Upon his arrival, he became a demigod and was worshipped by fans who believed the midfielder would get the club out of its bleak state.
As the team captain, Diego Maradona led Napoli to its most successful era in the annals of the club as they clinched their first-ever Serie A Italian Championship in the 1986/87 season. In the 1989/90 season, the team won a second league title, having finished as runner-up in the 1987/88 and 1988/89 seasons. He additionally led the team to a resounding victory at the Copa Italian held in 1987, as well as the 1989 UEFA and the 1990 Italian Super Cup. With 115 goals, the prolific second striker was Napoli’s all-time leading goalscorer until Mark Hamsík broke the record in 2017.
While in Naples, Diego Maradona became one of the highest-paid players as he earned an annual salary of $3 million during his 7-year stint with the franchise, adding over $20 million to his net worth. The stupendous wealth, however, gave room for unhealthy habits, as the football star ventured into a life of drug addiction and alcohol abuse. As a result, he began missing training and football games. At one time he was fined $70,000 by the club for his reckless behaviors. In the year 1992, he departed from Napoli shamefully after failing the infamous drug test for cocaine and this landed him 15 months ban.
Subsequently, Maradona experienced a career decline and had brief stints at Sevilla, Newell’s Old Boys, and Boca Juniors. He scored five goals in 26 appearances while at Sevilla and seven goals at Boca Juniors after playing in 30 games during his return to the club. He also earned an income from these transfer deals, although the details are yet to be made public.
Diego Also Earned from Representing His Country In Many Tournaments
The icon had a decorated international career with Argentina. He played a total of 91 games for his country during which he earned match bonuses and scored 34 goals. He debuted as an International player at the age of 16 before playing in the FIFA World Youth Championship which his country won in Japan two years later. He then made his World Cup debut in 1982 and won another gold medal when Argentina defeated West Germany to lift the 1986 World Cup.
During the tournament, Maradona left an indelible mark in football with his displays in the quarter-final match against England which ended 2-1, with the playmaker scoring the two goals that history has refused to forget. His first goal was controversial as he used his hand to score: the goal is remembered as the Hand of God.
During the 1994 World Cup, Maradona failed the drug test, leading to the end of his career as he was handed a 15-month ban. Although the soccer star had a career decline, he must have made tens of thousands of dollars, if not millions from his playing time with the Argentina national team.
He Began Earning through Managerial Roles After He Retired
Still battling with cocaine addiction, Diego Maradona decided to retire in 1994. Nonetheless, he never left the football scene as he began working as a club manager. The late footballer had his first managerial role at Mandiyú of Corrientes in 1994, followed by another brief role at Racing Club.
He later moved to the United Arab Emirates where he was made Al Wasl FC’s manager, though he was relieved of his duties a year later. He further earned substantial income as the mental coach of Deportivo Riestra in 2013 and equally as the head coach of Fujairah in 2017. During his time as the manager of Dorados (September 2018 to August 2019), a Mexican 2nd division team, Diego Maradona pocketed a salary of €150,000 per month and walked away with €1.6 million at the end of his 11 months stay at the franchise. As such, he earned €33,615 per week, €4,931 per day, and €205 per hour.
Following his appointment as the honorary chairman of Belarusian Club, Dinamo Brest, Diego reportedly signed a three-year contract worth over £10 million, unfortunately, his role ended after a few months. Aside from coaching foreign clubs, the skilled free-kick taker also coached Argentina national team on two occasions. He first became his country’s coach in the year 2008 and led them to the 2010 World Cup when he was paid a salary of $944,120. Later in 2018, Diego Maradona earned a salary of $100,000 for his coaching time at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Teams Diego Maradona Played for and Managed VS How Much He Earned
- Argentinos Juniors (1976-1981); N/A
- Boca Juniors (1981-1982); N/A
- Barcelona (1982-1984); over $100,000
- Napoli (1984-1991); over $20 million
- Argentina national team (2008-2010, 2018); over $1 million
- Al-Wasl (2011-2012); N/A
- Dorados de Sinaloa (2018-2019); €1.6 million
- Gimnasia de La Plata (2019-2020); N/A
Endorsement Deals Were Also a Big Source of Income for the Late Footballer
At the peak of his career in Naples, Maradona raked tens of millions of dollars from endorsement deals. While earning an annual salary of $3 million, he made about $10 million from endorsements, making it a total of $13 million annually. He was associated with iconic brands such as the German sportswear giant Puma and Coca Cola. Although in the mid-’90s he had a deal with Japanese brand, Mizuno, he returned to Puma shortly after and was known for wearing Puma football boots.
In 2006, Diego Maradona appeared in an advertisement for Guaraná Antarctica, a Brazilian soft drink alongside Brazilian players, Kaká and Ronaldo. He also appeared with Pelé and Zinedine Zidane in an ad campaign for Louis Vuitton four years later. The famous sportsman additionally earned from his endorsement deal with Hublot and Konami, having featured in the latter’s football video games, Pro Evolution Soccer 18 and FIFA 18.
A Recap of the Sources of Diego Maradona’s Wealth
- Professional football playing career
- International playing career
- Managerial gigs
- Endorsement deals
Various Ways the Football Star Lost His Wealth Once Estimated at $50 Million
Diego Led an Extravagant Lifestyle and Lost Money to Legal Cases
Maradona was quite notorious for his partying and extravagant lifestyle. He purchased many exotic cars and his first, to the best of our knowledge, was Porsche 924 valued at $30,000. He later sold it and purchased Fiat Europe 128, followed by Renault Fuego GTA Max, Mini Cooper, Ford Sierra (XR4), and two F355 Spider worth over $100,000.
While at Napoli, the football legend drove Ferrari Testarossa worth $430,000 and Ferrari F-40 valued at over $400,000. He later had in his possession Scania 113H, Overcomer Hunta, Rolls Royce Ghost worth over $300,000, BMW i8 worth over $140,000, and BMW M4 valued at over $60,000.
Although the late Argentine football great is said to have had houses in several locations, his only publicly known property is his mansion at his birthplace, Buenos Aires, valued at $2 million. It has a sports room, an inbuilt home office, and a parking lot.
Furthermore, he had issues with Italian authorities. He was charged with tax evasion, having incurred €39 million in unpaid taxes for more than thirty years. At the height of the case, his earrings and two Rolex watches valued at €42,000 were seized by the police to pay off the debt that was eventually reduced to €37 million at the time of his death.
He Sued His Ex-wife for Allegedly Stealing $9 Million
In 2018, Diego Maradona sued his ex-wife, Claudia Villafane, for stealing his money worth $9 million when she was managing his finances while he battled drug and alcohol addiction. He claimed that Claudia used the stolen money to acquire real estate in South Florida, purchasing about six apartments of which four were sold for a profit of $1.1 million.
He also stated that his ex-wife had bank accounts in Uruguay and Florida where she hid some of the money. The misappropriation was found out during an audit in 2014, as a result, Maradona filed a lawsuit against Claudia asking for an undisclosed amount in damages. The two tied the knots in 1989 and divorced in 2003, with the film producer walking away with an alimony of $1.6 million.
How Big Is Pelé’s Net Worth Compared to Diego Maradona’s?
Maradona and Pele shared the FIFA Player of the Century Award and are regarded as the legendary No. 10 players of all time. Despite the similarities in their style of play and football accomplishments, their net worths are not on the same level.
Pelé has accumulated a net worth of $100 million from his illustrious playing career, endorsement deals, and ambassadorial works while Maradona’s net worth was estimated at $500,000 at the time of his death. Well, it’s not surprising that the Brazilian great has accrued such a whopping sum as he was the highest-paid athlete in the world in 1975; he had moved to New York Cosmos at a record fee of $2.8 million.
Following his three-year stint with the team, he made about $6 million in salary at the end of the contract and equally made almost $14 million through endorsement deals. Pelé retired in 1977, scoring 1281 goals in 1363 appearances. Remarkably, he made the 2015 Forbes list of the highest-paid retired athletes with an annual earning of $14 million: thanks to his sponsorship deals with Puma, Volkswagen, Hublot, Emirates, Subway, among others.