Soccer Legend Diego Maradona Gets TV Show Based on His Life

Diego Maradona and Tomas Yankelevi -Publicity-H 2016
Courtesy of Telefe

Argentina's Telefe has signed a deal with the idol to create the first fictional TV show about one of the greatest soccer players of all time.

Argentine network Telefe has signed a deal with soccer legend Diego Maradona to produce a fictional series based on the idol's epic life story.

"We're thinking of an unprecedented super-production, and we're looking for partners willing to join us," Telefe's head of contents Tomas Yankelevich said Friday in a statement. "We expect to deliver global content that will have no borders."

Owned by Spain's telco Telefonica, Telefe is one of the main TV producers in the region and a top competitor in local primetime, with such shows as Graduados and the recent La Leona. Telefe is also a heavy player in the film industry and co-producer of such high-profile pics as Academy Award nominee Wild Tales and Oscar winner The Secret in Their Eyes.

Maradona's life certainly seems like a work of fiction: A rags-to-riches story, he grew up in a poor family living in the Villa Fiorito shanty town suburb of Buenos Aires, only to become one of the most famous people in the world and the most well-known Argentinean (only matched by Pope Francis and Lionel Messi). 

Maradona has been the subject of several films, including Italian biopic Maradona the Hand of God and Emir Kusturica's doc Maradona by Kusturica. He also was portrayed as a character in Paolo Sorrentino's Youth, starring Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel

"Every month of my life is worth 100 episodes. Everything I've experienced exceeds any fiction," said the 55-year-old Maradona, who also has hosted his own TV shows, La Noche del 10 and De Zurda. "I'm happy and excited with Telefe developing this project for the world. It's the story of my life." 

Emerging as a people's idol playing for local team Boca Juniors, Maradona led the Argentine national squad to the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, where he scored two of the most famous goals in history during a match against Argentina's 1982 nemesis, England.

While his second tally in that match is commonly accepted as the greatest goal in World Cup history, his previous one was the result of an illegal, hand-made foul play that became famous as the "Hand of God." Both legendary goals have been regarded as a metaphor for Maradona's outspoken and rebellious stand against the powers that be, from soccer organization FIFA to the Catholic Church.

In Europe, Maradona carried teams from Spain and Italy into championship titles, increasing his popularity among sports fans all over the world. Amy director Asif Kapadia was reportedly developing a documentary about Maradona's mid-1980s career, where he led Italian team Napoli — back then a weak squad from Naples — to its first championship. 

Maradona failed a doping test in the USA 1994 World Cup and was banned by FIFA. He retired a few years later. From the mid-1980s until 2004, Maradona was addicted to cocaine. Serious health problems led him to several rehab stints in Cuba in 2000.

In his diverse post-retirement career, he eventually coached Argentina's national crew in the 2010 South Africa World Cup, and lost at the quarterfinals against Germany.

Always on the international spotlight and raising controversy with forthright statements and political stands, Maradona's story continued in Dubai, where he moved in 2011 to coach the Al Wasi team and became the sports ambassador for the United Arab Emirates. In recent years, he made tabloid headlines again due to his troubled romantic affairs and paternity claims in Argentina.