FOOTBALL ICONS THAT PASSED IN 2020
The year of 2020 will go down as one of the worst in history for obvious reasons. The football world took a big hit throughout the year and several icons of the game passed away. Unfortunately, many of the icons that passed away went well before their time. It was a sad year for fans and those within the game connected to the names on this list. Hopefully, 2021 will be better for the world of football – and those outside of it.
Twenty-three days after undergoing brain surgery, Diego Maradona suffered a heart attack and died on November 25th. Maradona’s health had been in question for years due to long-term drug abuse and obesity. Still, at just 60-years-old, Maradona wasn’t expected to pass away so early in life. Considered the greatest player by many footballers, coaches, and fans, tributes around the world were paid to the Argentine following his death.
On December 9th, Italy World Cup 1982 winner Paolo Rossi succumbed to lung cancer. Rossi was just 64 when the disease took his life. The Italian player’s career was draped in controversy. Rossi was involved with the 1980 Italian football betting scandal, Totonero. He missed two years of club football due to a suspension as a result of the scandal. Rossi returned in time for the World Cup and helped lead the Azzurri to the trophy.
England World Cup winner Jack Charlton was 85-years-old when he passed away in July. Charlton had been suffering from dementia before it took his life. Charlton was the 12th member of England’s one and only World Cup winning team to die.
Papa Bouba Diop
Affectionally named “The Wardrobe” by Fulham fans due to his size, Papa Bouba Diop spent three seasons at Craven Cottage. The midfielder helped the club survive the Premier League relegation drop in each season, scoring nine goals for the club. Just 42, Diop passed away on November 29th following what was described as a long illness. He will be long-remembered in Senegal for scoring the first goal of the 2002 World Cup against France.
Gerard Houllier was the first foreign manager to lead Liverpool Football Club. He was also the man tasked with taking Liverpool into modern football, something the club failed to reach prior his arrival in 1998. In six seasons with the Reds, he led Liverpool to six trophies, including a brilliant 2000-01 quadruple. Houllier passed following a heart operation on December 14th.
Houllier wasn’t the only Liverpool legend to pass away in 2020. Former goalkeeper Ray Clemence died on November 15th after more than a decade-long battle with prostate cancer. Clemence was the backbone to Liverpool’s dynasty of the 1970s. In 1981, he moved to Tottenham Hotspur and won the FA Cup and UEFA Cup during his time with the London club.
Legendary Dundee United manager Jim McLean oversaw the club for 22 seasons, an unheard-of stat in modern-day football. McLean was 83 when he passed and memories of the club’s one Scottish Premier Division title flooded back to fans. The former Dundee United manager had a long battle with dementia before passing in December.