Maradona's kids, ex-fiancée and taxman battle for Sh10billion fortune
Friends and family carry the casket of soccer legend Diego Armando Maradona, at the cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina, November 26, 2020. [Reuters, Agustin Marcarian]

In life, Diego Maradona spent his glittering career surrounded by players trying to get the ball off him.

Now in death, his £75million estate is being tackled by up to 10 children, a former lover and the Italian taxman – all with a share of his millions as their goal.

Yesterday, the inheritance game kicked off with a move as outrageous as any of the Argentine icon’s on the pitch.

Just 48 hours after his burial, a teenager who claims he’s Maradona’s illegitimate son demanded the body be dug up.

Santiago Lara, 19, wants an exhumation so a DNA test can be carried out on the soccer legend who died of a heart attack at 60 on Wednesday.

And that’s just the opener.

The line-up for Maradona’s fortune includes Rocio Oliva, engaged to him for six years before they split in 2018. She wants “financial compensation”, says leading Argentine lawyer Ana Rosenfeld

The hero’s five confirmed children including Diego Jnr, 34, – born to Italian model Cristiana Sinagra and kept secret 29 years – Dalma, 33, Gianinna, 31, Jana, 24 and Diego Fernando, seven, are also entitled to part of his fortune. And Miss Rosenfeld revealed there could be claims from all Maradona’s alleged offspring.

They include Santiago Lara and Magali Gil, 23, as well as three others born to two separate mothers in Cuba where he was treated for drug problems.

Maradona's kids, ex-fiancée and taxman battle for Sh10billion fortune
Charge d’affaires of the Argentine embassy Diego Alonso mourns the death of soccer legend Diego Armando Maradona, outside the Argentine embassy building in La Paz, Bolivia, November 27, 2020. [Reuters, David Mercado]

Regarding whether Santiago’s exhumation request might be granted, family law expert Miss Rosenfeld said the country had seen “other cases where it was necessary to exhume a body to check DNA”.

Experts say the 1986 World Cup winner’s estate will generate millions for years to come in image rights, memorabilia and lucrative investments the star made around the world.

As the search to track down his assets begins, it also emerges part of Maradona’s wealth may go to the Italian government in a disputed multi-million-pound tax bill while playing for Napoli in the Eighties.

The player had fought the bill for decades. But in 2013, a Rome court ruled he owed £36million from 1985 until 1990, including interest and penalty charges.

Maradona’s long-standing Italian tax lawyer Angelo Pisano has cast doubt on how much money Maradona actually left behind – claiming the star never paid him and lived off the charity of fans, even eating in restaurants for free.

Mr Pisano said: “He didn’t earn much as a player. And he wasn’t interested in money – so many people exploited that.”

And Pisani claimed Maradona would have finally been cleared of tax evasion at a court hearing next year, adding: “No criminal, even a Mafioso, was ever treated this badly.”

The man who gained notoriety in England for his 1986 Hand of God goal was found dead in a house he rented just outside Buenos Aires.

Maradona was recovering from surgery for a blood clot on his brain and had been discharged on November 11.

Maradona's kids, ex-fiancée and taxman battle for Sh10billion fortune
Argentina’s Diego Maradona falls to the pitch after being tripped up in their World Cup quarter-final match against England in Mexico City on June 22, 1986. Maradona scored both goals in Argentina’s 2-1 victory. [Reuters, Gary Hershorn]

Friends say he had not used cocaine for years after decades of abuse. But it is understood he had replaced the habit with new addictions to alcohol and psychotropic drugs.

And he also had problems with mobility, caused by football injuries, which left him struggling to leave the house in his final days.

His assets are understood to include at least five properties in Buenos Aires. His garages house cars such as a Rolls Royce Ghost and a BMW i8.

He had a long-time contract with sportswear firm Puma and deals with video games firms Konami and EA Sports allowing them to use his name.

And he’s said to still have various business interests in Italy, investments in Cuba and soccer schools in China.

The man who made millions grew up in squalor, barely able to read or write, in the shanty town of Villa Fiorito on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

But his life became a classic rag to riches success story after he made his debut in top-flight side Boca Juniors at just 15, and led Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986.

After retiring as a player after spells at Barcelona, Napoli and Sevilla, Maradona managed Argentina before joining Mexican side Dorados based in Culiacán, fortress of the Sinaloa drug cartel featured in the Netflix Narcos series.

Meanwhile, the one main woman in his life who can’t join the queue for inheritance is Dalma and Gianinna’s mum Claudia Villafane, 58, who was married to him 19 years.

They divorced in 2004.

 

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