Gary Lineker was left in awe at Diego Maradona's 'impossible' ability

The world of football is in mourning following the death of Argentina icon Diego Maradona.

Tributes have poured in for the legend of the sport after he passed away on Wednesday.

Regarded as one of the greatest footballers ever Maradona enjoyed an illustrious career in which he helped Argentina achieve World Cup glory in 1986. The 60-year-old was a remarkable man on and off the pitch.

Here, Sportsmail recalls some tales from those who were fortunate enough to meet him.

The world of football is in mourning following the death of Argentina icon Diego Maradona

The world of football is in mourning following the death of Argentina icon Diego Maradona

Paul Gascoigne ‘clicked’ with Maradona over a cigar 

The former England midfielder cast his mind back to when he asked Maradona for a lighter at a Soccer Aid match in Manchester back in 2006.

The pair faced each other in the annual charity match at Old Trafford and Gascoigne was in need of a lighter outside the ground and did not realise who he was asking at the time.

‘At a charity game, I remember I wanted a lighter. I’d seen a little fella outside with a parka hat on, a big long cigar,’ he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain

Maradona and Paul Gascoigne played in Soccer Aid at Old Trafford in Manchester in May 2006

Maradona and Paul Gascoigne played in Soccer Aid at Old Trafford in Manchester in May 2006

‘I just went up from behind him and I just said “can I borrow you lighter please”. And he turned round and it was Diego, so I started laughing.

‘So I shared a bit of a cigar with him. And we clicked then.’

The two sensational players had already met 14 years before. Gascoigne’s Lazio locked horns with Maradona’s Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium in 1992.

The two sensational players had already met in a friendly between Lazio and Sevilla in 1992

The two sensational players had already met in a friendly between Lazio and Sevilla in 1992

‘On the flight I’d had a couple of drinks,’ Gascoigne added. 

‘In the tunnel, I went to Diego, I went “Diego, I’m tipsy”. He went: “It’s OK Gazza, so am I”. So that was OK. I went out, I beat about four players, scored a goal.

‘And I looked at him and I said “beat that”. Obviously I spoke a bit of Italian because he doesn’t speak English and neither do I. So I said “beat that”. After that I think I said the wrong thing.

‘He was unbelievable, magic. What a player. My icon is Bryan Robson, but round the world Diego was just a phenomenal footballer, wasn’t he.’ 

Gary Lineker gives insight into Maradona’s gift with a ball

Ex-Three lions striker Gary Lineker, who was part of the England team that suffered a 2-1 defeat by Maradona’s Argentina in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals, paid tribute to the icon and gave a glimpse of his talent with a ball.

He lined up alongside the Argentine in a centenary match in London a year later. ‘I played for a Rest of the World side at Wembley, when I was at Barcelona, all the great players like (Michel) Platini on the pitch were all totally in awe of him,’ he told BT Sport.

‘The first thing he did in the dressing room was sit there in just a pair of shorts, juggling his socks on his left foot for about five minutes.

Gary Lineker played alongside Maradona for a Rest of the World side at Wembley in 1987

Gary Lineker played alongside Maradona for a Rest of the World side at Wembley in 1987

‘Then he went out on the pitch and did something incredible, one of the most unbelievable things I have even seen on a football pitch.

‘He juggled the ball all the way out to the centre circle, when he got there, still juggling, he went ‘bang’ and kicked the ball up as high as he could, then waited.

‘It came down, he went ‘bang’ and did it again. He did it 13 times and the most he ever did was walk three paces to it.

‘All of us were sitting there saying: ‘that is impossible’.’

Ossie Ardiles recalls an ‘incredible’ moment

Former Tottenham star Ossie Ardiles was great friends with his former Argentina team-mate Maradona.

The 68-year-old reminisced about the time the diminutive No 10 performed keepie-uppies in a suit and new shoes.

‘Here was Diego, on the same stage where Nelson Mandela and Ronald Regan had stood,’ he told Sportsmail. ‘Suddenly, one guy shouts, “Can you do keepie-uppies with this?”, and he throws a golf ball towards us.

‘I’m thinking, “Oh no, he’s wearing a suit and brand new shoes, this will be difficult”. Diego pulls his trousers up and starts keeping the ball up. Boom, boom, boom. Easy. He then kicks it back to the guy with his heel. It was incredible. Only Diego.’

Ossie Ardiles (left) was good friends with Diego Maradona. The pair are pictured at a Tottenham game against Liverpool in the Premier League at Wembley in 2017

Ossie Ardiles (left) was good friends with Diego Maradona. The pair are pictured at a Tottenham game against Liverpool in the Premier League at Wembley in 2017

Maradona tells Andy Murray ‘hope that you soon become #1’

Three-time Grand Slam tennis champion Andy Murray retold the time he met Maradona in London. 

He wrote on Instagram: ‘I was lucky enough to meet Maradona once at the 02 arena. He had come to watch the tennis there. He spoke to me for a couple of minutes in Spanish with unbelievable energy, passion and expression.

‘Unfortunately I barely understood a word but that didn’t seem to matter. He was diminutive in size but clearly a larger than life character/personality with a tonne of charisma.

‘The following day I was given a signed Argentina (shirt) which he left for me that you can see in the second picture which reads..”To my friend Andy with all my love and hope that you soon become #1″.

‘Numero uno were the only words I understood from our conversation.’

Murray duly delivered and was world No 1 in 2016. 

 

 

Three-time Grand Slam tennis champion Andy Murray has retold the time he met Maradona

Three-time Grand Slam tennis champion Andy Murray has retold the time he met Maradona

Maradona stunned Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United stars 

Manchester United were paid a visit by Maradona during Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure in 2008 and the squad were left startled.  

‘In the world of football, Maradona was God. It’s a tragic and terrible day for everyone connected with football. Everyone loved the way he used to play and the way he touched the ball, he was something else,’ former striker Dimitar Berbatov told Betfair

‘I always remember the day he came to the training ground at Manchester United, we were doing some drills on the pitch and all of a sudden someone said, “Is that Maradona with the boss coming over?” Everybody stopped and froze, we were all watching God walk towards us. It was a great experience to meet him in person as well as watch him score the goals he did, he was out of this world.

‘It’s a sad day for everyone in football, I’m lost for words.’

Manchester United were paid a visit by Maradona during Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure in 2008

Terry Fenwick on marking Maradona

Ex-England defender Terry Fenwick had the task of trying to stop Maradona, who scored a brace within four minutes including the Hand of God’ goal, at the 1986 World Cup but he could not be halted, not matter how hard he tried. 

‘I belted him two or three times. I thought “that’s him done”. He was off the pitch for four and a half minutes after I whacked him once,’ Fenwick told talkSPORT.

‘And when I turned round and he was warming up to come back on, I was thinking “what the hell have I got to do to stop this man?”. He was built like you wouldn’t believe. He was a pit bull and he came back for more all the time.

‘The ball was stuck to that left foot, you couldn’t get it off him. I tried to intimidate him but he was always there, ready for more. I didn’t say two words to him but he was chatting to me from start to finish.

‘That was the confidence of the man. He knew he was better than the rest. What a player.’

Ex-England defender Terry Fenwick had task of trying to stop Maradona at the 1986 World Cup

Ex-England defender Terry Fenwick had task of trying to stop Maradona at the 1986 World Cup

‘A genius footballer… no one could do what he could do’

As well as the ‘Hand of God’ goal Maradona scored one of the greatest goals of all time as he broke England hearts 34 years ago.

And Trevor Steven, who played 74 minutes of that last-eight clash in Mexico City, has provided insight into what Maradona was like as a player. 

‘The quarter-final of a World Cup played at 9,000 feet above sea level and in temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit… playing in those conditions was a challenge in itself but when you look at the level he took the game to it was almost unbelievable,’ he told Reuters.

Maradona scored one of the greatest goals of all time against England at the 1986 World Cup

Maradona scored one of the greatest goals of all time against England at the 1986 World Cup

‘I certainly feel I admired him but I didn’t know whether to like him or loathe him as an individual because of the effect his action had on England but also on that group of players and on myself personally.

‘As time goes by, the feelings get diluted somewhat and the wounds healed. You could take Maradona for what he was – a genius footballer, a flawed genius with his lifestyle, but with his footballing ability he was out there on his own.

‘Of all the great players around the world, no one could do what he could do. That (the Hand of God) was a split second but he had 15 years of professional football where he… won the highest honours.

‘So we need to remember him for those achievements rather than being very parochial or personal about that day way back in June 1986.’

Maradona buys team-mate Monchi a brand new Cartier watch

Sevilla’s sporting director Monchi became close friends with Maradona when the latter joined the club for the 1992-1993 season. He played alongside him and years later put up a picture of the pair together in his club office.

‘I was the last monkey – the least important member of the squad. I was only playing here because it was a first-leg cup game as you can see in the background there is hardly anyone in the stadium,’ he told Sportsmail. ‘Diego was at 30 per cent of his capacity by then but he was still incredible.’

During their time at the Spanish side Maradona spotted back-up goalkeeper Monchi was wearing a fake Rolex and the No 10 gifted him a Cartier watch to replace it.

‘In Barcelona we played with Espanyol and walking with him down Las Ramblas he saw that he was wearing a Rolex, he told me it was very nice and I told him how nice but fake,’ Monchi recalls to Marca.

‘I bought it in Ibiza. And one day, when he finished training, He told me to wait for me and gave me an original Cartier so I would never wear a fake one.’

‘Impossible not to love him’ 

Ciro Ferrara was team-mates with Maradona for seven years at Napoli and has lifted the lid on how dedicated he was to the game.

The former defender told Repubblica: ‘I respected him, I knew him as few in the world but I loved him like many fans: it was impossible not to. Maradona was a person good and deep, he had an overflowing humanity. Diego was close to everyone. He was a God, no one has ever been more human than him.

‘Sometimes at night I could hear the roar of his Ferrari coming from his garage. Then the next day when he was late for training, my team-mates asked “so Ciro, what’s he doing?” 

‘I said “I don’t think he’s coming today”. But then I found him training alone, like a madman. He worked really hard, he was all for one and one for all. He made me win and he made me become a man.’ 

Ciro Ferrara (second left) was team-mates with Maradona (centre) for seven years at Napoli

Ciro Ferrara (second left) was team-mates with Maradona (centre) for seven years at Napoli

P.S. WHEN OASIS’ LIAM GALLAGHER MET MARADONA

‘We was in Argentina, and we’d done a gig,’ Gallagher told Noisey three years ago.

‘Next minute we’re sat in the bar having a f***ing drink, and about 30 people come legging it in, like the Ant Hill Mob.

‘We were going “Who the f**king hell’s that?” Sting was at the bar crying cos he’d had his f***ing dressing room robbed, and anyway we found out it was Maradona.

‘He’d gone upstairs with a load of f***ing madheads, and a load of f***ing, women of the night.

‘And we were going like, can we go up and meet him, to the interpreter. And the interpreter said “Alright cool, let me go and square it with them.”

‘He’s gone up, come back down and gone “Only the Gallagher brothers can go up.” So we were like, “laters”.

‘We steamed up there and there’s loads of f***ing, activity going on, and Maradona’s in the middle of the room doing football tricks with a bottle top.

‘And his eyes were f***ing like that [huge], and ours weren’t far off, and I just went like, ‘It’s a bit moody in here, let’s get a quick picture with him and f*** off.

‘And he’s sweating his b******s off, and we turn around [to the interpreter] and he says: “He told me to tell you, if yous leave with any of these b*****s, he’ll have you shot.”‘

Both Liam and Noel Gallagher paid tribute to Maradona following his death with posts on social media.

Liam wrote: ‘Maradona GOAT rip LG x.’ While Noel’s Tweet read: ‘Buenos Aires ‘97. What a life. What a legend,’ with a picture of the three together.

source: dailymail.co.uk

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