The controversial genius footballer, regarded by many as the greatest player of all time, recently underwent brain surgery but his health failed during recovery.
A three-day period of mourning has been announced in his home country.
Reader Comments (126)
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1 Posted 25/11/2020 at 17:58:28
Heart attack. Age 60.
2 Posted 25/11/2020 at 18:00:54
Whilst in his day he was a brilliant player, what has been reported since regarding his drug taking gives me reservations about how long he was using and whether it helped his game. Of course we will never know the answer and many people will not want to believe it but back in his day testing wasn't always done and when it was it was always suspect.
3 Posted 25/11/2020 at 18:48:13
Terry said nothing not speaking Spainish, but touched his hand and his head, looking at Maradona to respond. Maradona touched his head.
4 Posted 25/11/2020 at 19:02:04
5 Posted 25/11/2020 at 19:07:26
6 Posted 25/11/2020 at 19:17:17
7 Posted 25/11/2020 at 19:33:56
8 Posted 25/11/2020 at 19:35:57
For a time in the '80s he was almost on another planet - in a period of excellent players all around. Unplayable and jaw-dropping in his prime.
9 Posted 25/11/2020 at 19:48:39
In those days, players weren't as exposed to the media as they are now so there was a definite mystique about him and all South Americans in general. Great days and a truly great footballer.
10 Posted 25/11/2020 at 19:49:33
So what if he handled the ball against England? He was fuckin' unplayable the whole of that game. Took a chance and got away with it... no difference to what we see every week regards cheating. Tierry Henry, anyone? Mo Sala?
11 Posted 25/11/2020 at 19:52:04
12 Posted 25/11/2020 at 19:56:31
Maradona was the most gifted player I've ever seen.
13 Posted 25/11/2020 at 19:58:18
People often overlook his performance against Belgium in the ‘86 semifinals, I guess we, those being English, focus on the quarter-final. I thought that Belgium side were better than us and he ruined them single-handedly.
Always felt he'd leave us early, he blazed a path so fierce it seemed likely it would burn itself out.
14 Posted 25/11/2020 at 19:58:29
Maradona is quite simply the greatest player of all time. The handball is a mere footnote. While 5,000,000 Englishmen may harp on about it, Diego touched tens of millions more.
He represented much more. He was a genius on the ball, truly mesmeric. But he was also the first of his kind, his ascent occurred as the world of football and finance started crossing paths.
While today a young Argentine moving to Barcelona and Napoli may be part of the norm, back then it was new.
His ascent also occured at the same time as the ascent of Cocaine. So big money looked at Diego and thought, there's money in him. And these same people said so of the white powder.
He got caught in the crossfires, a young lad, from poverty and with immense ability. He got taken advantage of, got ripped to shreds... And, despite all this, he remained a legend.
His charm, his pride for his origins, he tattooed himself with Che Guevara, he proclaimed himself a Latin American and proud, he showed his passion and love for his club and his roots.
Diego Maradona, we were not worthy.
15 Posted 25/11/2020 at 20:06:12
Whilst some will bemoan his hand of God and label him a cheat, he was no more than most players who play for or take a chance on getting a decision.
Despite the illegal use of the hand, we often gloss over how a 5ft-4in player (or whatever he was) out jumped the 6ft Peter Shilton.
One incident in one game does not detract from the fact he was one of the best players to grace the game just because Eng-ur-land felt aggrieved. In the same game, he also scored one of the best individual efforts witnessed at that level.
For me, he doesn't / didn't quite top Johann Cruyff, but he is in the hall of greats.
16 Posted 25/11/2020 at 20:09:01
You never lose ability, but once you lose your natural fitness, I personally dont think its ever coming back to its previous levels, ever.
Watching the newest documentary on Diego Maradona, 👏 it looks like his greatest days were over, once the Italians turned on him after Italia90?
17 Posted 25/11/2020 at 20:13:15
It's a debate that will go on forever, but I rank him 3rd all-time, behind Pele and Messi.
18 Posted 25/11/2020 at 20:18:22
I know it's a bit of a cliche / populist argument, but he and Ronaldo were arguably at similar ability levels as teenagers. Ronaldo pushed himself physically and fitness wise. Wayne chose to rely on ability alone and his off field antics were questionable for a modern player of that calibre. Nowhere near Maradona both in terms of ability or accusation of what he has done but parallels?
19 Posted 25/11/2020 at 20:21:19
His second goal against England was a thing of beauty, and to then repeat it in the semifinal against Belgium, was just sensational.
I dont think Ive ever seen a player reach the levels Maradona reached during this tournament, and then what he done in Napoli was incredible, and also incredibly sad.
God bless Diego Maradona, I cant believe how sad I feel, with the passing of the greatest footballer I ever witnessed play!
20 Posted 25/11/2020 at 20:27:10
21 Posted 25/11/2020 at 20:27:24
There are very few in this league. Pele, Cruyff, Beckenbauer and Maradona.
Kevin Sheedy as well (he says totally tongue in cheek!!).
22 Posted 25/11/2020 at 20:36:34
I was told a man from Merseyside went over to Madrid to try and help get Ronaldo fit for the Champions League Final against Liverpool, on the request of the player. The man was a swimming coach (if this story is true) and he said whatever we think about the player (the fella was a red) he said the man is just incredibly driven.
Ronaldo apparently said to the coach that playing in the final wasn't an option, and if he had to stay in the pool for 12 hours everyday to make the game, he didn't have any problems with that!
23 Posted 25/11/2020 at 20:36:57
Everyone has their own favourite with Pele, Messi and Maradona up there with Ronaldo and some others, mostly forwards. My own comes from further back in the fifties and sixties: Alfredo Di Stephano, who could play anywhere and lead the band in any team he played for.
24 Posted 25/11/2020 at 20:53:44
I get the sentiment on Ronaldo's dedication. With football and the occupational hazard of being in the Army, I always considered myself pretty fit, but swimming and boxing training were brutal. Boxercise circuits in particular - the first time you do it, you are shocked at how hard and draining 2 minutes on a punch bag are!
Great call Dave - Messi will also be in that club when we look back in years to come.
25 Posted 25/11/2020 at 20:53:55
Diego constantly played with cortisone injections, throughout his career, which probably fucked him up (excuse the expression). He probably won a World Cup on his own, which Messi never produced for his country, and Pele had fellow superstars at Brazil.
26 Posted 25/11/2020 at 20:54:16
Plattini, Zidane, and the great “willow the wisp” that is Iniesta. I love all aspects of football except cheating, (the hand of god is exempt, because Shilton should have took Maradonas head off!) but the greatest aspect is the skill, watching the magicians who look like theyre talking to the ball!
27 Posted 25/11/2020 at 21:01:27
Messi is good but not Maradona good.
28 Posted 25/11/2020 at 21:06:02
We saw how good he was, and I'd genuinely argue that he never reached his full potential, such was the natural talent the kid possessed.
29 Posted 25/11/2020 at 21:10:28
Whilst I am drifting down memory lane I can glimpse a certain magician named Ferenc Puskas, I hope my spelling is okay. COYB.
30 Posted 25/11/2020 at 21:23:29
The best I ever saw in person was Cruyff -- unlike Pele and Best, he was still nearly at his physical peak when he came to play in the US, and I'd earlier seen him on a summer tour with Barca -- and the best I've ever seen on TV is Messi, but to me Pele still rules them all. Serie A games were rarely televised here in the 80s, so I rarely glimpsed Maradona for Napoli.
For entertainment, compare if you wish -- Diego against England and Lionel against Getafe. The similarity of the two goals is stunning.
Two magical little left-footers.
31 Posted 25/11/2020 at 21:28:53
32 Posted 25/11/2020 at 21:37:06
With a biassed Evertonian head on, we always get excited and hopeful for the players that come through the academy.
But with Rooney, there was never doubt. Never talk of possible potential. At 16 years old, he made a blatant statement to the footballing world.
The only sad thing is, we are talking that he didn't achieve the greatness he could have, when he achieved a great deal.
He could've been on that list. That's how good I thought he could have been.
34 Posted 25/11/2020 at 21:46:53
35 Posted 25/11/2020 at 21:50:54
Tommy Ring played against Puskas, for Scotland v Hungary, and scored. Just a bit of history for you.
36 Posted 25/11/2020 at 22:08:14
37 Posted 25/11/2020 at 22:42:18
Oh and that "Engur-land" team that you seem to despise, contained Peter Reid, Trevor Steven, Gary Stevens and Gary Lineker.
38 Posted 25/11/2020 at 22:56:30
Quite honestly as far as strikers go there have been many as good if not better for different reasons.
Messi, Best and Thierry Henry come to mind not to mention Rooney and Ronaldo.
These guys have scored many of the best goals I have ever seen at the highest levels.
39 Posted 25/11/2020 at 22:57:20
In all fairness, if your still bitter, blame Shilton, he should have cleared man and ball, as I said earlier.
40 Posted 25/11/2020 at 23:00:29
It occurs to me that strikers and finishers have the extra glamour bonus, and there are defenders, midfielders, keepers that may be judged by their own criteria when talking of the "Best footballer" overall. I simply think Maradona's shear impact was unrivalled.
I agree with others that Rooney had even more than we got to see, had things been different. Wow, that kid...
Cruyff... the superstar of the '70s in much of my time at senior school. Strangely often overlooked today. All effortlessly performed while reputedly smoking 20-plus cigarettes a day!
Danny – it's not so wildly tongue-in-cheek. Sheedy never quite had the power and presence to be at this level but did he ever have natural ability. Went so under the media radar in the day; at least we kept hold of him!
41 Posted 25/11/2020 at 23:04:36
Then the goal against Arsenal!
Imagine we had him at that age now in the Moshiri era and we'd built a dynasty around him!
42 Posted 25/11/2020 at 23:10:19
I agree re. Maradona "Chancing his arm" in that game vs England, his initial celebration run was slightly muted and unconvinced 'til he knew the goal stood. He later said something along those lines.
43 Posted 25/11/2020 at 23:11:37
He also won a Uefa Cup with them too. In 1986 he practically won the World Cup for Argentina. He was almost certainly having cortisone injections for several years during the late 80s and into the 90s, so he could play.
He was never given a moments peace whilst at Napoli or in Argentina. Is it any wonder he went off the rails. A genius on the pitch and gave millions a great deal of pleasure and pride and not to just those in Naples and Argentina.
An Icon with a flawed personal life. Sometimes the price of fame and adoration can be very high and for Maradonna as with George Best it was too high as it robbed them of a long life but not of being a Legend, a proper real Legend.
The 2nd goal against England in 1986 still lives vividly in the memory and I reckon always will to those who witnessed it live.
44 Posted 25/11/2020 at 23:12:02
it is strange, almost spooky...
45 Posted 25/11/2020 at 23:14:04
His unmatched influence on games is where his genius lies, only Cryuff in my estimation matched him for charisma – even if he actively pissed his teammates off!
46 Posted 25/11/2020 at 23:18:27
As an aside, the first time I ever heard mention of him was back in circa 1981 when a Leeds United fan who I worked with told me that the Argentinian was signing for Everton. Of course, he was using his Yorkshire wit to wind me up – but ever since I have wondered what would have happened had he have come to Goodison.
Far from an ideal role model but his footballing talent was beyond question.
47 Posted 25/11/2020 at 23:26:18
Rare moments. Watching Ben Johnson in '88 felt the same – though that ended in a different way.
48 Posted 25/11/2020 at 23:45:41
49 Posted 25/11/2020 at 00:05:33
To your point, years ago I saw a piece about the evolution of diving with Maradona and Klinsmann as pioneers. They showed utterly horrific footage of “tackles” on Diego back in South America, Spain and Italy. One after another they made Son's tackle on Gomes look soft. Time and again, the ref played on.
Eventually the penny dropped and Diego made a meal of tackles just to survive. Funny thing is, back then, we said he dived for dramatically landing after being clobbered. Now we say “he deserved to go down” when there is no contact.
50 Posted 25/11/2020 at 00:09:45
The only differences were that Maradona started his move with a pullback, and Messi finished with his right foot while Maradona went with his left.
The commentator called Leo "Diego Armando Messi."
51 Posted 26/11/2020 at 00:20:45
52 Posted 26/11/2020 at 00:30:55
When people are picking 'The Best 11 in the World - Ever' Maradona is going to be in the squad... which is as it should be.
53 Posted 26/11/2020 at 00:43:40
I am so glad these days have seen the almost elimination of the thuggery of football. His personal life saw him out of control, drink and drugs and a hedonistic lifestyle.
I cannot confess to liking him, but I acknowledge his impact on Argentina and world football; skill profound – like a flawed diamond.
54 Posted 26/11/2020 at 01:28:51
55 Posted 26/11/2020 at 02:20:36
He's a worldly no doubt. Anyway, I'm taking Brazilian Ronaldo, the single most thrilling player I've seen.
And the disparaging comments about Rooney are laughable.
56 Posted 26/11/2020 at 03:36:21
Is he not a Ray Wilson fan? lol
57 Posted 26/11/2020 at 03:41:49
58 Posted 26/11/2020 at 04:14:53
F - Pele
F - Ronaldo
F - Muller
M - Maradona
M - Messi
M - Cruyff
M - Di Stefano
B - Baresi
B - Beckenbauer
B - Maldini
G - Yashin
If it were players I actually saw, sub in Cristiano for Di Stefano (drop Pele back to midfield) and Buffon or Sepp Maier for Yashin.
59 Posted 26/11/2020 at 05:30:14
I love listening as to why people rate their own favourites. My old German boss used to say Gerd Muller always stayed out of the arguments between the many world class players of his generation. "He simply settled them". He'd say
Rip Diego Maradona. What a player!
60 Posted 26/11/2020 at 06:16:41
I played semipro back in the 80s with a guy whose dad had marked Muller once in youth football. The dad described Muller thusly:
"That little guy couldn't shoot worth a damn. All six goals he scored on me that day were from inside eight yards."
61 Posted 26/11/2020 at 06:22:32
The 1986 World Cup was one of my earliest and most vivid football memories. Football almost needed the Hand of God to take some of the gloss from the greatest world cup tournament by one man ever.
Maradona was so very flawed as a man and as a person, but a football pitch has never seen one man so accomplished as he. Fifteen years to the day we lost another flawed genius, in George Best, football sadly has to do it all over again.
RIP Diego. Those fortunate enough to have seen you play will never forget you.
62 Posted 26/11/2020 at 07:18:10
A sad day – but not a totally surprising one; he lived a 100 lives. RIP, Diego.
63 Posted 26/11/2020 at 07:57:02
Of the players I saw play, my XI would be:
Southall, Cafu, Baresi, Beckenbauer, Maldini, Messi, Zidane, Cruyff, Best, Maradona, Pele. Subs: Buffon, Roberto Carlos, Moore, Ronaldo and Muller.
64 Posted 26/11/2020 at 08:00:23
65 Posted 26/11/2020 at 08:21:25
I would have thought Zidane would fill that central midfield berth very nicely indeed.
66 Posted 26/11/2020 at 09:04:13
Although George Best is my pick for the best player I've ever seen, Zidane is the best in terms of just the pleasure of watching his style. The ease with which he could control a ball and evade opposition players was just a pleasure to watch.
67 Posted 26/11/2020 at 09:23:38
As an aside. Watching Maradona's second goal versus England in Mexico 86. Is it just me, or does Terry Fenwick's last second lunge actually touch the ball??? Possible own goal for me!!!
68 Posted 26/11/2020 at 09:47:35
69 Posted 26/11/2020 at 09:53:04
Cheers. Me and my mate have been convinced (well, sort of!) about that for years.
Yes, pity Reidy didn't catch him. He might have had a 'word' about the first goal (haha).
70 Posted 26/11/2020 at 09:56:12
I have the ball from that match.
Must write to Mr Rooney and let him know. Only time he scored in an FA Cup Final.
71 Posted 26/11/2020 at 09:56:54
Guys, we have to remember our manager has had Zidane in his team. Doesn't that sound good.
72 Posted 26/11/2020 at 10:04:48
Are you playing Maradona as a wing back in that formation?! I like it!
73 Posted 26/11/2020 at 10:07:01
Mexico '86 was a great tournament, I think I'm right in recalling a big shadow looking like a spider in the Atacama stadium, it always sticks in my memory and Diego literally winning the fuckin thing on his own. No other player has had such an influence, for me, he was a one-man team.
Zidane was also up there some of his touches were out of this world.
Btw Joe, Carlotti might have drilled Zidane but, now he's got the legend Tosun, he's really stepped up a gear.
74 Posted 26/11/2020 at 10:17:53
I think as someone else mentioned in another post the rules have changed so much, that the modern player gets so much more protection from the refs than the older players mentioned.
75 Posted 26/11/2020 at 10:27:17
This doesn't just apply to Diego but certainly fits him as one of the greats of football, in Argentina he is immortal. As a footballer he filled me with joy every time I saw him, only on TV unfortunately. As a man he burnt the candle at both ends and lived life to the full and went too soon.
Funny watching Peter Reid give his genuine regard of Diego as a footballer, funny because I speak very good Scouse but Peter speaks it perfectly, could teach it in Universities if it was a subject!!
76 Posted 26/11/2020 at 10:28:42
Hey, fuckin Requilme would have been the greatest if he had signed for the Blues... is he still at John Lennon Airport, waiting for the call, by the way?
77 Posted 26/11/2020 at 10:41:59
In the 86 World Cup, every squad played their best team... Argentina played Diego Maradona. There's no 'i' in team, but there is in Diego Maradona, and knowing his ability he just went ahead thinking: "I will win the World Cup."
What's amazing from video clips is how rough the play could get in the 80s, and also how much precision his every touch has, dribbling, trapping a ball out of the air and shooting from all angles.
Finally, the mentality to take on all the responsibility when going into a cauldron with TV cameras analysing everything and always, always stepping up to the plate and taking the ball off nervy teammates. Gosh, if we could've only had Maradona for one match in a Merseyside Dderby at full tilt... if only. RIP Legend.
78 Posted 26/11/2020 at 11:34:01
His genius as a footballer is unquestionable. As a man, it is more complex.
Imagine always having to be 'on'. Always having to be Maradona and never simply Diego, the son, the brother, the father, the friend. The entire world wanting a piece of you.
Gracias por todo Dieguito.
79 Posted 26/11/2020 at 12:36:03
There was a guy who used to play for us. Scored goals for fun. Used to race in professional sprint races he was that quick. Pretty good in the air and I know there are photos of him passing on advice to Bob Latchford.
Somehow, because he played before war and days of TV he never gets a mention in these greatest players of all time. But given his records which were head and shoulders above the rest of his peers, he surely should be able to walk into the greatest ever team.
80 Posted 26/11/2020 at 13:06:37
81 Posted 26/11/2020 at 13:10:46
If you watch the low angle shot from behind the goal line, you will see it was Maradona that hit it. It's in the BBC article video that Jay linked to. The original version is a little clearer, if you can find it anywhere.
You'll also see it was Butcher with him, not Fenwick!
82 Posted 26/11/2020 at 13:17:42
Yes, you very rarely hear Dixie's name mentioned but, because it was back in the 30s when he scored his memorable 60 league goals in a season, I guess many fans from other clubs aren't aware of his record.
I don't think Dixie's record will ever be beaten, but George Camsell must be sick as he scored 59 league goals for Middlesborough in the top flight only for Dixie to pip him by 1 a couple of years later.
Another who doesn't get enough mentions when talking about British strikers is Jimmy Greaves; he still holds the record for most goals scored in the top flight – 357 goals in 516 games; of these, 29 were penalties.
When you put Shearer's Premier League record against it, then it shows what a great striker Greaves was. Shearers record is 283 goals in 559 games of which 56 were penalties. So Greaves scored 74 more goals in 43 games fewer than Shearer.
83 Posted 26/11/2020 at 13:18:01
84 Posted 26/11/2020 at 13:24:37
It's hard to believe that in 8 years time it will be the centenary of Dean's magnificent achievement and Goodison won't be the place where it's celebrated, unless of course the Bramley-Moore stadium doesn't get built.
85 Posted 26/11/2020 at 13:32:09
86 Posted 26/11/2020 at 13:33:47
Btw, all these great players named & not one mention of Robin Friday!?!?!?!
87 Posted 26/11/2020 at 13:54:38
Look, I've never cared too much for the England brand, so that incident didn't bother me as much as it seemed to have outraged a nation for decades. Some one put it better above; time to let it go.
There are probably a number of reasons behind my apathy towards England, so I'll share. Personally I've always felt it is a brand predominantly owned by the south east and southern media with a rather sinister supporter culture tagged to it. Additionally, I spent part of my childhood in Germany, following them and Holland as much as England on the international stage (note followed, not supported). My first and only live taste of England was away in Luxembourg in the early 80s. A terrifying experience; for most of the match, pockets of West Ham, Chelsea and Millwall fans goading and even fighting amongst each other. After the match, complete rampage on the streets as the supporters decided to teach those well known aggressors (yes Luxemburg) a lesson by trashing their city and turning over cars. Now living in London, I see traces of that loutish culture surface when I watch England in pubs down here. Although nowhere on that magnitude, it creates a very unpleasant atmosphere in which to watch football. Apologies, that's where my cheap "Eng-ur-land" shot came from.
Finally, I've never really felt the England thing too strongly growing up. I'd be interested in others' view as this is just mine, but never really felt it was a thing in Liverpool. But maybe that's also down to me being a "UK mongrel". One side of the family being 2nd generation Liverpool Irish (the type who still affiliate with the old country) and on the other having a Northern Irish Grandfather married to a Scottish Grandmother.
Long winded, but hope that explains. My throw away comment was better explained above - it was one handball; let it go!
Last point and back on topic, some great examples on here. It seems that a genuinely world class player can unite opinion Those mentioned here were all unique but what bonds them is how they stood out from the rest in terms of their footballing ability.
88 Posted 26/11/2020 at 14:02:15
Have to agree. The England thing has never got me.
I'm only interested if we've got someone playing – apart from Pickford!
90 Posted 26/11/2020 at 14:55:21
I didn't like "The hand of God" thing but most South Americans seem to have the belief that it's okay to cheat.
Having seen the likes of Pele, Best, Charlton, Messi and Ronaldo (and my dad would include Duncan Edwards in that debate), it is difficult to say who was the best because we are looking at different periods of time but suffice it to say Maradona was up there with them.
Just on the subject of Dixie, we should remember he actually scored 85 in that season of which 60 were in 39 league games.
91 Posted 26/11/2020 at 15:22:19
Apologies, guys: Camsell's goals were in the 2nd Division.
92 Posted 26/11/2020 at 15:30:36
93 Posted 26/11/2020 at 16:57:37
For that reason, for me, he is just above those other great players, despite his chaotic personal life. As for cheating, this is so normal now, you could say he was just ahead of his time!
95 Posted 26/11/2020 at 17:16:59
I saw that same incomparable elegance in another player who probably would have been on everyone's list had his career not been hacked into oblivion at age 28: Marco van Basten.
Jay, that is indeed a brilliant article.
96 Posted 26/11/2020 at 17:17:18
That's my thing. Valdano was past it in '86 and the next best player was Nantes sub Burruchaga. People compare him with Zidane but he had Henry, Viera and Desailly. At club level he had the likes of Figo and Del Pierro. He didn't look so hot at Bordeaux surrounded by Burruchaga types
97 Posted 26/11/2020 at 17:32:14
Decision-making differentiates between the good (also rans) and the greats when you are talking at this level. Zidane has a good claim to be considered, in my opinion.
98 Posted 26/11/2020 at 18:29:14
99 Posted 26/11/2020 at 19:12:13
Zidane I think is in the second tier of top players, the likes of Beckenbauer, Charlton, DiStefano, John Charles, Cristiano Ronaldo, Platini, Tom Finney, Puskas, among others.
100 Posted 26/11/2020 at 21:21:20
Okay, maybe not down the pit, but that guy played until he was 50 years old, on a diet of beef dripping, a pint of Guinness, and playing with steel-cap boots on pitches that had little or no grass on at all. Think of the old Baseball Ground for how pitches were back then to get a general idea.
Mathews and Dixie are ones who normally do not get as much a mention as the ones throughout the sixties and onwards.
Still no shout on here for Alan Ball.
101 Posted 26/11/2020 at 21:26:48
He wished he had been able to discuss the incident with Maradona, to draw a line under it. I suspect that Maradona drew a line under it by the time England kicked off. I also suspect that had he been asked to meet Shilton, a reminder of who exactly he was might have been required.
102 Posted 26/11/2020 at 22:13:50
Dalglish maybe but I would say the best British player I've seen. Scholes the best English from United's But neither on the scale of Cruyff or Maradonna.
103 Posted 26/11/2020 at 22:27:17
Wouldn't it be wonderful if this was one of the few places where we didn't have to read about them every day? Now that would be great!
104 Posted 26/11/2020 at 23:10:14
105 Posted 26/11/2020 at 23:40:02
106 Posted 26/11/2020 at 23:49:17
The first time, and I kid you not, was in the old pre-renovated Abbey pub at the top of Tetlow Street.
There was a night game at Goodison and with the usual crowd, I was enjoying a pre-game bevvy when one of the lads raised a chuckle of disbelief when he said that a bloke in the snug was the dead spit of Puskas.
Out of curiosity, I took a peek and, sure enough, enjoying a pint was the great man himself. His companion turned out to be Archie Ledbrooke, Daily Express sports editor.
Both gentlemen were in good humour and shared in a brief but cheerful banter. Sadly, a few years later, Archie died in Manchester United's Munich air disaster.
About 30 years passed and, on a pre-season tour of Western Australia, Ferenc brought his A-League side to our small country town of Bunbury.
In this isolated outpost of our game, this turned out to be a tremendous boost. Ferenc's rapport with local media and all he came in touch with was great. He and his squad of players spent most of the day in the blazing sun, holding clinics for hundreds of kids who came from hundreds of miles away.
Though Puskas must figure on any list of the game's greats, I will not dispute anyone's choice of who was best. I would definitely have Ferenc at the top of my personal list.
107 Posted 27/11/2020 at 06:25:40
For what it's worth, I thought Peter Beardsley was great for us. And I know the arl fella loved both Beardsley and another former barcode/RS Kevin Keegan in his pomp.
I suppose the passage of time helps these things. I've fond memories of Zola and Bergkamp at their best, but nobody really compares in my mind to Maradona, Gullit, Platini, Lineker, Van Basten, Michael Laudrup and the other greats playing when I first fell in love with the game as a kid.
As an aside, the public demonstration of grief in Argentina is just unbelievable. The connection Maradona enjoyed with his countrymen certainly goes beyond football... England certainly didn't react to the sad passing of Alan Ball or Bobby Moore with the same level of emotion! This man was as close to a god to the people of Argentina as perhaps any man has been before or since. Remarkable.
108 Posted 27/11/2020 at 12:43:33
Sigurdsson started the ball rolling a few seasons back, retiring the Everton Number 10 shirt.
109 Posted 27/11/2020 at 13:52:41
110 Posted 27/11/2020 at 13:57:18
111 Posted 27/11/2020 at 17:25:24
Everton's Number 10 won't be tainted in my opinion. Paul Bracewell. That's what I think when I think and Everton Number 10.
112 Posted 27/11/2020 at 18:31:02
On a separate issue it always annoys me when the Number 9 shirt is given ownership to Newcastle United by the Northern press and wider English media. I've always been miffed that Everton do not sell a Dixie Dean Replica FA Cup Number 9 shirt, him I believe being the first to wear the sacred number, followed by some other greats.
The Number 10 jersey is most commonly associated with Pele so it would be premature to retire it from all football. I would suggest that should be a consideration for Argentina and the clubs Maradona played for.
I also remember reading that George Camsell felt he held the true scoring record because he did not score from the penalty spot. Great individual achievements tend to be of their time but great sports persons transcend the moment and that is why they are heralded.
113 Posted 27/11/2020 at 18:44:02
On the back of your post regarding Dixie and the Number 9 shirt, I wondered who first wore Nine for England... It turns out it was Ronnie Allen in 1953-54. As far as I can tell, Allen only made 5 appearances for England:
114 Posted 28/11/2020 at 00:55:20
He played with no protection from referees. He was kicked hard as a player and pain must have been an issue but he loved football. His passion and drive was there to see.
Maradona showed us all we are all human even with fame and fortune.
RIP, Sir, and thank you for the memories.
115 Posted 28/11/2020 at 02:52:10
Retiring shirt numbers is bonkers and way too sentimental. Tomorrow another legend will appear.
Cue Dominic Calvert-Lewin!
116 Posted 28/11/2020 at 06:07:07
I watched it at The Well in Derwent College, University of York. Dead proud of all the blues in the team/squad (I was usually just called 'Everton'; I was at all the games that mattered).
But having opposed the Falklands War, living and learning in anti-Thatcher Liverpool, and picketing at Selby for much of my first year at York, was, quite frankly, not unhappy when the hand scored to give 'ordinary' Argentinians some sort of triumph after Thatcher's disgusting Mussolini/Abyssinia replica war to celebrate her Britannia and save her evil neck at the election.
I've always thought of Diego's hand as payback for Thatcher's the sun never sets on the empire war.
I'd rather have an astute 'cheat' who hands in the air admitted it than Thatcherite England and its army of supporters who perpetrated countless injustices.
I did feel very sorry for Reidy though.
117 Posted 28/11/2020 at 09:26:20
My wife would agree with you, never been to a football match in her life so I took her to the Nou Camp to see Ronaldinho play against Getafe. They only won 1-0 but he got sent off after 10 minutes, so we had to go back to see them play again. We'd nearly gone to see Barnet play the week before...
Patrick McFarlane, wasn't the Argentinean Sabadella? I think he ended up in Sheffield
I don't know if anyone has mentioned it but Reidy once said "I should've just kicked him up in the air as Diego started that run".
118 Posted 28/11/2020 at 10:10:52
I found myself strangely choked up midweek when this news appeared. One of those odd events where someone who you've never met dies and you feel it. Strange one.
As a huge Maradona fan, to me he was the greatest to ever play the game by a country mile – a moot point of course, and there is in truth, no 'best' of all time, only your favourite players. That's the difference I suppose.
The handball goal – blame the officials not the player. Lineker would be hailed a hero for doing the same thing.
Diego changed lives, changed cities, attitudes, a whole country, and the very game itself, in my view. As natural ability goes, nobody can touch him – though of course everyone has a counter-argument and nobody is right or wrong. I won't bleat on about his achievements at Napoli and with Argentina, it's all well documented without me saying it again (I sort of just did!).
As they say in Argentina – Diego Maradona, eternal.
119 Posted 28/11/2020 at 11:00:59
No, it most definitely was not the Argentinean Sabella, although the trend at that time for English clubs to be interested in overseas players was the main reason that I fell – hook, line, and sinker – for the misinformation provided by my mocking Yorkshire mate.
120 Posted 28/11/2020 at 15:11:59
121 Posted 28/11/2020 at 22:30:45
122 Posted 29/11/2020 at 13:35:05
Films like that have you in 2 camps. Marvelling at the footballing genius and quotes such as "the small kid from a very poor area who liked to stir things up but wins" through to the genuine joy he clearly got through football. Then the sad deterioration of the individual as he succumbed to the influence and circus that followed him.
I often think it is easy to label modern footballers as overpaid and they should just get on with it. Yes, they are privileged as a result of their ability, but on the flip side they sacrifice some of the normal aspects of life they probably crave for.
Sad parallels to the George Best story.
123 Posted 29/11/2020 at 13:43:56
If Everton had retired the Number 9 shirt in 1980, then Grahame Sharp would never have worn it. Duncan Ferguson would never have worn it and Dominic Calvert-Lewin would not be wearing it now.
It's ridiculous. How about it inspires players to try and emulate those greats who have worn that shirt before them? That is more of a tribute than never having that shirt seen again.
124 Posted 29/11/2020 at 20:26:44
I watched that documentary myself last night. I had been meaning to watch it since its release but, with his recent death, I had to.
It was an astonishing tale really, it was like some tragic opera (I'm not into opera but I think they in general have all of these facets: poverty, adulation, greatness, deception? Disloyalty, loyalty, victory, tragedy legend.) I'm not sure about cocaine but most probably the oldest trade!!
I am of an age to be nostalgic and also stunned to feel like what I was watching wasn't from my lifetime.
Maradona was arguably the greatest, I think only Pele and Messi can stand on the top step with him. The brilliant pitch level footage in this documentary gives you a better insight into his amazing balance, speed, strength and skill. As a footballer what else do you need?
Intelligence – he had that also. He was the best in his generation, a level above one of the best, Platini.
I think we also mourn a part of our youth when we lose an idol who we have idolised since our teenage times.
125 Posted 29/11/2020 at 21:43:24
His balance was incredible; centre of gravity second to none with speed, skill and aggression to go with it. Not to mention athleticism and an ability to jump considering he was only 5 ft-5 in. I'm convinced Messi would never have been considered in England / UK as the young Iwobi was bigger and more powerful (forget the fact he can't play football). That's obviously tongue in cheek but not far off!!
My only disagreement with you and we are splitting hairs, is what I've said earlier, for me it was Cruyff. But then when you are talking those few players in this calibre, you are totally splitting hairs and will never agree on "the" best. They belong to a select club of true greats.
126 Posted 29/11/2020 at 22:15:53
127 Posted 29/11/2020 at 23:03:22
128 Posted 29/11/2020 at 23:10:33
I suppose not many of us mortals get to have an impact on the world as the likes of Maradona did through a sport that means so much to so many.
I'm not saying that is right and get your sentiment, but guess that's why there is emotion when famous people like him pass.
In fairness, a kid from the slums who started life with nothing and made a lasting influence on the world of sport through his god-given ability as a footballer.
129 Posted 29/11/2020 at 23:15:05
Had it not been for the obvious, we may have seen Maradona play at Goodison.
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