Lionel Messi speaking in 2005: “My old man and my uncle Claudio would spend hours talking about Maradona”

Diego Maradona passed away on Wednesday in his home in Tigres, Buenos Aires, at the age of 60.

The Argentine was one of the greatest if not the greatest footballer to ever play the game, and his personality off the pitch was as strong as his ability on it.

His football inspired millions the world over, not least Lionel Messi.

In an interview with Mundo Deportivo from 2005, the Argentine discussed the influence of Maradona on his childhood.

“I saw Maradona play when I was little, on my pitch [at Newell’s Old Boys],” Messi said. “I went with my old man.

“I hardly remember anything about that day, only that for years they told me that I had the privilege of seeing Maradona live. Diego made people happy, he’s special.

“Maradona’s goal against England in the World Cup in Mexico 1986 is the greatest that football has ever given. I can see it in the morning, at noon, and at night, and I never get tired of it.

“If that goal is showed on the television, you can go out into the street and everyone is talking about it in groups. Imagine how many times they’ve seen it? But it’s the same [as the first time] it doesn’t matter.

“It’s not just the goal, it’s that it was against the English. My old man and my uncle Claudio would spend hours talking about Maradona. When you visited a family member they would put you in front of the TV so you could see that goal again.

“Diego is loved and he was loved even when he fell into that world. Everyone was sad and everyone suffered with him. All of Argentina wanted to help get Diego out.

“Maradona had fallen into a problem and I think we all understood that the world of drugs is something terrible. You should have seen the amount of people waiting at the hospital door.

“He has given us so much…”

Maradona’s story in Spain can be split into three parts.

In 1982, he played in the World Cup hosted there. After its culmination, he signed for Barcelona, where he spent two seasons. A decade after that World Cup, he joined Sevilla, where he spent a year.

His time in Spanish football both preceded and followed his peak, but he’s still someone who left a significant mark on the game in the country.

This weekend, all La Liga games will be preceded by a moment of silence in his memory.

Maradona died of a heart attack just a few weeks after successfully undergoing surgery for a brain clot.

Featured image courtesy of Eurosport.

Tags Barcelona Diego Maradona Lionel Messi