Diego Maradona: Gary Lineker’s story about legend’s ability wows BT Sport pundits

  • Rob Swan
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The biggest names in football have paid tribute to Diego Maradona after the Argentina legend’s death on Wednesday.

Lionel Messi, Pele, Cristiano Ronaldo and countless others have all expressed their sorrow via social media after Maradona passed away.

The South American died at the age of 60 after suffering a heart attack at his Buenos Aires home.

One of the best tributes, however, came from Gary Lineker.

The former England international had a huge amount of respect for Maradona and even spent time with the football legend while filming a documentary ahead of the 2006 World Cup.

Speaking on BT Sport shortly after the news of Maradona’s death had been confirmed, Lineker wowed pundits Rio Ferdinand, Michael Owen and Peter Crouch with a wonderful story about El Diego’s extraordinary ability.

Lineker said that he played alongside Maradona for 45 minutes during an exhibition match between the Rest of the World and an English league side, and explained how all the players were in ‘awe’ of the World Cup winner.

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He then revealed that Maradona spent five minutes in the dressing room juggling his socks with his left foot before heading out onto the pitch.

And this is where Lineker saw “one of the most unbelievable things” that he’s ever witnessed from any footballer.

“He did something that was incredible,” Lineker said, “one of the most unbelievable things I’ve ever seen on a football pitch.

“He juggled the ball all the way out to the centre circle and then he went *bang!* and he whacked it as high as he possibly could and he waited.

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“And it came down. Then 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 going ‘that’s impossible!’

“I remember going to training the next day at Barcelona. We all tried it and the best anyone did was three and they were running for the third one.

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“I’ve never seen anyone have such a beautiful affection with a football.”

You can watch the tribute in full here (Lineker’s story begins at 1.35)…

This story sums up the genius of Maradona. He was capable of producing magic with a ball at his feet.

Lineker and his Barcelona teammates were great footballers in their own right, but Maradona was on a totally different level.

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To be able to kick the ball as high as possible 13 times in a row is remarkable.

Struggling to believe it? Give it a go yourself.

You’ll soon realise why Lineker will never forget this moment of individual brilliance from arguably the sport’s greatest ever showman.

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