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Maradona special: 'Diego was my room-mate' - Mauricio

Posted on 23 October 2017  - 19:15

Mauricio Pochettino was reunited with Diego Maradona on Sunday, over 20 years since the pair were room-mates at Newell's Old Boys in Argentina.

Ossie, Mauricio and Maradona at WembleyMaradona with Hugo and Harry

All-time great Maradona was at Wembley with another former team-mate and our legendary midfielder Ossie Ardiles for our fantastic 4-1 win against Liverpool.

Maradona and Ossie joined Mauricio and his coaching staff, plus Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris, before the game in the manager's office at Wembley.

Below: Mauricio with Maradona at Wembley

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"It was so emotional," said Mauricio. "It was difficult to let him go because when you are in front of Maradona you want to speak with him, stay with him and share a moment with him.

"It was so emotional because in more than 20 years I didn't see him, to meet again, that's fantastic. For me he's the best player ever in football and he's massive. He remembered every single moment that we shared when we played at Newell's Old Boys. That is why he's Diego Maradona. He's fantastic not only on the pitch, but off the pitch he's a great personality."

Back in November last year, Mauricio told us how he ended up rooming with the iconic 1986 World Cup winner in 1993, when Maradona walked through the door at Newell’s Old Boys.

Regarded by many as the best player of all-time - and voted joint-first with Pele for FIFA'S Player of the 20th Century - Maradona broke into the Argentina first team aged 16 in 1977 and went on to earn 93 caps, scoring 34 goals. As captain, his performances dragged Argentina to the final of the World Cup in 1986 and he went on to lift the trophy at the Azteca Stadium.

Below: Maradona in 1979

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Mauricio watched all that from afar. When Maradona made his full debut, Mauricio was five. When he lifted the World Cup in 1986, Mauricio was 14. Seven years later, he was in the same room as his idol.

“For me, Maradona is the best player I have seen in my life,” said Mauricio. “It’s true you have Messi, Cristiano, Pele, Di Stefano and Cruyff but for me, Maradona is the best. It’s my generation.

“Then you have the possibility to be close to him - the charisma, the personality, everything.

“It was a dream to play with him. He was my room-mate! It was unbelievable. On the first day, I went to go to sleep in the room, I could not sleep! It was like a dream or you are in a movie.”

Age 21 at the time, Mauricio was already a regular at Newell’s Old Boys in the city of Rosario and an Argentina Premier League ‘Apertura’ (1990-91) and ‘Clausura’ (1991-92) title winner. Indeed, he would soon depart for Espanyol. Meanwhile, Maradona had returned ‘home’ to Argentina after a spell in La Liga with Sevilla.

Below: Maradona lifts the World Cup in Mexico in 1986

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“It was fantastic,” continued Mauricio. “I learned things you cannot buy, things you cannot teach.

“For me, the most important thing I learned from him was that to be a great footballer, you need to love the game, to love training, to love sharing with your team-mates, to love touching the football. That was important.

“Maradona is Maradona because he had an unbelievable talent but one thing is important, he respects the game, he loves the game, he always loved his team-mates and respected his team-mates. That’s why Maradona is Maradona.”