In an exclusive interview with Football FanCast’s James Beavis, Tottenham Hotspur legend Gary Mabbutt has paid tribute to Diego Maradona following his death at the age of 60 on Wednesday.
The Argentina icon will probably be best remembered in terms of football for his performances during the 1986 World Cup as the South American nation won the competition held in Mexico.
Maradona scored 34 goals in 91 caps for his country before retiring from international football in 1994, while he also managed them from 2008-2010.
Reminiscing about his memories of the attacker, including when the superstar featured in Ossie Ardiles’ testimonial at White Hart Lane, Mabbutt told FFC:
“I was very lucky, I got to meet him a number of times. He was one of the best friends of Ossie Ardiles who’s one of my best friends. When he came over [to England] he used to stay with Ossie and he used to come to matches.
“I played alongside him in Ossie’s testimonial match. There was quite an unusual midfield – we had myself, Ossie Ardiles, Glenn Hoddle and Diego Maradona. It wasn’t a bad player to have alongside me!
“Alongside Pele, he was one of the greatest players in the world. His performances in the 1986 World Cup for Argentina and the way that he plays, he was a maestro who could make the ball dance to his tune. He could do anything with the ball.
“It’s very, very sad, he was obviously still very young. Diego was a world superstar. Rest in peace Diego because you brought the world a tremendous amount of pleasure watching him play.”
Speaking about what Maradona was like at Ardiles’ testimonial, Mabbutt added:
“He was a great character and it was a pleasure to be alongside him. On the night he had a great touch, great skills, great ability. And this is a person who came over from Argentina because Ossie asked him if he could play in this game. He came over all at his own expense to play the game for one of his best friends. So that showed what sort of person he was off the field as well.”
Argentina are currently undergoing three days of mourning following the loss of their greatest ever player.