- The Argentine legend died of heart failure on November 25 at the age of 60
- Lineker says he respects football icon despite his ‘Hand of God’ goal
- Former England star Lineker said he wanted to clap for audacity
- The two met on and off the football pitch and developed a blossoming friendship.
Gary Lineker admitted that Diego Maradona was a mixed mess, but called him “intelligent” and “a sweet boy” after the late Argentine passed away.
The Argentine football legend died at the age of 60 from a heart attack on November 25 last year after a life of partying and cocaine.
However, Lineker said that he respected the football legend despite his ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the 1986 World Cup.
Gary Lineker talks about his relationship with the late football icon Diego Maradona
talking to Guardian, Lineker said: ‘Peter Shilton will never, ever forgive Maradona and I understand that.
‘There’s a handball and there’s a foul before the second [Glenn] Hodl. I didn’t notice until we saw it back for a documentary and all went: Oh. My. God.’
‘So, both goals should not stand, I scored the winner, we won the World Cup! Only two players could score in my lifetime: Messi and Maradona.
‘It crossed my mind to appreciate it. I frankly can’t and I’m disappointed and we’re screwed but that was great, man.
‘I would have been killed, would have met Beckham’s effigies: I didn’t clap, but I thought: ‘This is just unbelievable.
‘Diego was a mixed mess, but what a sweet boy. I spent time with him and it’s madness. Shameless everywhere and you think: How can you be mindful? I thought: thank god I wasn’t that good, which sounds weird and maybe I’d handle it, but I don’t know.
Lineker, former professional-turned-pundit, says Maradona was a ‘mixed mess’ in life
The two met on and off the football pitch and developed a blossoming friendship.
‘Diego got into drugs, that mafia world, but he was great company: funny, smart – you can’t be a great footballer without being smart.
‘I once did a World Cup draw for television with him. It was a complicated draw, a lot of detail, and we were not mistaken.
‘Finally I said something like: ‘You’ve always been good with your hands’ and he’s joking about punching the ball.
‘He gave me a big hug and said: ‘You were a good footballer, but if you were as good at football you would have been as good as me.’
Maradona died on November 25 last year at the age of 60 of heart failure – from a fatal heart attack after major brain surgery.
The football icon underwent surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain. However, the strain on his fragile frame saw him die at the age of 60.
The Argentine legend was widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, but he struggled with his life outside the sport. He was involved in drugs, suffered from obesity, was friends with various women and was associated with the mafia.
After trying the drug in Barcelona in 1983, Maradona became addicted to cocaine.
He also enlisted the services of the Camorra – a notorious mafia trooper – who offered him protection in Naples, considered one of the most dangerous cities in Europe at the time.
This relationship with the Mafia led him into his habits of partying, taking hard drugs, and enjoying the company of women other than his wife – reportedly in several cases.
However, Lineker believes it was his footballing abilities that defined him, not his lifestyle outside the game.