Diego Maradona gave football countless moments of pure wonder – but perhaps his most delightful contribution occurred before one particular match kicked off.
It’s the first leg of the 1989 UEFA Cup final in Naples. Napoli vs Stuttgart. Maradona vs Jurgen Klinsmann.
A thrilling tie would finish 5-4 to the Italians on aggregate, with both aforementioned icons on the score sheet across two electric matches.
However, it’s not the goals which have garnered more than three million views on YouTube, drawing an increasingly-fascinated audience more than three decades later.
In fact, the 87,000 inside the Stadio San Paolo, and indeed Napoli’s opposition, were a little distracted before kick-off, too.
That’s because Maradona delivered the most iconic warm-ups of all time.
With the laces of his Puma Kings untied, the rhythm of Opus’ Life Is Life pulsing through his veins, the legendary Argentine put on a show.
Effortlessly, Maradona and the ball become one beautiful thing. He’s just doing kick-ups, but it’s totally captivating and a bit magical.
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Speaking to talkSPORT on the new series of My Sporting Life, Germany legend Klinsmann recalls watching in awe with his Stuttgart teammates from the opposite end of the pitch.
Klinsmann said about Maradona: “I always call him an artist.
“He did things other people would never think about. He saw things other people would never see. Obviously his technique was insane.
“I remember in my UEFA Cup semi-final against him, the warm up he did became legendary on YouTube, and we players were standing on the other side trying to warm up, and we were just watching him.”
The iconic Tottenham and Bayern Munich striker had many famous battles with Maradona over the years, losing out in 1989 but claiming revenge in the World Cup final a year later.
Over time Klinsmann got to know the man behind the mercurial, once-in-a-generation talent – and he loved both of them the same.
He added: “Yeah I got to know him a little bit better over the years and we had many games with Inter Milan against Napoli, we had UEFA Cup final with Stuttgart against Napoli, we lost that one against him.
“He was just an unbelievable player. Obviously there was the off-field stories about him that were very sad but he was always a super friendly personality, big heart and a little bit crazy. That’s why he went off track once in a while.
“But he was another level. In the 90s we had fantastic players, like Paul Gascoine, Gary Lineker, but there was only one player standing above us and that was him.”
talkSPORT is to air a new series of My Sporting Life, speaking to leading athletes across the world about their life in sport. Listen to the opening episode on Sunday at 8pm, with former Bayern Munich, Tottenham and Germany striker Jurgen Klinsmann in discussion with Paul Coyte.
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