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Gary Lineker Shares Heartfelt Story Of Playing Alongside Diego Maradona

Gary Lineker Shares Heartfelt Story Of Playing Alongside Diego Maradona

Gary Lineker's emotional tale of playing alongside Diego Maradona left a panel of top footballers absolutely stunned and open-mouthed.

Lineker, who faced Maradona's Argentina in the 1986 World Cup, also played as a teammate of El Diego. The pair were part of a Rest of the World XI taking on an English league side at Wembley in a one-off game.

Then Barcelona striker Lineker explains how a dressing room of legends were left "in awe" of Maradona, who passed away age 60 following a cardiac arrest on Wednesday.

"All the players - there was people like [Michel] Platini on the pitch, lots of great players from around the world - and everyone was totally in awe of him," said Lineker on BT Sport.

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"The first thing he did was in the dressing room, he sat there; just a pair of shorts. And you know you roll your socks up [into a ball]? He did that and just juggled them on his left foot for about five minutes."

A panel of England internationals - Rio Ferdinand, Michael Owen and Peter Crouch - look absolutely mesmerised. Especially as Lineker went on to share "one of the most unbelievable things I've ever seen on a football pitch."

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Lineker explained that Maradona's pre-kick-off trick was to kick the ball as hard and high into the air as he could, then watch as it fell back down at his feet with remarkable accuracy. "That's impossible," says Lineker, as a visibly shocked Owen replies: "It is."

Maradona repeated the feat 13 times but Lineker recounts: "I remember going to training the next day at Barcelona and 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 just never seen anyone have such a beautiful affection with a football."

Lineker, who earned the Golden Boot at the 1986 World Cup won by Argentina, also explained just how difficult Maradona's goal of the century against England was considering the incredibly poor state of the Azteca pitch in Mexico.

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"He was just unplayable," says Lineker who admitted it was the only time he almost felt like applauding a goal scored against his side.

The pair were rivals in that game, where Maradona also scored his infamous hand of God goal before Lineker's late consolation made the final scoreline 2-1 to Argentina. But they later shared a warm relationship off the pitch.

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Lineker visited Maradona in Argentina for a BBC documentary and attended a Boca Juniors game with him, which he says was an unforgettable experience.

Few people, then, are better placed to pay both a personal and a footballing tribute to Argentina's great No 10 - and Lineker delivered something incredibly powerful.

All imagery: BT Sport/PA Images

Topics: Gary Lineker, Football News, Maradona, Football, Diego Maradona, Argentina, World Cup

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Alex Reid

Alex Reid is a writer at SPORTbible who’s previously strung words together for FourFourTwo, Boxing News, The Guardian and, yes, Cruise International (it’s about big ships, not Tom). Interests range from football and boxing to real sports like WWE and darts. He is not a cage fighter.