Paul Gascoigne has shared his wonderful experiences of accidentally meeting - and also playing against - Diego Maradona.
England magician Gazza explained that he just missed facing Maradona, who died aged 60 on Wednesday, in Serie A. Gascoigne signed for Lazio in 1992, a year after Argentine genius Maradona had left Napoli, but they met later without Gazza even realising it at first.
"At a charity game, I remember I wanted a lighter and I'd seen a little fella outside with a hat on and a big long cigar," Gascoigne said on Good Morning Britain.
"I just went up from behind him and said: 'Can I borrow your lighter please?' And he turned round, it was Diego - so I started laughing. I shared a bit of cigar with him and we clicked then, you know?"
Lovely tribute paid by Gazza to Maradona
"Obviously I spoke to him to in Italian because he didn't speak English and neither do I" :smile:pic.twitter.com/97w6UtSmwr
- nazir afzal (@nazirafzal) November 26, 2020
The two played in that charity game together - but their first meeting on the pitch came when Gascoigne was still at Lazio and Maradona, towards the end of his career, was with Spanish side Sevilla.
The two clubs played in a friendly and Gazza confessed: "On the flight, I had a couple of drinks and in the tunnel, I went to Diego: 'Diego, I'm tipsy.' He went, "It's OK, Gazza - so am I'"
"So I went out and beat about four players, scored a goal - and I looked at him and said: 'Beat that.' Obviously I spoke to him in Italian, because he doesn't speak English - and neither do I..."
"But I think I said the wrong thing! Because after that he was unbelievable; magic. What a player. My icon is Bryan Robson - but around the world Diego was just a phenomenal footballer."
It's clear that Gazza - like his friend Gary Lineker - doesn't hold any animosity towards Maradona for his actions in 1986. That World Cup saw Maradona's Argentina knock out England thanks to Diego's genius and, of course, an infamous handball. Gascoigne starred in England's 1990 World Cup team, but was too young for '86.
One man who has never quite got over the handball is Peter Shilton, who was also being interviewed on Good Morning Britain. Gazza took a playful dig at the ex-England goalkeeper on air.
"I know a lot of people go on about the hand of God," said Gascoigne. "It made Peter Shilton anyway! Shilts, it made you that goal"
Cue laughter from Gascoigne and Shilton replying: "Thanks for that Gazza. I did play for another 20 years on after that...".
Gazza teasing Shilton as he pays homage to Argentina's iconic No 10; you have to say Maradona would've been absolutely delighted with such a tribute.
All imagery: PA Images/ITV/Twitter
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