Lambert: Maradona the Best of My Lifetime
Friday, 27th Nov 2020 11:10
Town boss Paul Lambert has hailed Diego Maradona, who died on Wednesday aged 60, as the greatest player of his lifetime.
Lambert, then aged nine, saw the Argentinian playing against a Scotland team featuring John Wark and George Burley when he was first breaking into his national side aged 18 in 1979, a game the South Americans 3-1 with Maradona netting the third goal.
“I was fortunate, I saw him, Lambert said. “My dad took me to Hampden to watch him in 1979. He was a young kid playing.
“He was an absolute phenomenon and anyone that understands football, anyone that’s played the game or analysed it [knows that]. In my lifetime, will I ever see that again? I don’t think so.
“The closest I’ve ever seen is Lionel Messi. But Maradona, dear oh dear, what a player. You wouldn’t get near him.
“I remember talking to Jurgen Kohler and Julio Cesar, two unbelievable centre-backs in my time at Dortmund, the best centre-backs I’d ever played with, guys that won Serie A titles and everything going, World Cups, and I remember asking them what it was like.
“And they were saying that the best striker was Marco Van Basten at that time but the best all-rounder was Maradona. Some of the stories they told, you couldn’t have wished to see a better player in the world.
“Really, really sad, but, my God, what a player. He was a phenomenon. Everybody said it. Dear oh dear. Put it this way, I wouldn’t have liked to play against him, that’s for sure.”
Recalling the game against Scotland, he added: “I remember it, my dad took my to Hampden that day. I watched it and, dear oh dear, I don’t know what game Maradona was playing, it certainly wasn’t football, that’s for sure. You couldn’t do what he was doing.
“How he played the game, he wanted to make people look at him and think he was the best in the world, I don’t think that will ever be bettered, not in my lifetime. The closest I’ve ever seen is Lionel Messi, who is a phenomenon himself. But Maradona, dear oh dear, that’s sad.
“You look at the scenes at the funeral, that shows you how much he meant to people, not just in Argentina, Brazil, everywhere. South America, you see it, it’s huge. That’s another game that he was playing.”
Did seeing Maradona in action spark his interest in football? “I started with my boys’ club team when I was seven so obviously I that instinct. I never knew I was going to be a footballer or never knew what path my life was going to go.
“My mum and dad got me into football at a really young age, and I just went with that. My dad always took me to games and I was fortunate enough to go to Hampden and see the Scotland-Argentina game. Then your own career just goes the way it goes. I was lucky and I had a good career.”
Was Maradona the best of all-time? “I was obviously a bit young, but I saw Johan Cryuff playing live when he was at Feyenoord so I was fortunate to see him. Alfredo Di Stefano and people like that I’ve only seen on videos and things like that.
“I don’t think you can ever compare eras or anything like that. But just looking at my lifetime, the greatest player was Maradona.
“You’ve probably all seen the warm-up he’s done to Live is Life. His laces are undone, he’s got his jacket tied up. He’s balancing the ball on his head as if to say ‘I think I’ll turn up today and win today’.
“And that’s an incredible talent to have. When you look at that, I don’t think you can compare [eras] but in my lifetime, only in my eyes, for me he’s the greatest there’s ever been. In my lifetime I don’t think we’ll it ever again.”
Photo: Action Images
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