The extraordinary impact that Diego Maradona had on so many lives is obvious for all to see.
With the world still in mourning and disbelief at the legendary Argentinian's tragic death, countless stories are emerging of one of the greatest players of all time.
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Some of the most amazing words about the 1986 World Cup winner have come from England rival Gary Lineker, who was on the losing side in the infamous 'Hand of God' quarter-final at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.
Despite his heartbreak at England's controversial defeat, Lineker formed a close friendship with Maradona in the years that followed.
The England great paid a wonderful tribute to Maradona on BT Sport - where he works as a football pundit - after hearing the horrible news of his friend’s passing.
"He had such an incredible passion for the game."
"I've never seen anyone have such a beautiful affection with a football."
A heartfelt tribute from @GaryLineker to the one and only Diego Maradona...
And a lovely story that sums up his genius ❤️ pic.twitter.com/ztAhYyNFIs
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 25, 2020
Among the extraordinary praise from Lineker about a man he regards as the greatest of all time, are some incredible stories about his incomparable talent.
One of the most unbelievable - even by Lineker's admission - came during an exhibition game where the England great played alongside Maradona in a Rest of the World side.
“There were players like Platini on the pitch. Everyone was totally in awe of (Maradona),” said Lineker.
“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? He did that and just juggled them on his left foot for about five minutes.
“Then we went out on the pitch and he did something incredible, one of the most unbelievable things I‘ve ever seen on a football pitch.
“He juggled the ball all the way out to the centre circle and then bang, he whacked it as hard he possibly could (up into the air) and waited. It came down and he did it again. He did it 13 times. The most he ever did was walk three paces to it.
“All of us were standing there going, ‘That’s impossible’. I remember going to training the next day at Barcelona. We all tried it and the best anyone did was three, and they were all running for the third one.
“I‘ve never seen anyone have such a beautiful affection for a football.”
Brilliant in its simplicity. Lineker is like a kid in awe of Maradona. He takes us right back to those moments.
— Niall Murphy (@Niall___Murphy) November 25, 2020
Lineker so animated in his recollection of Maradona. Lovely to see. A good egg, Gary.
— Wirral Cycling Guru (@Cycling_Guru) November 25, 2020
Lovely from @garylineker. I remember being wowed as a kid watching Maradona on TV in 1986 WC final vs W/Germany. I've long resisted default Messi v Ronaldo GOAT debate, feeling that downplayed both Pele & Maradona. As Lineker notes, Maradona was unreal in a much tougher era too.
— Craig Sisterson (@craigsisterson) November 25, 2020
Brilliant tribute from @GaryLineker - these moments where footballers of a high calibre were in awe of him, makes you realise how good Maradona must have been. On another note, always really enjoy listening to Lineker talking, I wish sometimes he was a pundit rather than host https://t.co/dcDKT7EsI8
— Saint Alastair (@Saint_Alastair) November 25, 2020
‘An incredible passion for the game’
Lineker's beautiful tribute - which has well over four million views on social media - also includes a wonderful tale about the Argentinian's unbridled love of the beautiful game.
The former England striker says he was invited to join Maradona and his family to watch a match in a private box at the Argentinian's beloved Boca Juniors club.
So passionate was Maradona about the game and his childhood club that his own daughter had to hold him back as he leant excitedly over the rails of the stands.
“He‘s so revered, he’s so worshipped in Argentina,” Lineker said on BT Sport. “He constantly had a huge entourage around him.
“I went to see Boca Juniors play. He had his own little box. I went with his family. The atmosphere was unbelievable at this game.
“One of his daughters was literally holding him as he was screaming over the balcony, holding him so he wouldn‘t fall off. He had such an incredible passion for the game.”
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