IT ALWAYS amazed me when anyone said of Diego Maradona: “Yes, he was a great player but what would he be like in the modern game?”
I’ll tell you what he’d have been like… if he was unplayable back then, he’d have been absolutely untouchable now.
Anyone who questions if Diego — or Pele, George Best, any of the greats from back then — could cut it these days really has no idea.
This wasn’t a time when the slightest touch meant a foul and probably a yellow card as well. It was a time of anything goes.
To any younger ones who didn’t see him play, I’d tell them to get their hands on as many videos of Maradona as they can and then ask themselves the same question.
Look at the amazing things he could do with a ball, of course. But as much as anything, look at the tackles he had to put up with, too.
I say tackles, but some of them would have made you wince if they’d been in a wrestling ring.
Waist high, scything, studs-up challenges, defenders putting the boot in every time Diego came close. It was X-rated, scary stuff.
And it was every game he played.
But Diego would just get on with it, he’d ride the tackles and could give as good as he got.
He wasn’t just brilliant, he was tough as well.
For me, there’s never been the slightest doubt whether Diego or Pele would cut it now — more whether the likes of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo could have done it back then.
As far as who’s the greatest, I’ll always be split between Maradona or Pele.
And just so thankful we got to see them both play.
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