DIEGO MARADONA's passing happened a year ago this week. One of football's greatest ever players defined a generation of footballers with his goal against England in 1986. To this day he is held up in the highest regards with his footballing peers. He also made an appearance to Ireland in his career.
Maradona turned up at Lansdowne Road 41 years ago as a skinny 19-year-old. He would go on to do great things with the national team, but the journey to Ireland was the start of his career in 1980.
The playmaker hadn't made the Argentina squad for the 1978 world cup as his profile wasn't established yet. However, by the time Argentina set off on a European tour in 1979, he had started to become a much more familiar name and a European fan favourite.
In the European tour, the side played Italy, The Netherlands, Scotland, and the Irish. Ireland came away with a 0-0 draw at the old Lansdowne Road. Frank Stapelton gave the young Maradona a good kicking.
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) November 25, 2020
Maradona had been keeping a diary for Argentine publication El Gráfico during the tour. He detailed his time in Dublin, where he played in the second half. (h/t The National):
"They whistled our national anthem a little, though afterwards applauded our best moves. At half time, Cesar told me I was going to play and that I shouldn’t be scared. I went in very relaxed.
I want to play always, but Menotti knows what he’s doing … They hardly hit me - I just have a bruise from [Frank] Stapleton on the right leg that still hurts".
Maradona would play the Irish two more times in 1980. His Buenos Aires side played a League of Ireland XI in Argentina. Mardonna scored the winner in a 1-0 game.
The Argentines would then go to London, Dublin, and Vienna. They lost 3-1 to the English three days before they arrived at Lansdowne Road.
Maradona played the full 90 minutes, assisting the only goal of the game.
See the clip below:
40 years ago today Maradona came to town.
— KillianM2 TV Archive 📺 (@KillianM2) May 16, 2020