Diego Maradona knew how to captivate an audience and he had an entire bus full of Republic of Ireland internationals cheering him on from their coach in 1988.
On the eve of a World Cup qualifier against Spain, Jack Charlton took his Ireland side to Seville and had the chance to train in the stadium to get a feel for the pitch.
After Ireland’s training session came to an end, the players headed back to the bus to return to their hotel.
That’s when the enigmatic figure of Diego Maradona emerged from the dressing room to go through his paces with just a coach and a bag of balls.
Republic of Ireland legend Ray Houghton recalled the sight of Maradona and how his Ireland teammates, as well as Charlton, couldn’t help but applaud the Argentine legend as he pulled off some magic on the training pitch.
“I never played against him but I’ll tell you a quick story,” Houghton started on talkSPORT.
“In 1988, we went to train at Sevilla’s training ground, before we played Spain.”
“We were all banging on the windows of the coach (applauding his free-kicks.)”
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) November 25, 2020
“Playing for the Republic of Ireland in 1988, we were playing against Spain and Diego was at Sevilla at the time. We went to their training ground to train the night before we were going to play against Spain and he was there after us.
“The floodlights are on because it’s the evening and we’ve trained so are getting back on the bus.
“Out comes Maradona and his personal coach with a bag of balls and he was taking free kicks from 20 yards out.
“His trainer had his arms up between the crossbar and the post and Maradona was nutmegging his hands with the ball time after time after time.
“To me, that just showed his dedication, his passion and his love for the game. It shone through.
“And every player, Jack Charlton included, we were all on the bus watching him and we were all banging on the windows of the coach, just applauding him, just to see someone of that quality doing what he was doing.
“That’s my abiding memory of him. I’ve not seen him play live or played against him but to see what he did that evening will live with me forever.”