Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson once sided with Diego Maradona over Lionel Messi when weighing in on the debate between two of the game’s greatest ever players.
Maradona’s recent passing at the age of 60 has, of course, sparked debate about his place in the pantheon of footballing greats, with the eternal comparison being with his fellow countryman Lionel Messi.
Both are undoubtedly two of the best to ever play the game, with Argentine fans getting the chance to have the footballing two icons represent their country on the international stage.
Alex Ferguson has, like so many, long been an admirer of Messi and his legendary career at both Barcelona and Argentina however he once sided with Maradona in the debate between the two.
Ferguson sat down with The Sunday Times’ sports journalist Jonathan Northcroft last year to discuss close friend, the late Scottish sportswriter Hugh McIlvanney. The Messi and Maradona debate came up in their chat.
“With rising intensity, Hugh and Graeme Souness debated whether Lionel Messi (Souness’s call) is greater than Diego Maradona (Hugh’s).
“An exasperated Souness had to finally beseech: ‘Look, I played against Maradona five times and I’m telling you — Messi.’ Hugh growled back: ‘I don’t care who you played against. It’s Diego.’
“Told of this, ‘I would side with Souness on that one,’ says Ferguson.
‘Maradona’s career at the very top was only a few years.’
“But I can imagine Hugh’s response. ‘You don’t f***ing know what you’re talking about!’
While blowing a big puff of smoke in your face, lighting another stogie and speaking with that wonderful, rasping voice.”
Maradona, of course, managed Messi during his time as manager of Argentina and the six-time Ballon d’Or winner paid tribute to his former boss in a post on Instagram.
“A very sad day for all Argentines and for football. He leaves us but does not leave, because Diego is eternal.
“I keep all the beautiful moments I lived with him and I wanted to take the opportunity to send my condolences to all his family and friends. RIP.”