Diego Maradona was a footballing icon. The sad news that he has passed away at the age of 60 will reverberate around the world for years to come, but his legacy will live on far longer.
A larger than life personality on and off the pitch, Maradona’s breathtaking ability saw him regarded by many as one of the greatest players to grace the game.
His time at Napoli will be remembered for where he left his mark on a city, but Arsenal fans will be intrigued to learn that the Argentine came close to moving to north London at the age of 19.
Maradona was playing for Boca Juniors and a newspaper report from 1982 revealed that Arsenal was denied the move because Football Association secretary Graham Kelly ‘didn’t want foreign players from outside Europe being granted a work permit’ for two years.
Arsenal manager at the time Terry Neill has also been quoted as saying that they turned their attentions to signing Charlie Nicholas in 1983 when the Maradona move fell apart.
Maradona then moved to Barcelona before leading Napoli to two Serie A titles and guiding Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986.
“They play beautiful football. They break quickly – they defend and attack as one. I am a fan of Arsenal when I am in England,” Maradona said in 2008, confirming how the move to Highbury fell through.
“When I was 19 they tried to buy me and another player from Argentinos Juniors – around the time Ricky Villa and Ossie Ardiles signed for Tottenham.
“But it didn’t happen. I sometimes wonder what might have happened.”
Over the years Maradona has been pictured wearing Arsenal training tops, and he met the first-team squad in 2008 when he was a guest at Emirates Stadium.