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Diego Maradona was the greatest – but could have been even better without demons

Diego Maradona was the greatest player I’ve ever seen – and he could have been even greater without having to battle his demons.

I know how hard it is to do that. I’ve fought my addictions all my life. But I was never under the sort of pressure Maradona was.

He was his country’s brightest star. And he won them the World Cup. He could do things I’d never seen anyone do before.

And he was playing at that level, with all the demons he had to battle. Imagine what he could have done without that eating away at him all his life.

To do what he did, and deal with all the things he had to deal with, is mindblowing. I’ve been there and I know how hard it is to fight your demons. It takes a toll.

It was a sad day when I heard he’d died. He is my favourite player. I used to watch him all the time growing up.

Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona, wearing a diamond earring, balances a soccer ball on his head as he walks off the practice field following the national selection’s 22 May 1986 practice session in Mexico City. (Photo credit should read JORGE DURAN/AFP via Getty Images)

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He’s the reason I’m so one-footed and never learned to use my left foot properly!

I watched him and thought: “If the greatest player in the world only ever touches the ball with one foot, why shouldn’t I?” But his left foot was world class.

There are not too many sports people in the world who are genuine icons. There’s Pele, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Ali… and there’s Diego Maradona. Everybody knows him for one reason or another.

People talk about Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. But have they ever won the World Cup? It’s not like they haven’t had enough chances – and they’ve both been to the finals with teams who were fancied to win it.

You have to remember, when Maradona played, the pitches were awful and you were allowed to kick people.

Do we have a Butcher of Bilbao now? Of course…

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