Diego Maradona dies: Luis Milla remembers training with 'great'

By Sacha Pisani 26 November 2020 16
Diego Maradona dies: Luis Milla remembers training with 'great'

Luis Milla recalled fond memories of training and playing with Argentina and Napoli great Diego Maradona at LaLiga powerhouse Barcelona.

Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata head coach Maradona – arguably football's greatest ever player – died at the age of 60 after a suspected heart attack, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) confirmed on Wednesday.

Maradona was discharged from hospital a fortnight ago following brain surgery, having undergone a routine operation for a subdural haematoma after being admitted to hospital due to concerns over anaemia and dehydration.

Maradona had the best years of his club career in Italy, playing a massive part in Napoli winning the Serie A title in the 1986-87 and 1989-90 seasons, having arrived from Barca in 1984.

The World Cup winner celebrated three trophies during his time at Camp Nou, where he claimed Copa del Rey, Copa de la Liga and Supercopa de Espana glory in 1983.

Former team-mate Milla, who emerged from Barca's youth team in 1984 and went on to represent the Catalan giants before joining bitter rivals Real Madrid in 1990, hailed Maradona.

"When he was there [at Barca], I was playing in the youth team and [Cesar Luis] Menotti, who was the main coach then used to organise matches every Thursday between the first team and a selection of players from the academy," Milla, who also faced Maradona during his time at Sevilla, told Stats Perform News.

"We played many games against the first team. For me, having at that at 18 years old, you can imagine the dream of playing against Maradona. Then when he came back to Spain, I also played against him when I was a Real Madrid player.

"We who belong to his era and also younger players have seen his football. Someone that has been able to win a World Cup in the way that he did, and be so important for that national team, he was so great, even though I believe that he could has been better in terms of performing if you look at his talent and peaks."

Maradona, who went on to coach his country at the 2010 World Cup, had been hospitalised just days after turning 60.

He appeared in a fragile state when he briefly made an appearance as his Gimnasia side played a match on the evening of his birthday last month.

Maradona won 91 caps for Argentina between 1977 and 1994, scoring 34 goals at international level.

He started his career with Argentinos Juniors before joining Boca Juniors and went on to play for Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell's Old Boys before returning to Boca in 1995.

Maradona also had stints in charge of Textil Mandiyu, Racing Club, Al-Wasl, Fujairah and Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico before being appointed by Gimnasia last year.

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