Football legend, Diego Armando Maradona, has alleged that he must be given some credit for the stunning free-kick prowess of 32-year-old Argentine, Lionel Messi.
Maradona, who played at the 1986 World Cup with Argentina, claims when he was coach of the national team between 2008-2010, he spent extra hours working with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner on his set piece techniques.
The football legend, who was recently employed as the new boss of an Argentine club, Gimnasia de La Plata, told reporters:
“I coached the best, Messi, and nobody can tell me otherwise, because he was able to skip past up to five players – a phenomenon.”
“He had an issue with free-kicks. When we finished every training session, we kept Leo behind so he could practice, and he started to hit the post.
“I didn’t teach him how to take a free-kick, then he asked me how I was able to score.
“I said, ‘you just have to hit it in the middle. They aren’t going to give me an Oscar to teach you this’. And he replied, ‘but I hit it in the middle and the ball goes this way or that way’ and I told him, ‘don’t worry, you’re going to make it’. Now he just can’t miss.”
As at 2008, Messi was already a global superstar to be reckoned with. He also made it to the podium of the 2008 top 3 best players in the world, alongside, Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo. But he was still deemed lacking in some areas, like the set-piece department. He had to improve his game in those areas.
Maradona played his supposed small part in trying to help the ongoing development of Messi who would later take a place in history alongside him as an all-time great when his iconic career comes to an end.
It is comical but true to say the Argentine legend, Maradona, had passed mere words of advice to a little Messi back then. Words that could be considered a simple training ground instruction have turned to the art of set-pieces, which Messi benefited from.