By 90Min
August 20, 2017

Mauricio Pochettino says meeting Argentina legend Diego Maradona for the first time was one of the happiest moments of his life.

As a 21-year-old defender for Newell's Old Boys, Pochettino met Maradona after the attacking midfielder left former club Sevilla and opted for a move back to his homeland.

"I think I was one of the happiest people in the world when I met him for the first time," Pochettino said, as quoted by ESPN

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"Because it was a dream come true, but more than a dream. I remember it always because I loved football and Maradona. But it was more than this."

Pochettino was a big admirer of Maradona, who won the World Cup with Argentina in 1986, and remembers the experience of sharing a room with his idol being quite surreal.

He added: "We were together in the room during preseason in [Argentine coastal town] Mar del Plata. I remember one day he started shooting the journalists in Buenos Aires. The day before he was sleeping with me! He loved basketball and went to see it in Mar del Plata -- the final in the conference.

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"And then, in the morning, I woke up and he wasn't in bed. I then go to breakfast, the manager asked about him, and I said, 'No, no, no, he didn't come back to the hotel.' 

"After breakfast we went to training. Nobody knew about Diego, and at lunchtime it was breaking news on the television....Diego shoots journalists in Buenos Aires! Four hundred kilometres away! He helped his image a little bit."

Maradona had returned to his Buenos Aires home and fired an air gun at journalists from behind his car, injuring four people and later being given a suspended jail sentence for assault, resulting in Newell's Old Boys cutting ties with the former Napoli man.

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"I always keep Diego in private in my mind. I love him. I love everything about him. I knew Maradona, the real Maradona," Pochettino said. 

"We see him on the pitch, and then there is his image. Outside it was crazy. But I promise you if he arrived here and opened the door, we'd all be in love with him.

"His energy, his personality -- and he's a person that when he's with you, he makes you feel the best. He's so careful about the people around him. I learned a lot from him. He's so careful about his people."

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