Italy legend Dino Zoff explains why nobody can compare to Diego Armando Maradona, not even Pele. ‘He was an unsolvable problem for goalkeepers.’
Zoff saw the greatest players in the world up close on his way to winning the 1982 World Cup, the culmination of a long career at the age of 40.
“Maradona was the greatest of all time, the most memorable artist,” Zoff told La Repubblica newspaper.
“I always envied artists, because they create. I was a goalkeeper, so it was my job to stifle that creativity, but I could tell some art simply illuminated all around it.
“An artist does not behave like a mere mortal and Diego was the greatest artist I have ever seen on a football pitch. Pele might’ve been a more complete player, but he wasn’t as creative, didn’t have that spark of madness that belongs to great artists. Pele was great, but he wasn’t Diego.”
Zoff also revealed a fascinating anecdote about what training with Maradona was like.
“He was almost always an unsolvable problem for goalkeepers. My friend Luciano Castellini, who was Diego’s teammate at Napoli, told me that in training Maradona would reach the edge of the area juggling the ball on his head, then kick it up as high as possible and when it came down, he’d volley it with his shoulder on target. You had to try and save it, because this was a genuine shot on goal, hard and at an angle, but done with his shoulder.
“His teammates loved him, because he gave them confidence and also never just let them work hard on his behalf. They would think, let’s hang in there and he’ll get us to victory.”