Diego Maradona: The Dubai Years podcast – The rival at Barcelona, the leader at Boca, and the 5-aside firebrand

Insight from some of the people who knew best the colourful Argentine during his time in the Emirates

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Diego Maradona is, for many, the greatest footballer to have ever played the game. So what made him so good?

In 1982, when aged 22, he moved from Boca Juniors to Barcelona for a world-record $7.6 million fee.

During his two years at Camp Nou, Maradona was a constant thorn in the side of arch-rivals Real Madrid, even helping Barcelona defeat the old enemy in the 1983 Copa del Rey final.

He would spend two spells at Boca, returning in 1995 following an ignominious exit from the World Cup the previous summer. Two years later, he brought down the curtain on his professional career with a 2-1 victory away to bitter rivals River Plate.

That wasn’t technically when Maradona hung up his boots, though. In 2011, he arrived in the UAE to manage Al Wasl, and was a regular on the 5-aside or 7-aside pitch. Apparently, he treated those games as anything but recreational.

In Episode 3 of our podcast series looking at the Maradona's time in the country, hosts Paul Radley and John McAuley speak to a former opponent at Real Madrid, an ex-teammate at Boca, and even a close friend who was tasked with organising the weekly “friendly” matches in Dubai.

True to form, they attest to the fact the World Cup winner could be a handful on and off the pitch.