Pochettino recalls crazy Maradona: “He shot at journalists!”

Mauricio Pochettino recalled one bizarre morning when his room-mate Diego Maradona opened fire on journalists in Argentina.

After being scouted by Marcelo Bielsa’s right-hand man Jorge Griffa at the young age of 14 in 1987, Pochettino joined Newell’s Old Boys and soon broke into the first-team.

Six years later, the Argentine was already a two-time Primera Division winner and a leader of Newell’s backline.

But Newell then pulled off their biggest-ever transfer coup by signing the legendary Diego Maradona, who decided to leave La Liga side Sevilla earlier that year,

And to Pochettino’s utter astonishment, he was to share a room with Argentina’s  World Cup-winning hero on the road.

“It was incredible because I always had his photo on my bedroom wall,” said Pochettino, according to Goal.

“And then I was with him, it was tremendous.

“I remember my first night. I turned off the light and lay there trying to see if I could sleep. I couldn’t believe it, I thought I was dreaming, that it wasn’t real.”

Maradona had chosen to join Newell in an attempt to continue his comeback after receiving a 15-month ban for cocaine misuse in 1992. It forced him to leave Italian club Napoli in disgrace.

But the “Barrilete Cosmico” (Cosmic Kite) had a turbulent time at Newell with injuries and bust-ups overshadowing his time at the club.

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Nonetheless, Maradona stayed and travelled with the team over to their beach resort of Mar del Plata for pre-season.

One morning on February 2, 1994, Maradona was nowhere to be seen though until news broke out of him firing a gun at reporters 400 kilometres away from the team’s base.

“We were all together in pre-season in Mar del Plata and the day before we had shared a room,” said now-Tottenham manager Pochettino.

“That night, because he loves basketball, he had gone to see the League final. In the morning, when I woke up, he was not in his bed.”

“After breakfast, we went to train and then we came back for lunch. Still nobody knew where Diego was.

“As we ate we watched the news on television: he was shooting at journalists in Buenos Aires, 400 kilometres from where we were!”

Maradona had returned to his home in Moreno outside of Buenos Aires and woke up to find reporters and photographers at his gates. He then brought out a gun and fired at them, with six people injured in the process.

Maradona later received a suspended sentence of two years and 10 months for his actions.

The football icon’s legendary international career then came to a sad end after he was kicked out of Argentina’s 1994 World Cup team for testing positive for drugs.

Maradona’s days of club football didn’t last much longer either following another low-key spell at Boca Juniors. He eventually retired at the end of the 1997/98 season upon making just five appearances.


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