Diego Maradona, a footballing icon, has passed away at the age of 60.
The Argentinian is fondly remembered as one of the best ever to do it, perhaps the GOAT. He’s a well-revered face in Scottish football after crushing England’s World Cup hopes in glorious fashion.
So much so that when Maradona came to Hampden in 2010 as Argentina manager, he received huge applause from the Tartan Army when his face appeared on screen.
It’s one of Maradona’s several connections to Scottish football – but mind that time he nearly moved to Dundee?
The nearly Maradona switch
The year 2000 brought about times like no other at Dens Park. There was serious ambition and serious names brought to the club, former European Cup finalist Ivano Bonetti arriving as player-manager.
Was he particularly experienced as a boss? No. Did he know Scottish football? No. Did he bring a bit of excitement to Tayside? Absolutely and the big transfer fund he was given certainly increased this hype.
Dundee started off the campaign with an XI made up of players from across Europe as they looked for an assault up the table. Striker had been an issue for them so a superstar from Argentina was called upon.
No, it’s not Maradona quite yet. Claudio Cannigia was persuaded to come to Dens Park by good friend Bonetti, the pair playing together in Italy with Hellas Verona. A former Argentine international was playing up front for Dundee.
Lots more eyes were focusing on Dundee’s flutter with stardust, a match with Dunfermline even broadcast over in Argentina. But the name Maradona had always been in the background after Cannigia’s arrival.
The forward had signed a two-and-a-half year deal at Dens and soon enough Maradona was announced, albeit in a friendly match against Napoli. The icon would step foot in Tayside.
“In relation to continuing speculation in the media,” the club said in a statement at the time. “Dundee Football Club can confirm there was recent correspondence between Diego Maradona, his representatives and Dundee Football Club that outlined both parties’ desire for Maradona to play for Dundee in a one-off glamour friendly.
“We hope we are in a position to settle upon further details, such as a date, time and place for the game within the next few days. But it is looking increasingly likely that any match involving Maradona (and Dundee FC) will take place at Dens Park.”
Dundee, already encapsulated by one of their football teams spending big, managed to go into overdrive. It looked signed, sealed and delivered as Maradona was set to leave receiving treatment for cocaine addiction in Cuba for Dens Park.
Of course, all hell broke loose as Maradona made his way to Tayside. His agreement was said to have arrived via fax but the man himself didn’t. Stopping off in Italy before heading to Dundee, Rome’s Fiumicino airport had him greeted by police.
He was wanted for an investigation into alleged tax fraud of around £16.6m. Maradona decided to then go out into the early hours of the night partying, saying the next day Napoli director Corrado Ferlaino, who he was going to discuss business with, had ‘betrayed’ him.
A match in Tayside was left in ruins and soon after Cannigia would leave for Rangers. Bonetti and co would last another year before Dundee hit administration in 2003.
We can only dream of the images of Maradona dazzling Dens Park, his brilliance enough to leave you in awe, even on a bad day.