Diego Maradona: PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino explains what he learned from footballing legend

Former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino on the touchline

Mauricio Pochettino has revealed that he learned about the importance of humility and respect through his interactions with Diego Maradona.

The pair shared a room together during their time at Newell’s Old Boys, with Pochettino in the early stages of his career, while Maradona was at the twilight of his iconic playing days.

During an appearance last year on the High Performance Podcast – which GIVEMESPORT has an exclusive partnership with – Pochettino was asked about what he learned from his short time with Maradona, who sadly passed away last year at the age of 60.

Rather than focusing on Maradona’s outstanding footballing ability, Pochettino claimed that he picked up on other qualities that the World Cup winner possessed.

Pochettino said: “I think this day, what I learned from, it’s not about football. Because he was a senior. It was about how simple he was, huge personality, the best player in the world. How humble he was, and the spirit of that he was like a guardian of, or protecting the spirit of the game.

“The football is collective, and how he respects his team mate. I think that was the most important thing that I learned from him. He was playing for him, but more for, to try to help the team to win. I was lucky to share with him six months, but every single teammate that he has all talk in the same way.”

Some may be surprised by Pochettino’s comments. After all, Maradona was no stranger to controversial incidents throughout his career. He famously punched the ball into the net against England in the 1986 World Cup before stating that the ‘Hand of God’ had helped him score the goal. 

Eight years later, he was sent home from the 1994 World Cup after failing a drugs test. These moments could suggest a lack of respect for the game on his part.

Yet Pochettino appears to be alluding to how Maradona’s positives far outweighed his negatives, and that he deserves to be remembered as a great footballer who always tried his best and never got too big for his boots. He insists that’s how his former teammates think of him.

Looking back, Pochettino may have a point. From winning two Serie A titles with Napoli, to scoring that stunning solo goal against England just minutes after his ‘Hand of God’ moment on the way to Argentina’s World Cup triumph, Maradona delivered some truly unforgettable moments.

It seems that the Argentine public felt they could relate to Maradona, and that can be put down to his humility and respect for those around him. This demonstrates that high performance does not have to be achieved through sheer single-mindedness – it can be attained whilst playing with a smile on your face and embracing the fans, just as Maradona did.

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