Jorge Ferrari: 'Maradona was kissing Roger Federer's posters before meeting him'

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Jorge Ferrari: 'Maradona was kissing Roger Federer's posters before meeting him'

Diego Armando Maradona, one of the greatest players of all time, died at home in Tigres on Wednesday at 60. The famous Argentine had undergone brain surgery several weeks ago and lost his life after a heart attack, leaving the world of football in grief.

One of the most gifted athletes led Argentine towards the 1986 World Cup crown in Mexico, pushing his teammates to bring their 100% and scoring that controversial goal against England on June 22. Diego was also a massive tennis fan, following his Davis Cup squad and appearing at the ATP Finals in London.

Diego met all the world's leading players, including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, finding time to speak with them and share his admiration and respect. Roger Federer and Diego Armando Maradona met at the 2013 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

The Argentine wanted to talk with the five-time champion Federer following his second-round win over Marcel Granollers, sharing hugs and nice words. The Argentine photograph Jorge Ferrari witnessed the encounter, speaking for Khaleej Times about an exciting gathering of two sporting legends.

Roger Federer and Diego Armando Maradona met in Dubai 2013.

"Diego came to watch Roger Federer. At the end of the match, Maradona wanted to meet Federer. We went with him through the Dubai stadium tunnel, which has all the tournament champions' pictures, and kept stopping and kissing Federer's posters.

When Roger eventually arrived there, Maradona was nearly crying. He hugged and kissed him. Maradona was really in awe of Federer. It was not like people like us meeting Federer, you know; it was Maradona meeting Federer. He was super excited, like he was some little kid meeting his idol.

We were wondering how he was still alive. We thought it was the end in 2000 when he had cocaine-induced heart failure. Knowing his history, everyone used to wonder how he was alive. Still, people were in big shock when they heard the news.

I was listening to the Argentine radio until 3 am; they said of all the famous Argentina people (Eva Peron, Che Guevara, Lionel Messi), Maradona is the most recognized Argentine ever. In the last 40-50 years, Argentina is Maradona.

I mean, he pretty much won that 1986 World Cup single-handedly. I cannot think of any other player who has had such an impact in a World Cup, not even Pele. The influence that he had in that modest Argentina team, nobody else has had, before or after.

These friends usually taunt me about the 'hand of God' goal against England. But last night, they were just respectful, with no traces of any irony in their messages. That's why I replied to one of them and said, 'You guys have the queen, and we have Maradona,'" Jorge Ferrari said.