Football legend Diego Maradona, said he has helped Lionel Messi to become football’s deadliest free-kick takers.
According to the ex-Argentina boss, Diego Maradona claims his guidance on the training ground helped transform a luckless Lionel Messi into one of modern football’s deadliest free-kick takers.
The legendary Maradona coached Barcelona superstar Messi during Argentina’s eventful 2010 World Cup campaign.
Maradona claims he contributed to a lot to the phenomenal height Messi has attained today, saying that, Lionel Messi may be a “phenomenon” but he needed his (Maradona) assistance to be a dead-ball star
Messi won his second Ballon d’Or that year but failed to get on the scoresheet in South Africa as the Albiceleste crashed out in the quarter-finals, losing 4-0 to Germany.
Despite Argentina’s talisman not scoring at that tournament, Maradona feels that period was when the forward was at the peak of his powers.
But the new Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata boss believes a dose of his own wisdom was needed to elevate the attacker’s dead-ball skills to the world-class level they have reached.
“Messi, in the World Cup I was in charge, all the goalkeepers [we played against] were the man of the match,” Maradona said.
“He hit all the posts. Now he can’t miss. It’s a simple story.
“I had the best Messi and nobody can tell me otherwise, because he was able to skip past up to five players. A phenomenon.
“But he had an issue with free-kicks. When we finished every training session we kept Leo behind so he could practice, and he started to hit the post. I didn’t teach him how to take a free-kick.
“Then he asked me how I was able to score.
Maradona described his advice as being simply to “hit it in the middle”.
“And he replied, ‘But I hit it in the middle and the ball goes this way or that way’, and I told him, ‘Don’t worry, you’re going to make it’,” the former Napoli favourite added.
“Now he just can’t miss.”
Messi, now 32, has forged a reputation as a feared free-kick taker, his most notable effort last season a sublime strike from beyond 25 yards against Liverpool in the Champions League semi-finals.
Maradona left his national team post after the World Cup nine years ago but has returned to his homeland to take charge of top-flight Gimnasia.