Welcome to a new series of articles from Last Word on Football. Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at the transfers, sackings, appointments and more that almost happened in football, changing the game we all know and love.

Today, we look back to the time when Argentina legend Diego Maradona almost joined Sheffield United.

It Almost Happened: Maradona Joins Sheffield United

The Birth of a Legend

As one of the greatest footballers in history, Maradona’s career has been thoroughly studied over the years. From his legendary performances in the 1986 World Cup to his heroics at Napoli, his story is familiar to most football enthusiasts.

However, like most footballers, this football journey started long before his eventual rise to stardom. As an eight-year-old, El Diego’s performances earned him a spot at Las Cebollitas (The Little Onions), a junior team that went on a 141-game unbeaten streak and won two national tournaments.

Read More: It Almost Happened: Diego Maradona Signs For Sunderland

In 1976, Maradona started his senior career by making a debut for Argentinos Junior. Two years later, the Lanus-born teenager was already attracting interest from a number of elite Brazilian clubs. However, a second-division English side was the first to provide him with a chance to continue his career abroad.

Sheffield United Had an Agreement for Maradona

Argentina became a favourite scouting destination for European clubs after their first World Cup title in 1978. Harry Haslam, who was Sheffield United’s manager at the time, went on a scouting mission to the country later that year and nearly signed one of the greatest players of all time.

Haslam was initially eyeing moves for Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa but was priced out by Tottenham for both players. He then reached an agreement to sign Maradona on a £200,000 deal. However, the move fell through soon after Argentina’s military junta found out about it.

READ ALSO  Wimbledon 2022 Tennis Live Watch Online Free Game

Read More: Football’s Biggest Controversies: Hand Of God

According to Sheffield United historian John Garrett (via Yorkshire Live), a member of the military junta met Haslam in his hotel room, demanding an additional £150,000 to allow Maradona’s transfer. The incident convinced Haslam to call off the move, especially because he didn’t want to get involved in politics.

Only a year later, Sheffield was relegated to the third division, and Alex Sabella, who was signed instead of Maradona on that trip to Argentina, was offloaded to Leeds United.

Other Great Stars Linked With Sheffield United

Maradona came very close to joining Sheffield United in 1978, but he is not the only football star to have been linked with the Blades.

Paul Gascoigne was a reported target for Sheffield United after his fantastic performances in Euro 1996 but their offer was rejected by Glasgow Rangers.

A year later, Dave Basset made an attempt to bring Chris Waddle to the club on a free transfer. However, it was later revealed that the then 36-year-old was still under contract at Bradford.

But Sheffield’s biggest transfer regret since their failed attempt to sign Maradona concerns Didier Drogba. Before his move to Chelsea, the Ivorian star was on offer to Sheffield United for only £100,000. Neil Warnock, who rejected the idea of signing Drogba from Le Mans, has called the decision his “biggest loss”.

Post Views: 1

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *