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'I love Leo' - Maradona denies Messi criticism

Last month Maradona was quoted as telling Fox Sports in Mexico that Messi 'is not a leader.'

Wednesday 14 November, 2018
Diego Maradona, pictured during a press conference where he was presented as the new manager of the Dorados of Sinaloa, in Culiacán, Mexico.
Diego Maradona, pictured during a press conference where he was presented as the new manager of the Dorados of Sinaloa, in Culiacán, Mexico. Foto:AP-Marco Ugarte

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Diego Maradona says he "loves" Lionel Messi and described as "false" comments attributed to him attacking his Argentine compatriot and Barcelona legend.

"Leo is a friend of mine and I'd never speak ill of a friend," Maradona assured Spanish sports newspaper Marca on Wednesday.

Last month Maradona was quoted as telling Fox Sports in Mexico that Messi "is not a leader... it's useless to try and make a leader out of someone who goes to the bathroom 20 times before a game."

He told Marca that "all that was false."

"All I said was that Leo is a phenomenon. And that there were players who go to the toilet 20 times, but I never made any reference to Leo," he insisted.

Maradona implored his fellow countryman to return to the national side after sitting out three friendlies since the Albiceleste's group-stage elimination from this summer's World Cup in Russia.

"I think he should return, because if not, we are in a pickle."

Maradona, who led Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup, is currently in Mexico coaching second-division Sinaloa.

- AFP

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