Maradona proclaims Messi as his successor
Updated: 2006-02-25 14:52
LONDON, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Diego Maradona is proclaiming Barcelona's Lionel
Messi as his true successor.
"I have seen the player who will inherit my place in Argentine football and
his name is Messi," Argentina's 1986 World Cup-winning captain was quoted a
saying on Friday.
"Messi is the best player in the world, along with Ronaldinho. I see him as
very similar to me," Maradona told the BBC referring also to Barcelona's
Maradona was speaking after 18-year-old Messi's brilliant display for
Barcelona against Chelsea in their Champions League match at Stamford Bridge on
The teenager was far from overawed in a game between two of the best club
sides in the world and played a big part in Barcelona's 2-1 victory.
The Spanish sports media on Thursday hailed Messi's coming of age in the
round of 16 match, the opening leg of the rivals' first knockout round tie.
"He's a leader and is offering lessons in beautiful football. He has
something different to any other player in the world," Maradona said.
Argentine Football Association president Julio Grondona was also full of
praise for Messi and said Messi reminded him of the young Maradona who burst on
to the Argentine scene 30 years ago.
"Messi is brilliant, different, with a strong mentality. Let's hope he
doesn't change," Grondona told an Argentine radio station on Thursday.
He said watching Messi reminded him of Maradona inspiring Argentina to
victory in the 1979 World Youth Cup in Japan.
"He's playing at the level of Diego in 1979 and a bit more," Grondona said.
Maradona, already a teenage senior international, was overlooked by coach
Cesar Luis Menotti for the Argentine team that won the 1978 World Cup.
Messi, on the other hand, is expected to follow his central role in
Argentina's fifth World Youth Cup success in the Netherlands last year by
featuring for his country at the World Cup in Germany starting in four months'