The two Socceroos Maradona praised and swapped jerseys with
Argentinian superstar Diego Maradona heaped praise on Socceroos Robbie Slater and Paul Wade after their FIFA World Cup play-off at the Sydney Football Stadium.
A stand-out performance from Slater last night didn’t go unnoticed after he was singled out and praised by Maradona after the full time whistle before they exchanged shirts in the change rooms shortly afterwards.
“He wanted to swap jerseys with me because he said I was a good player and that I had a good game,” Slater said.
“He then gave me a kiss on the cheek. I will never wash my face again.”
Maradona’s wife Claudia was by her husband’s side as the pair exchanged their jerseys and was intrigued by Slater’s Australian tracksuit top.
So, they proceeded to swap their tracksuit tops as well.
Praise for the Socceroos midfielder didn’t only come from Maradona, with Argentina coach Alfio Basile also acknowledging his contribution on the pitch.
“Slater had a great match, particularly in the first half he was fairly outstanding,” Basile said.
“He attacked and defended for 90 minutes.”
Slater was honoured by the coach’s praises, he said: “I take what Basile said about me as a huge compliment.”
“I thought I played a good game and Australia can be proud of us. Argentina are one of the world’s best teams.
“It was a great result and a very, very hard match. We were not scared of them.
“We played some great football.”
Argentina’s liaison officer Roberto Viera, relayed Maradona’s thoughts about the Socceroos following their 1-1 stalemate in which he also praised Wade.
“Maradona was very impressed with Robbie Slater and his marker Paul Wade, he thought both players were tough but fair,” Viera said.
Socceroos captain Wade also revealed that he received a jersey from Maradona after waiting outside the Argentinian dressing room following the game.
When Wade approached the Argentina captain immediately after the final whistle, he was disappointed to find out the shirt had already been promised to Slater – but that did not stop Wade from getting his way in the end.
"I had walked around him for 90 minutes, I wasn't going to let him go without getting his shirt," he remembered.
"So, I went and stood outside their dressing room and just waited.
"Fortunately, somebody went in, got it and brought it out."
Maradona felt a tweak in his hamstring at the beginning of the second half but Viera believes that shouldn’t affect him ahead of the return leg in Buenos Aires on November 17.
“He is confident that he hasn’t pulled a muscle. He carried on playing in the second half despite struggling to move freely,” Viera said.
“Maradona and the world press were happy with his international comeback.
“We will see an even fitter and stronger Maradona in the second leg at River Plate Stadium.”
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