Maradona makes Rio's day
Maradona presented Rio Ferdinand with a signed shirt for his 30th birthday.
By Richard Bailey
Last Updated: 07/11/08 3:31pm
Diego Maradona paid a visit to Manchester United's training ground on Friday to present Rio Ferdinand with a signed shirt especially for his 30th birthday.
The new Argentina boss has flown to Europe to catch a glimpse of his star players including Liverpool's Javier Mascherano and United's Carlos Tevez in the flesh before he names his first squad.
It is not often that United's superstars are lost for words but that was the case when the man many people believe was the greatest ever to play the game paid a visit.
Ferdinand insists that the shirt was the best present he could have wished for and admitted Maradona was the one of the reasons he began playing football.
He said: "We were like school kids around a star coming to school. In my eyes he is the best footballer ever. He is one of my heroes if not the shining beacon when I was a kid.
"I had all his videos. He was the player everyone wanted to be. He was the best. He was my idol and part of the reason why I started to play football.
"I can't hold him in higher esteem than that. To be able to shake his hand, get a cuddle off him and a picture, it made my birthday."
It wasn't just Ferdinand who was excited to meet Maradona as he explained that training was that bit more competitive with the Argentine watching on from the sidelines.
He added: "I think the gaffer would probably like him to come everyday the way he raised standards in training.
"Everyone was trying to impress him. I hope he will go back to Argentina and say he's seen a great player - Rio Ferdinand."
Sir Alex Ferguson can understand the reaction of his players.
He said: "It was good. The players were all delighted to see him. It is arguable who is the best player in the world but without a doubt, he is in the best two or three."