Pumas to fight like the big fan who 'stopped' All Blacks game

Sports | REUTERS 27 Nov 2020

Argentina rugby players will honor Diego Maradona in their Tri-Nations Test against New Zealand tomorrow by trying to match his passion for playing for the country, coach Mario Ledesma says.

Ledesma met Maradona on several occasions and said the football icon was a big Pumas fan.

"He would watch tennis, hockey, rugby, football, whenever there was an Argentina jersey he was there and he was an example of how to represent that jersey," Ledesma said. "He epitomized a lot of the way the Argentinians are. We'll try to remember him the best way possible, on the field representing the colors."

Ledesma recalled one occasion when Maradona appeared in the stands during a match against New Zealand.

"The world stopped when he was there, he had a kind of magic," the coach said. "The game had started and Diego came out and he raised his arms and everything stopped. We Argentinians all stopped and looked up, and the All Blacks stopped."

Ledesma said the impact of Maradona's death had been felt more acutely by the team staff, who remembered Maradona as a player.

"He gave a lot of happiness to a lot of people in difficult times," he recalled. "He went from very little and became the king of the world and that gives hope to a lot of Argentinians who are struggling."

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