Diego Maradona, love him or hate him, has been one of the most influential figures in the world of football, since the late 70’s. He had a roller-coaster career on and off the pitch and left his personal signature all across the world. Fate led him to the United Arab Emirates in 2011 and that was when I felt it would be my only chance to meet him.
I always dreamed of meeting him, and on 14 May 2011 I got the news that he will be at Al Wasl Club – Dubai, visiting his future employers for the first time. I was there upon his entrance and I only managed to ‘touch’ him and then see him from far away. While seemingly everyone in the UAE managed to meet him I was left waiting my chance.
Upon the announcement of his participation in the Dubai International Sports Conference on 28 December 2012, I got geared up and went there to seek another ‘real’ chance of meeting him. He entered the conference hall and people went crazy trying to reach him. Again, I couldn’t.
By the time the conference was over and while everyone left the hotel – where it was held at, I went roaming the halls and rooms just to kill time before I get my car and leave, too. The hotel was almost empty when it happened: I crossed paths with Diego Maradona. I saluted him and he replied. I asked him to give me the honor of taking a picture with him and his answer was ‘yes, in a minute’, while he kept on walking to a private VIP room. I followed him and entered the same room. He was already sitting there smoking his cigar and accompanied by a bodyguard and a PR person. I saluted him again and asked him for the picture. He stood up while I passed the camera to the person in the room. I then hugged Diego and kissed him thanking him for being part of my life. While I was leaving the room, I heard him singing so I went back in. The PR person was filming him while singing and I started singing with him and jumping like I kid. When he was done singing, I started a conversation on how important he is for my whole existence. We talked about my love for him and how football is life while he gladly started signing some pictures of his triumph in Mexico ‘86. Moments later, his car arrived and he excused himself and left to the gala dinner by Globe Soccer.
I may not be able to express my feelings by just writing about the meeting, but those were 10 of the craziest and happiest minutes of my life and a dream that came true.
NOTE: The 7th Dubai International Sports Conference was held on 28 and 29 December 2012, at the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai. Famous footballing names were present among which were: Bruno Metsu, Michel Salgado, Jorge Mendes, Rob Jansen, Michel Platini, Jose Mourinho, Fabio Capello, Miguel Angel Gil Marin, Alexandre ‘Sandro’ Rosell, Eric Abidal, Radamel Falcao, and obviously Diego Maradona. You can check some of the photos from the conference and my Maradona’s autographs on the Facebook Page here.