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Maradona visit lifts United players

sports Updated: Nov 08, 2008 11:20 IST

Reuters
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Manchester United's players were given a lift ahead of their Premier League game against Arsenal when Diego Maradona visited them at their training ground on Friday.

The new Argentina coach is visiting clubs in England to meet up with some of the key players in his national squad.

Maradona had a conversation with United's Argentina striker Carlos Tevez but also made a big impact on the rest of Alex Ferguson's squad, including Rio Ferdinand who received a signed shirt from the 1986 World Cup winner to mark his 30th-birthday.

"We were like schoolkids really, around a star coming to school," England defender Ferdinand told reporters.

"He came and watched us train and I think the gaffer would probably like him to come every day the way he raised standards in the 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!"

Ferdinand added that Maradona had been one of his inspirations when he started to play football as a youngster in London.

"He is one of my heroes, if not the shining beacon when I was a kid. I had all his videos and he was the player everyone wanted to be," he said.

"You can't hold him in higher esteem than that so to be able to shake his hand, get a cuddle of him and a picture -- it made my birthday."

Ferguson, preparing his third-placed team to face fourth-placed Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, welcomed Maradona's visit.

"He came out and he was good. He met all the players and the players were all delighted," he said.

"It's arguable of course who is the best player in the world but in terms of the best two or three he's without doubt in there. To make that choice everyone has different opinions but he was a marvellous player."