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I remember one day he started shooting the journalists - Pochettino recalls Maradona mayhem

No discipline problem is too big for Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino to handle after witnessing the antics of Diego Maradona first-hand.

Mauricio Pochettino - cropped
Mauricio Pochettino of Tottenham

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino continues to idolise Diego Maradona, despite the Argentina great once abandoning his young team-mate and going absent from a training camp to attack reporters with an air rifle.

Pochettino had the dubious honour of sharing a room with the veteran Maradona at Newell's Old Boys in 1994, the mercurial forward having returned home following his glittering, if erratic, spell in Europe with Barcelona, Napoli and Sevilla. 

Speaking ahead of the clash against Chelsea at Wembley, the Spurs manager cast his mind back to the chaos of attempting to learn his trade alongside one of football's most colourful characters. 

"We were together in the room during pre-season in Mar del Plata," Pochettino said. 

"I remember one day he started shooting the journalists in Argentina. The day before he was sleeping in my room. He loved basketball and went to see it in Mar del Plata – the final in the conference. And then, in the morning, I woke up and he wasn't in bed.

"I then go to breakfast, the manager asked about him and I said: 'No, no, no, he didn't come back to the hotel.' 

"After breakfast we went to training. Nobody knew about Diego and at lunchtime it was breaking news on the television... 'Diego shoots journalists in Buenos Aires!' 400 kilometres away!"

In the same year Maradona was thrown out of the 1994 World Cup in disgrace for failing a drugs test and, in 1998, he eventually received a suspended prison sentence of two years and 10 months for opening fire on reporters in the incident recalled by Pochettino. 

Despite the former national team player and manager's occasionally bizarre behaviour, Pochettino insists it is impossible not to adore the "real" Maradona.

"I love him," he said. 

"I love everything about him. I knew Maradona, the real Maradona. We see him on the pitch and then there is his image. Outside it was crazy.

"But I promise you, if he arrived here and opened the door we'd all be in love with him. 

"His energy, his personality – and he's a person that when he's with you he makes you feel the best. 

"It's so difficult in English to express myself and my emotion.

"I think I was one of the most happiest people in the world when I met him for the first time. Because it was a dream come true, but more than a dream."

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