DIEGO MARADONA almost signed for Sheffield United before the Blades pulled out of an extraordinary transfer… over £40,000.
And the stingy Bramall Lane board’s refusal to stump up the extra cash had knock-on effects for the world of football.
Diego Maradona could have joined Sheffield United from Argentinos Juniors in 1978 but the Blades board refused to stump up the extra £40,000Credit: Icon Sport – Getty
As reported by The Guardian, United boss Harry Haslam went to Argentina on a scouting mission in 1978.
His eye was caught by a 17-year-old Maradona, then on the books at Argentinos Juniors where he had made his professional debut two years earlier.
Haslam was so impressed that he offered £200,000 straight away to bring Maradona to Yorkshire.
But then in the Second Division, the Blades decided against backing Haslam’s offer.
As a result, Haslam signed Maradona’s compatriot Alex Sabella, a midfielder from River Plate.
Ironically, Sheffield United paid £160,000 for Sabella – just £40,000 less than the fee Haslam agreed to pay Argentinos Juniors for Maradona.
Sabella impressed at Bramall Lane but could not prevent relegation into the Third Division at the end of the 1978-79 season.
He was sold to Leeds the following year for a tidy £400,000 while United dropped down again into the fourth tier.
Maradona, meanwhile, stayed on at Argentinos Juniors until 1981, scoring 115 goals in 167 appearances, before joining Boca Juniors for around £2million.
A year later he signed for Barcelona for a world-record fee of £5m and the rest is history.
His outrageous technical ability made Maradona one of the very greatest footballers of all time while his massive personality and antics made him one of the most controversial, too.
His tragic death on Wednesday following heart failure led to an outpouring of grief and sadness across the football world, particularly in his homeland of Argentina where he was revered like no other.
⚠️ Read our Diego Maradona death live blog for the latest news & updates
Maradona joined Boca Juniors in 1981 and then returned to the club to end his careerCredit: Reuters
Harry Haslam, middle pictured with Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, spotted the teenage superstar on a scouting trip to ArgentinaCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
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