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‘A moment I’ll never forget’

Demichelis and Sosa meet Maradona in Munich

Three days ahead of Bayern’s crunch trip to arch-rivals Schalke 04, Argentina internationals Martin Demichelis and José Ernesto Sosa drew inspiration and motivation from an informal Thursday evening meet-up in a Munich hotel with their new national coach, Diego Armando Maradona.

“He wanted to establish a personal relationship with us and outline his plans,” Demichelis reported after the get-together with “Argentina’s greatest footballing icon.“ Accompanied by team manager Dr. Carlos Bilardo, the new Albiceleste coach is visiting his European-based players to discuss his tactics in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup.

Promising signal

“He’s doing what I did four years ago,” recalled Bayern boss Jürgen Klinsmann, who similarly sought early contact with his best players after taking the national hot seat. The fact that Maradona came to Munich solely to see Demichelis and Sosa was a sign of the duo’s importance, Klinsmann reckoned. “We’d be delighted if he dropped in and saw us play every now and then,” the FCB coach continued.

Micho and José Sosa spent a good three quarters of an hour with Maradona and Bilardo, enough time for both to form a good personal impression of their childhood hero. “You can’t ask for more than having the greatest idol and the last World Cup winning coach come to Munich just to see José and me,” commented Demichelis.

A gift from football

“I’ve previously met Maradona,” Demichelis continued, “but that’s the first time I’ve spoken to him for any length of time. That was a gift from football, and a moment I’ll never forget.” The 27-year-old underlined the reverence in which the former player is held in his country of birth. “His presence is enough to motivate you to new heights,” Demichelis stated, recalling a childhood shaped by sticker albums and posters of the Argentine hero.

The new coach has made it plain no player has automatic first-choice status in the new set-up. “Around 80 Argentine players are performing at the highest level with European clubs,” Demichelis revealed. “We could put out three or four strong teams. Making it into the national side is incredibly difficult.“

Back at Hampden

However, Micho is convinced good performances for Bayern will ensure he features in Maradona’s plans. “My dream is to be part of it in 2010,” said the player who was dropped by his country shortly before the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He and Sosa have both been called up for Maradona’s first match in charge, a meeting with Scotland on 19 November at Hampden Park in Glasgow – the ground where Maradona scored his first goal for Argentina back in 1979.