The remarkable story of how Diego Maradona almost signed for Sunderland AFC

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Diego Maradona has passed away at the age of 60, according to reports in Argentina.

The footballing icon made over 90 appearances for the Argentinian national side during a glittering playing career, leading his country to triumph at the 1986 World Cup.

He also enjoyed a fine club career, turning out for the likes of Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli.

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Maradona retired from playing in 1997, after making 588 senior appearances and scoring 312 times.

Diego MaradonaDiego Maradona
Diego Maradona

He then turned his hand to management – where he led the Argentinian national side between 2008 and 2010.

But before he shot to the big time, Maradona almost found himself turning out at Roker Park in the red and white stripes of Sunderland.

A recent documentary revealed that the Argentinian wanted to join Sunderland in 1977.

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Indeed, the future World Cup winner was so keen to make the move to Roker Park that he even threatened to retire from football if the move couldn't be forced through.

The surprising link was revealed by the History Channel in a series on the history of the beautiful game in the build-up to the 2018 World Cup.

Maradona, then just 17-years-old, was attracting interest having burst onto the scene for the national team as well as his club side, Argentinos Juniors.

And one of the first clubs to register an interest in the attacker were Sunderland - with Maradona keen to make the move.

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But Argentina, then ruled by a military dictatorship, declared Maradona 'untransferrable' and demanded he remained on home soil.

Despite threatening to retire in order to seal a move to Wearside, the youngster was forced to stay in his homeland before eventually moving to Barcelona in 1982 as he missed out on his dream move to Roker Park.

As Maradona’s biographer, Daniel Arcucci, explained: “The first offer that Maradona received was from England’s Sunderland in 1977 and Maradona wanted to go.

“He said ‘If they don’t sell me to Sunderland, I’m retiring’. At that time we didn’t have a democratic government and they declared him untransferable, one of a group of players who were untransferable.”

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