Ferguson ‘sides with Souness’ and picks Messi over Maradona

Matt Stead

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Lionel Messi is superior to fellow Argentine icon Diego Maradona.

Messi is seen by many as the natural successor to Maradona as Argentina’s most famous footballing son, but the debate rages on as to which player was better.

Ferguson, whose Manchester United side were overwhelming by a goalscoring Messi in the 2009 Champions League final, believes the Barcelona superstar is the better player.

In an interview with The Times to honour legendary sportswriter Hugh McIlvanney, Ferguson sided with former Liverpool manager Souness after being told of an argument between the pair.

Jonathan Northcroft writes:

‘Something similar happened at a Sunday Times lunch, when with rising intensity Hugh and Graeme Souness debated whether Lionel Messi (Souness’s call) is greater than Diego Maradona (Hugh’s).

‘An exasperated Souness had to finally beseech: “Look, I played against Maradona five times and I’m telling you – Messi.” Hugh growled back: “I don’t care who you played against. It’s Diego.”

Ferguson, whose 1999 autobiography Managing My Life was co-written with McIlvanney, offered his thoughts.

‘Told of this, “I would side with Souness on that one,” says Ferguson. “Maradona’s career at the very top was only a few years.

“But I can imagine Hugh’s response. ‘You don’t ******* know what you’re talking about!’ While blowing a big puff of smoke in your face, lighting another stogie and speaking with that wonderful, rasping voice.”