Mtawali: Maradona got me to Argentina


Former Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Ernest 'Wire' Mtawali has joined the whole world to pay tribute to fallen football icon Diego Maradona.

The Argentina legend died at the age of 60 on Wednesday due to a reported heart attack at his home in Buenos Aires.

Argentina president Alberto Fernandez has already declared three days of mourning for the country as the entire football industry continues to pay homage to one of the game's greatest ever players.

Mtawali is one of the African players who rubbed shoulders with Maradona after the late legend recommended him to his former club Newell's Old Boys.

"Few people know that it was Diego Maradona who recommended me to Newell's Old Boys after soccer agent Marcelo Houseman sent him my videos while playing in South Africa. Houseman is the same agent that recommended the likes of Shoes Moshoeu to Turkey," Mtawali tells

"I first met him [Maradona] in 1995 in an indoor friendly match at La Coconolo in Buenos Aires. What a nice gentleman! Very kind and welcoming. In fact, a totally different human being to what some people believe.

"We played on the same team during that friendly match. His close ball control was something else. I played in defence and he played up front. We won 21-0 and he scored 19 goals.

"He wore jersey number 10 at Newell's Old Boys in 1993 and I wore the same jersey number at the club in 1995.

"What a great honour to have met Maradona and rubbed shoulders with him. Such a great human being and may his soul rest in peace."

View some of the most iconic images from Maradona's career below

Pele, CR7, Messi pay tribute to Maradona

Diego Maradona dies, aged 60