There aren’t many rock ‘n’ roll bands who could have stood toe to toe with hit-making Oasis and the central figures of the group, the Gallagher brothers, in the nineties. The Mancunian legends were bonafide rock stars from the very start and, during their ‘mad for it peak’, the two brothers at the centre of the band, Liam and Noel Gallagher, were the most famous people in the world. Nobody could touch them, except, of course, if you were in Argentina and in the presence of the legend that is footballer Diego Maradona.
The iconic figure of sport is currently recovering from brain surgery following a bleed on the brain which was potentially life-threatening. The soccer-loving masses will never forget the legendary player, both his infamous ‘Hand of God’ and Godlike feet. The player’s career had been largely run by the time he crossed paths with the pair of performers but that hadn’t diminished his level of fame and esteem in his homeland. The stories that swirl around Diego Maradona’s penchant for packets of white powder would make Keith Richards blush and, when he met the equally hard-partying brothers, there was always a chance things would explode — especially if they ‘touched his bitches’.
The stories that surround the footballer invariably involve a strange scenario which only ever gets stranger and, when he met Liam and Noel Gallagher while the band were in Argentina, things naturally took a swerve off-course after an initial friendly exchange. In a recent conversation with Noisey and reported by Player Playlist, as part of their British Masters series, Liam Gallagher shared a remarkable story which ended happily enough but had the potential for combustion.
“We were in Argentina, we had done a gig,” Gallagher recalls with a blurring ferocity that we imagine matched his heart rate at the time, “And the next minute we were sat in the bar having a fucking drink, and then about 30 people have come, legging it in. It was like the Ant Hill Mob. And we were going ‘who the fucking hell is that?’”.
Of course, it was Diego Maradona and his crew but before that story could unfold to its fullest, Gallagher also shares: “Sting was at the bar crying because he’d fucking had his dressing room robbed.” It’s something most fans would love to know more about but Gallagher, so far, isn’t budging on that story or sharing why the singer was sobbing. Instead, he continued with his own, “And, anyway, so I found out it was Maradona, who had gone upstairs with a load of fucking madheads, and a load of fucking women of the night.”
For the band and their own group of rowdy roadies, the opportunity to meet a legendary footballer and party with him to boot was too tempting to turn down. They did what any football fan worth their salt would do, they chanced their arm. “So we were going ‘look, can we just go up and meet him?’ like that to the fucking interpreter. And the interpreter’s gone ‘Alright cool, let me just go and fucking square it with him.’”
Not all of the group were given the all-clear to move up to the party and it was only the two Gallagher brothers who were invited to get down with the Hand of God. “See ya!” says Liam about his thoughts on leaving the rest of the group waiting behind. “We steamed up there and there was fucking loads of activity going on,” the singer continued.
“Maradona’s in the middle of the room fucking doing football tricks with a bottle top,” exclaims Liam, living out many people’s idea of a good night. As he claims the footballer’s eyes were bulging and “ours weren’t far off,” eventually he saw the balancing act of the evening ahead and the potential disaster the brothers could be heading for, “I was going ‘Look, it’s a bit moody in here, let’s get a quick picture with him and we’ll fuck off.’”
After the band took a quick picture they tried to make a hasty exit while Maradona continued to speak to them in Spanish, “He’s fucking sweating his bollocks off and we turn around and say ‘What did he just say?’” says Gallagher. “He [the interpreter] says ‘He’s told me to tell you that if you leave with any of his bitches, he’ll have you shot.’”
It’s one of the strangest moments of football and music crossing over but perhaps no better fit than Maradona, arguably the biggest party-starter in football, mixing with Oasis, the perenially ‘mad for it’ Mancs. It is a match made in heaven.