Diego Maradona and Risto Stoichkov did not have the chance to play together in Barcelona. While the Argentine legend was at Barcelona (1982–1984). The Bulgarian legend was playing for his home club FC Hebros. When Stoichkov first arrived at Barca (1990–1995). Maradona toured Napoli and Sevilla at his home club Newell’s Old Boys. However, how can friendship become between two legends of one world? How could that be a bit wrong? In the world of football, there is only one language – the game. Both became friends in that language.
Stoichkov, the top scorer at the 1994 World Cup and winner of the Ballon d’Or that year, had a crush on Maradona. Stoichkov, who won the European Cup and La Liga five times with Barcelona, blamed himself for some of the ’86 World Cup legends. Maradona has been suffering from self-immolation ever since he died on November 25, 2020. Perhaps because of the demands of friendship, Stychkov now thinks that Maradona could have been saved from the “vultures” if he checked in on Maradona more regularly!
The former striker of Bulgaria has expressed such sadness about Maradona in a conversation with ESPN’s TV series ‘Equipo F’.
He last spoke to Maradona in 2016. After that, the 56-year-old legend could not contact Maradona at least on the phone despite many attempts.
“I had all his (Maradona’s) (phone) numbers,” Stoichkov said. The last time I spoke to him was on February 2 or 3, 2016. He called me on February 8 to wish me a happy birthday. We didn’t talk after that. He might be sleeping, resting, or playing. The service was the last time I talked to Maradona.’ Stoichkov then expressed some regret and said, ‘I don’t think I was allowed to talk to Maradona. What can I do if there is no opportunity to speak?’
“I blame myself for not being able to separate Maradona from the vultures,” Stoichkov said.
After Maradona’s death, many things have been said about him. His chaotic life is responsible for his death. He became addicted to drugs and did not care about the rules in his daily life. Maradona’s daughters have complained that many have made money by breaking his name. Even the question of medical negligence behind his death has been raised and the matter is now being addressed in court. Stoichkov probably identified these people as ‘vultures’.
“I blame myself for not being able to separate Maradona from the vultures,” Stoichkov said. I have always said that they are a group of vultures. From the friendship we had, I blame myself for not being a little more careful (towards Maradona). Sometimes sitting at home I think, I could not do more. I am guilty! I used to get very angry seeing people in suits and ties around him, I saw him suffer a lot. May he rest in peace. Maradona was never separated from his friends.
Stoichkov met Maradona in the nineties. There was never any anger between them. However, he used to tell his observation about each other’s game directly on his face, ‘I also spoke to him in hoarse language. And if I ever make a mistake, Diego talks to me the same way. He knew that footballers have to speak openly.