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Rediff.com  » Sports » Rooney can hand England World Cup: Maradona

Rooney can hand England World Cup: Maradona

November 17, 2005 19:07 IST

Diego Maradona believes that England's World Cup hopes rest on striker Wayne Rooney.

"Rooney is a very powerful striker, he's very talented and he can take England to World Cup victory," Maradona said.

Rooney can single-handedly shape the fortunes of his team, said Maradona who with Pele and other sporting celebrities was attending Thursday's opening of the Aspire Sports Academy's new sports dome, largest indoor facility of its kind in the world.

The Manchester United striker was England's outstanding player in their 3-2 victory over Argentina in a friendly between two 2006 World Cup favourites in Geneva on Saturday.

Maradona almost single-handedly won Argentina's second World Cup in 1986. They beat England 2-1 in the quarter-finals with Maradona's infamous Hand of God goal and a second strike voted the best ever in a World Cup tournament.

He said the answer to the biggest debate in football -- who is the greatest, Pele or Maradona? -- lies with his mother.

"I won't say I am the greatest. But. like everybody, I too believe my mother. And she says I'm the greatest," he laughed.

Maradona refused to accept that he was an inspiration to millions of kids during his prime playing days in the 1980s and that his subsequent fall from grace through drug addiction had a negative impact.

"I believe parents are the biggest inspiration for their children and not stars who appear on the field for 90 minutes or celebrities who appear on television for a lesser period of time," said Maradona, who will be 46 on November 30.

"I realised that only parents can be real examples and that's when I corrected myself. I changed my lifestyle and transformed a lot for the sake of my two daughters. Now I do everything for them," he said.

Maradona, who with his sublime skills teased and tormented the best of defences in his heyday, said if he were playing now, he would have still liked to play for Italy's Napoli and not for big clubs like Chelsea, Manchester United or Real Madrid.

"I would have definitely opted for Napoli and would have beaten all these big clubs," said Maradona, who captained Napoli to their only Italian Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990.

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