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Diego Maradona wears a Seiko jersey and holds the trophy after Boca Juniors beat the Hong Kong side 2-0 in an exhibition match in January, 1982. Photos: SCMP

Diego Maradona: When the legend lit up Hong Kong Stadium in 1982

  • As a 21-year-old, the Argentinian led Boca Juniors to a 2-0 victory over top Hong Kong side Seiko in an exhibition game in January, 1982
  • Former Seiko star Derek Currie remembers drinking with Maradona in Central and being at Aztec Stadium for his ‘Hand of God’ goal in 1986

Diego Maradona was still four years away from winning the World Cup with Argentina when he arrived in Hong Kong in 1982 for an exhibition match against Seiko – but he was already a megastar in the football world and local fans came out in force to watch him.

At just 21 years old, Maradona – who died in November 2020 aged 60 after suffering a heart attack – had already displayed the kind of skills that had him mentioned in the same breath as Pele, and his journey to infamy and greatness with Italian side Napoli and Argentina was only just starting.

Despite an overall disappointing match, Maradona stood out and delighted the 27,380 fans with his full repertoire of skills as he led a Boca Juniors side that featured fellow 1986 World Cup winner Oscar Ruggeri to a 2-0 victory over Hong Kong’s top team Seiko on January 10, 1982.

The local side brought in a host of Dutch guest players, as well as Germany great Gerd Muller, with local icon Wu Kwok-hung – who captained the side – and Au Wing-hung the only Hong Kong players in the squad.

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Derek Currie, among the first foreign professionals to play in Hong Kong, had left Seiko by that time but had a drink with Maradona and his teammates after the game.

“It was at the old Bull and Bear pub in Central,” said Currie. “He was in with two other players. It was after they had played and he was looking for somewhere more exciting to go, so I told him where.”

More than four years later, Currie was a journalist at the Aztec Stadium in Mexico watching England play Argentina in a World Cup quarter-final.

Diego Maradona waves to fans at the Hong Kong Stadium on January 10, 19282 when Boca Juniors played Seiko.

He was there when Maradona scored two of the most famous goals in the history of football – his famous “Hand of God” goal that he punched over Peter Shilton and his sublime run from the halfway line, beating seven England players before slotting home.

“I remember it all very well and after the game, the journalists were rushing to watch replays on TV to see whether he had handled the ball or not,” said Currie.

“However, his second goal was a masterpiece in hot and humid conditions.”

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: When the legend lit up Hong Kong Stadium