Northern Ireland

Maradona gets his first taste of Gaelic football

Maradona is presented with a GAA shirt Image copyright Ammar Ali
Image caption The Argentinian superstar is presented with an Éire Óg shirt for his collection

Legendary soccer player Diego Maradona had his first taste of Gaelic football recently when he met members of a GAA club in the United Arab Emirates.

Éire Óg Fujairah was founded by teachers from Ireland but the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club has 40 members from around the world.

Maradona is currently coach of UAE Division Two side, Fujairah FC.

Éire Óg captain Andrew Hogan said the sport was entirely new to the Argentinian superstar.

"He's very enthusiastic. His enthusiasm and his passion is so real when you meet him," he said.

'Hand of God'

Fujairah is one of the smaller emirates so newcomers Éire Óg were keen to connect with their sporting neighbours.

"We've tried to make links with them to get pitch time," said Andrew, who hails from Sixmilebridge in County Clare.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Maradona scores with his hand in the infamous "Hand of God" incident

Maradona was "very jokey" said the GAA captain, offering to set up a game between the two teams.

The Argentinean famously scored with his hand against England in the 1986 World Cup - skills that could prove useful if he ever took to coaching Gaelic football.

Gaelic games are growing in popularity in the Middle East, with regular tournaments involving hundreds of players being held in the region.

It is a reduced nine-a-side format, with seven minutes per half.

Games are played in the winter, when temperatures are a bearable 25C.

Formed just eight months ago, Éire Óg currently have two men's teams and one women's team with a core of 10 Irish players but they are keen to find new members and a sponsorship deal.

More on this story