Germany defender Arne Friedrich has said that he is relishing the chance to rub shoulders with the man he considers to be the world's greatest ever footballer - and shatter his FIFA World Cup™ dreams.
The 31-year-old Hertha Berlin player and his team-mates will head into battle with Diego Maradona's Argentina on Saturday with a place in the semi-finals up for grabs. Friedrich will do so with immense admiration for the Argentinian coach, but few qualms about sending him home for South Africa disappointed.
He told the DFB's official website: "He [Maradona] is a big attraction, he is the absolute star. As a player and now as a coach, he is unsurpassed. He was for me the greatest footballer ever and will always remain so. Therefore, it is of course great now to be measured indirectly with him - and it would be even more beautiful if we should win against his team."
As a player and now as a coach, he is unsurpassed. He was for me the greatest footballer ever and will always remain so.
Germany are well aware of the threat Argentina represent to their own hopes of lifting the trophy, but Friedrich is confident they can deal with that as a team. He said: "Argentina is the favourite. In one-on-one comparison, they have the better players, the greater individual class with [Lionel] Messi, [Carlos] Tevez and the like. But we have to find a team capable of creative solutions. We are close as a team and have so far shown that we can keep up with all the teams we have played."
Friedrich was speaking after it was confirmed that Wolfsburg are in talks with Hertha Berlin over signing him. The defender has two years left to run on his contract in the German capital, but is unlikely to remain at the club following their relegation to the second division.
Hertha are under pressure to sell their biggest earner and Friedrich recently admitted he had "several offers" but was not going to make up his mind over his future until after the FIFA World Cup. Steve McClaren's Wolfsburg, though, have emerged as a possible destination.
"We are in negotiations with Hertha," the Wolves' managing director Dieter Hoeness told the Bild newspaper. The 31-year-old, who impressed in Germany's last-16 win against England at the weekend, is also believed to be attracting interest from clubs in the English Premier League.