Not many footballers can claim they have had Diego Maradona in their back pocket, but former Manchester United defender Graeme Hogg said exactly that when he appeared in the latest episode of the UTD Podcast.
The Scot was asked whether he had really made that boast to his fellow countryman Arthur Albiston during United’s momentous 3-0 victory over Barcelona at Old Trafford in 1984.
He replied, “Aye, that was a big pocket”, and added that it was probably said at half-time in the second leg of our crucial European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-final.
United had entered the return match trailing 2-0 from the away leg in Barcelona, where things hadn’t gone entirely to plan for Hogg.
“I scored an own goal over there,” he admitted. “By God, what a goal it was! It had been raining and the guy crossed it from the right-hand side and I tried to just block it and it skidded right off my boot and straight in the roof of the net.”
Hogg added that manager Ron Atkinson managed to see the funny side, recalling that the Reds boss said: “What a strike that was! The first goal I’ve ever seen where the goalie dives five seconds after it hit the back of the net.”
The former centre-back revealed that while many pundits felt the tie was “more or less done and dusted” after the first leg, the Reds hoped they would be able to turn things around back in Manchester.
That’s precisely what happened, as Bryan Robson netted twice before Frank Stapleton scored the winner. Hogg lauded the United support for the part they played in an incredible comeback.
He recalled: “It was a mountain to climb in the second leg at Old Trafford, but it was just an amazing night. You’ll speak to people at Old Trafford now – punters – and they’ll probably say to you the atmosphere that night was absolutely out of this world.”
Although he was just 19 at the time and had made only a handful of first-team appearances, Hogg said he wasn’t fazed by the prospect of dealing with Maradona.
Instead, he thought to himself, “’Try as much as possible to keep him in front of you, don’t give him the speed, don’t get too tight on him. Just give yourself that half-yard, so that if he does turn, you can – in the first 10 minutes, anyway – nail him. Make sure he knows the score.’
“That actually happened. He turned straight into me and then he got up and was giving it the old, whatever it was he said to me, I don’t know. He kept kind of distanced from me, he was dropping short quite a lot and never once got on the ball and started running at me.”
The Aberdeen-born 57-year-old shares many more memories from his playing days with the UTD Podcast crew, including when he was first given his club car and how a failed medical stopped a potential transfer to Manchester City.
Hogg, who made over 100 appearances for the Reds, also opened up about life after football and returning to “civvy street” at the end of his career, from working as a security guard before now working as a HGV driver.
Our new episode of the UTD Podcast, featuring Graeme Hogg, is available now in the United App.