The day 40 years ago World Cup legend Diego Maradona nearly joined Sheffield United

Diego Maradona lifts the World Cup in 1986.
Diego Maradona lifts the World Cup in 1986.

He's back in the headlines for his crazy antics at this year's World Cup - and it is forty years ago this year that World Cup legend Diego Maradona nearly joined Sheffield United.

Love him or loathe him (and we know most England fans will never forgive him for his 1986 Hand of God goal), the Argentine superstar raised eyebrows once again last night during his country's win over Nigeria after appearing to fall asleep, make dramatic prayers to the skies and celebrating by making one-finger gestures to fans.

Maradona during last night's 2-1 win over Nigeria. (Photo: BBC).

Maradona during last night's 2-1 win over Nigeria. (Photo: BBC).

All a far cry from the summer of 1978 when the diminutive footballer nearly rocked up at Bramall Lane.

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It might sound unlikely, but it was a potential football transfer that never quite happened. Here's the story.

Back in the late 70s, the then Bramall Lane boss Harry Haslam was ahead of the game in looking for players to bolster his team, casting his sights abroad in the search for talent.

It was while on a scouting mission in Argentina that Haslam eyed a talented 17-year-old by the name of Diego Maradona in 1978.

He was so impressed by the short, dark-haired lad's silky skills that he negotiated a £200,000 deal there and then.

READ MORE: Alex Sabella - Sheffield United's version of Diego Maradona
But when Argentinos Juniors demanded more money, the Blades board refused to sanction it and bought Maradona's compatriot Alejandro Sabella, better known as Alex, instead.

Sabella spent a couple of years in South Yorkshire and proved popular with United fans while Maradona of course went on to fame and infamy, his Hand Of God goal against England in 1986, followed by his stunning solo effort in the same game before eventually lifting the World Cup with Argentina that year catapulting him to legend status and making him one of the world's greatest ever players.

Meanwhile, Maradona has assured fans he is "fine" after being seen by a doctor during Argentina's tense win over Nigeria.

READ MORE: From Buenos Aires to Bramall Lane
The 57-year-old said his "neck hurt a lot" and he posted a picture on social media showing medical staff with him at half-time but denied he had been taken to hospital.

"I want to tell everyone that I am fine," his Instagram post read.

"I was checked by a doctor and he recommended me to go home before the second half, but I wanted to stay because we were risking it all. How could I leave?"

Video posted online appeared to show Maradona struggling to get up from his seat at full-time and earlier, he was in tears as Argentina appeared to be on the verge of going out.

Then, after Marcos Rojo scored the team's late winner, he was seen giving one-fingered gestures.