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Jul 31, 2011

Aguero: I'm the not the new Maradona

The pressure that goes with being the Premier League's brightest new star is nothing compared to the ordeal Sergio Aguero must have gone through when he was granted an audience with his prospective father-in-law back in 2007.

It's fair to assume 19-year-old Aguero was quivering as he waltzed into Diego Maradona's palatial home as the new man in his beloved daughter Giannina's life, with that defining moment in his life likely to make his imminent Premier League debut for Manchester City seem like a walk in the park.

Time will tell whether £38 million signing Aguero has what it takes to transform the world's richest club into contenders for Premier League and European glory, but this intimate insight into his psyche suggests he has the temperament to handle the expectations about to pour down upon him.

Why have you decided the time is right to come to England?

I have always enjoyed watching English football and even when I was a young boy hoping to make an impression at Independiente, I believed that one day I could get a chance to play in the Premier League. I like the pace of this league and feel I am suited to the style of football they play.

Is it true you were a Liverpool fan as a kid?

I used to like Liverpool and remember watching their Champions League final (against AC Milan in 2005) and cheering every goal as they made their comeback. So yes, I liked Liverpool, but to say I was a fan is a bit too strong.

Everyone is fascinated by your relationship with your father-in-law- tell us something about Diego Maradona.

I'm so, so proud to be part of the Maradona family. Not only because of his great achievements as a footballer, his history as the world's best-ever player and his status as a legend in Argentina, but because also has wonderful human qualities.

This is a side of Maradona most of us don't get to see. What has he done for you since you married his daughter?

When I've looked to him for advice, he's been there and, you know, he's always straight and honest in his analysis. Diego likes to keep things simple and straightforward. We both come from humble backgrounds and he always says the important thing is to remember where we have come from.

You got married at a young age and already have a son, has this settled family life been good for your career?

Footballers who are content off the pitch are the most effective on it and I fall into this category. Giannina is the woman of my life, my support system. She grew up in the football bubble and knows all about it. That is an enormous help to me.

How does it feel when people compare you to Maradona?

I can only smile because these guys just don't know what they are saying. Diego was a one-off, the all-time great who can never be matched. I know I can play, but do not say I'm the new Maradona. He was a magician with a ball at his feet, a leader, a total inspiration to him team-mates. No one, I repeat no-one, could have transformed Argentina and Napoli like he did all those years ago.

You must understand why people say it though? Do you not think your style of play is similar?

Sure we have the same approach to the game. We always look to invent, take risks and make things happen in the attacking-third. Both of us love to dribble, quicken the play and react fast out on the pitch. There are other things too as each of us plays with maximum emotion, each of us are driven by a burning desire to win. Then again all Argentine pros are highly competitive. Ultimately though, Maradona was a genius, while I'm just an apprentice.

Was it strange to play for Maradona at the 2010 World Cup?

At home, we are family, but it was business when he was Argentina manager and I was his player. When he asked me to play, it was not to play for Maradona, but for our country. It was easy to separate the two emotions.

Is it true you could have joined Juventus?

My agent tells me there were some discussion with Juventus, but I let him deal with all these issues. I like to focus on football and let other people worry about the money and the transfers.

What are your ambitions now that you are at Manchester City?

Obviously to win trophies. I've not won a World Cup, the Champions League or a major European league championship. This is what I yearn for and not just as a squad player, but as one of the main protagonists. As you get older you feel a need to put medals on the table, put down a marker that nobody can argue with. The next steps in my career are going to be the most important. I want to make some history and the clock is ticking.

How would you describe yourself as a player?

My spark has always been the search for excitement and the thrill of taking on and beating an opponent. Pitting myself against a bigger, tougher opponent brings out the best in me. I wouldn't go as far as to say I'm aiming to humiliate my marker, but something like that. I want to thrill and feel thrilled. Football is a deadly serious business these days and there's a huge amount at stake all the time, but that does not mean you cannot enjoy your profession.

Are you ready to take the next step in your career?

I believe so. There is no doubt in my mind that my football education has been rounded off at Atletico as I'm more team-orientated than before. I am much more aware of what going on around me and tactically sharper. I've become a more versatile attacker and more aware in my movement. However, there is still so much more for me to improve on.

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