His opinion was revealed in an interview conducted by The Times with the legendary manager in an article honoring the recently-passed sportswriter Hugh McIlvanney, who co-wrote Ferguson’s autobiography, Managing My Life.
Ferguson recalls an argument between McIlvanney and former Liverpool boss Graeme Souness:
‘Something similar happened at a Sunday Times lunch, when with rising intensity Hugh and Graeme Souness debated whether Lionel Messi (Souness’s call) is greater than Diego Maradona (Hugh’s). ‘An exasperated Souness had to finally beseech: “Look, I played against Maradona five times and I’m telling you – Messi.” Hugh growled back: “I don’t care who you played against. It’s Diego.”
Told of this, “I would side with Souness on that one,” says Ferguson. “Maradona’s career at the very top was only a few years. But I can imagine Hugh’s response. ‘You don’t ******* know what you’re talking about!’ While blowing a big puff of smoke in your face, lighting another stogie and speaking with that wonderful, rasping voice.”