A then record crowd of 43,967 packed the SFS  on October 31, 1993 to watch the Socceroos take on Argentina in the first leg of a two-legged play-off for a spot at the 1994 World Cup.

At the time it was Australian football’s biggest blockbuster game and that was due to one man - Diego Maradona.

Having the world’s greatest footballer in Sydney not only put football on the front and back pages of national newspapers, it drew attention from the world’s media.

“You could only imagine the chaos and the madness that occurred when Maradona was in Australia,” says Andy Paschalidis who called both legs for SBS.

“The only person that got a one-on-one interview was Les Murray. Not so much because we were the host broadcaster but Les was smart.

“He knew Maradona had two daughters and he bought them gifts and he gave them to him as he walked into the Crowne Plaza in Coogee where the Argentine team was staying before the game.

“That opened the door to get an exclusive interview with Maradona - it might have been 10 minutes at the most.”

During the game, Socceroos captain Paul Wade followed the Argentine legend everywhere and for most of the match held Maradona's attacking intent at bay.

But Australia’s worst fears eventuated when Maradona stole the ball off Australian defender Milan Ivanovic and crossed to Argentine striker Abel Balbo to give Argentina the lead.

However, the Socceroos came back with one of the most memorable moments in Australian sporting history.

Australia’s skilful Ned Zelic began the move with a beautiful diagonal pass to Tony Vidmar who then swung in a dangerous cross from the right wing for his brother Aurelio Vidmar to score the equaliser.

The noise the crowd made when Vidmar put the ball in the back of the net was deafening and for Australian football fans it didn’t get any better than that night.

The Socceroos ended up drawing 1-1 but Zelic feels Australia should have got more from that game.

“Ahhh it was massive,” he recalled. “Especially playing against Maradona, who I grew up as a kid watching and supporting.

“I thought we had a real chance. We showed we can match it with them and we could have won that first leg; we just made a few errors at the back that let them in.”

The stories of that game and Maradona’s exploits off the field are legendary.

Then SBS commentator Andy Paschalidis recalls some of the action that went on behind the scenes after the first leg.

“I talked to some of the players en route to Buenos Aires for the second leg,” he says

“They told me that when they were in New Zealand on the stopover a few of the Socceroos were queuing up to get a photo with Maradona and his autograph.

“I love the fact that Australia had a 1-1 draw in Sydney and the Argentinians are going back home and thinking we’ve got the away goal, we got the result we wanted and there are our boys queuing up for autographs.

“Could you imagine that happening now? No chance.”

Maradona’s visit to Australia was immortalised by the late world renowned artist Tony Rafty who, through his friend and former Socceroo coach Rale Rasic, met the Argentine and drew him at his hotel.

“He knew that I knew Maradona,”  Rasic recalled. “He said, ‘At any cost I want to you to organise Diego Maradona’s caricature’.

"Even before I had organised anything or spoke to Diego I said, ‘Done, I guarantee you I will have it done’ and his eyes just lit up.”

Rasic brought Rafty to meet Maradona at an Argentine training session the day before the game. When he showed the World Cup winner an album of the artist's previous works including Pele, it was game on.

“Diego was blown away when he saw some of the names, like anyone would. So Diego said, ‘Yes, the privilege is mine.’” Rasic recalled.

“So, when he went back to Coogee, Diego stood outside of the hotel until Tony was done. You will never believe in your life - Diego stood there for over two hours posing, full of pride, and hardly moved and wasn’t distracted.

“He rejected offers of coffee, water and tea the whole time. Diego signed the drawing ‘conafecto’ which means best wishes in Spanish. 

“Afterwards me and Tony went for a coffee and he kept saying, ‘Unbelievable!’ about 20 times. 

“The work appeared in a copy of the NSW Soccer Federation magazine with the headline: Maradona meets Rafty and Rasic – and when Tony saw it he was in tears.”