Crespo finds classical virtue in Maradona's example

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The Independent Football

Crespo, who is unsettled at Stamford Bridge and could leave next summer, has found chances hard to come by this season, failing as he has to claim a regular starting place in Jose Mourinho's Chelsea team.

"This game is special not only for me but for everyone," Crespo said yesterday. "I'm the only one that plays back in England but there are one thousand reasons to be motivated for this game. This is an international classic. It's the closest you get to an Argentina v Brazil and it means a lot."

The former Lazio and Milan forward, who will be up against his Chelsea team-mates John Terry, Frank Lampard, Wayne Bridge and Shaun Wright-Phillips on Saturday, came on as a substitute in the penalty shoot-out victory over England at the 1998 World Cup finals in St-Etienne, and in Sapporo, Japan, four years later when England avenged that defeat with a 1-0 win.

The most notorious controversy between the two sides was in 1986 when Diego Maradona's two goals - the infamous "Hand of God" goal and his sublime individual effort - inspired Argentina to a 2-1 victory over England to reach the semi-finals of the Mexico tournament.

It is a game Crespo still remembers fondly. He said: "I was at home watching the game, it was crazy, I didn't even notice the hand incident but with regards to the other one, my father, who is not a big fan of football, went wild. I was only 11 and I didn't think it was normal what he had done. He was not a football lover but that day he really was."

Although Crespo - once the world's most expensive player following his £35.4m move from Parma to Lazio five years ago - has no ambitions to emulate the goals of his country's greatest player, he admits that he enjoys playing in such a prestigious fixture.

"I discard the one where he dribbles past many players because I wouldn't be able to do it. It would certainly be easier to score with my hand. But seriously, it's beautiful to have the possibility to play against one of the world football powers.

"I want to beat England more than beating a given player. It doesn't matter if David Beckham, Lampard or Steven Gerrard play, if you win you bury all the rumours."

Argentina led the South American World Cup qualifying group for the majority of the campaign before losing two of their last three matches to be overtaken by Brazil.

"We have to accept that we are not playing at the level that we desire," said Crespo, "but still have many games in which to return to our best and all the rumours regarding the national team will fade away.

"What we want is to go to the World Cup and do things well. I always go on the pitch wanting to score because of my position and for my career. The important thing is to play well and consequently the result will come our way."