Yesterday in Argentina, Diego “El Pibe” Maradona was officially presented as the national team coach of the albicelestes.
He will be assisted by Dr. Carlos Bilardo, his former coach during their last World Cup triumph in 1986.
The former Boca Juniors, Napoli and Barcelona star succeeds Alfio Basile, who stepped down from the position on October 16 for personal reasons.
Mister Maradona’s first game on the Argentine bench will be a 19 November 2008 friendly in Glasgow against Scotland.
Press Conference Excerpts:
“Es un honor y es como un sueño estar en la Selección junto a Carlos”.
“It is an honor and is like a dream to be in the Argentine national team together with Carlos.”
“Nosotros dos vamos a estar al frente de todo”.
“Both of us are going to be in front of everything.”
Asked who he wanted for his back room staff?
“Lealtad absoluta. Que sean de fierro. Que estén para trabajar y que acepten órdenes de la cabeza número uno que soy yo”.
“Absolute loyalty. Those that are made of steel. Those who work and accept orders from the head man which is me.”
“Las grandes selecciones las hacen los jugadores. No quiero que mi equipo juegue como la selección del 86. Quiero que tenga identidad propia. Sabiendo que lo único que importa acá es la camiseta”, confesó y luego agregó: “Mascherano va a ser mi capitán”.
“Great national teams are made by the players. I don’t want that my team plays like the 1986 side. I want it to have its own identity. Knowing that the only important thing here is the shirt, he confessed and then added: Javier Mascherano is going to be my captain.”
Source: Clarin of Buenos Aires, 04 November 2008.
Spanish translation by Steve Amoia.
Andres Cantor on Diego Maradona
Earlier this year, Soccerlens interviewed Andres Cantor. Cantor knows Maradona quite well, and had an interesting observation:
“First and foremost he was adored because of his brilliance in the pitch. He was a magician with a football. But his life story made him have a universal appeal. He began gaining notoriety in his early teens where he stood out playing for his “Cebollitas” Team. He played in a nationally televised tournament and everyone was asking who was that midfielder that seemed capable of dribbling the entire rival team.
His rag to riches story, his confrontation with the status quo, with the powers of football and politics, his aura as a football diva and, of course, his triumphs on the pitch made him a superidol in Argentina. So much so, that many people to the day, forgive him for any wrong doings, and will always support him for what he represented as a footballer. Off the pitch I got to know a very humble, yet intelligent man, who with great difficulty had to rapidly adjust to world stardom. A very sincere and outspoken person, who also knew that when he spoke people listened. Not always could you agree with his line of thinking, but he surely caught everyone’s attention.”
Jorge Valdano on Diego Maradona
Valdano, speaking to BBC:
…Maradona, he was a genetic miracle, a man whom nature endowed with extraordinary abilities and who, moreover, grew up in the right place to achieve his potential.
On the field he demonstrated an ability to be a generous man, both committed and brave. The people who said terrible things about Maradona are the same people who forget that it is necessary to judge geniuses by their deeds and not by their life.
Maradona the Manager?
The man is a national icon, hell, an international icon, and there is no doubt that the players will respect him and that he has the footballing brain to handle coaching at the top level. The only doubts that remain would be over his man-management abilities, because I don’t see Diego Maradona falling foul of the ‘pressures’ of international management – the man single-handedly won the World Cup in 1986, he can handle a bunch of kids trying to do it the second time around.
Do you think Diego Maradona will make a good coach?
Argentina and the 2010 World Cup
Will Argentina lift the World Cup in 2010 South Africa or will his reign end in tears? Two things are certain – one, that people will continue to talk about his off-field problems and a select few on-field issues and use the past to judge the present and two, the ending will be something spectacular, whether it ends in tears or in glory.
Can’t wait to see a Maradona-led Argentina face England in South Africa 2010…
Steve Amoia is the author and editor of the World Football Commentaries blog. He has written for AC Cugini Scuola Calcio, Keeper Skool, and Soccerlens.