Diego Maradona was a magician on the pitch but now he’s just out to find a bank account to lean on
Maradona has always found someone’s bank account to lean on.
He has a new one now, admittedly at a Mexican second division club, a pointer to just how far the greatest footballing magician of all time has fallen.
The Argentinian may find redemption as coach to Darados in Mexico but more likely he’s chummed up with a wealthy patron who doesn’t mind shelling out a few pesos for the sake of reflected glory before ditching him. Something of the kind has happened to every pro.
El Diego is an icon with a powerful thirst, a liking for coke and a negligible coaching record. His newest club is bang in the middle of the cocaine cartel belt of Mexico where tortured bodies are commonplace.
Bloated old Diego should be safe. He is worshipped there as the miracle worker who led his country to the 1986 World Cup, beating England with two goals on the way, one a glaring handball foul and the second once voted “Goal of the Century”.
The fact that a man has an inspiring talent to play the game doesn’t mean he can coach it. Maradona and our Paul Gascoigne made the ball talk. Trouble was they are pretty dumb about translating their brilliance on the field into language journeymen players could follow.
Gascoigne has no medals to demarcate his brilliance where Maradona, now 57, has a clutch. Not only that, he was a fearless leader on the field who twice inspired down-in-the-depths Napoli to Seria A titles in the 1980s.
A Naples newspaper declared that despite the lack of a “mayor, houses, schools, buses, employment and sanitation, none of this matters because we have Maradona.”
That is what football fame can do. It also proved too heavy for the product of a shanty town in Buenos Aires; for a bonny lad from Tyneside, or for wee Georgie Best from east Belfast, to add another name to this pantheon of football’s vulnerable greats.
I’ve come across all three in various ways. Gazza, then a star player, was sitting next to me at a charity dinner, using the ‘c’ word time after time in his drunken drivel. Another time, another place, Best said nothing until he’d swallowed gallons of white wine gulp by gulp.
Maradona was in Dubai in a beach house close to one where my family were staying. My husband couldn’t resist joining in a game of football and gross and loud as Maradona was, he was proud as punch to have kicked around with him. Men!!
You might well say Gascoigne is a nutter, Maradona a buffoon and Best a libertine and you’d have a case but the strange thing is that, out of drink, they really care or cared about people.
Maradona, football’s very own Trump, is an exhibitionist who sticks his tongue out at the press and shows two fingers to people who disagree with him. Some people like him for his crude humour, although he hasn’t taken to tweeting in the middle of the night, not that I’ve heard of.
He also regards himself as a man of the Left, a pal of Cuban leader Fidel Castro and the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. He gives to good causes and curses capitalists, which would be all the more impressive if he hadn’t earned millions and owes the Italian taxman £30m.
As a club coach, he remains useless though. Friends found him jobs at lowly teams such as Deportivo Riestra in his home city where he was – and you have to take a deep breath here – the counselling coach. That’s a bit like appointing Theresa May as dance coach.
HAMMERS IN COURT
Over the past week, there has been considerable media interest in the club’s relationship with our landlord, E20 Stadium.
It’s a shame that the relationship is being played out in public as we are fully committed to resolving all disputes in a professional and respectful manner.
We accept that some disputes cannot be resolved through dialogue and so matters must then be aired in court proceedings so as to reach an outcome. We have every faith in the justice system and we have complete confidence in the rules governing High Court litigation.
We make no criticism whatsoever of any party who wishes to have their day in court and we will be pleased when there is an outcome to the matters which are before the courts.
We have every confidence in our case. We have no agenda other than to see justice done and we will make our case in court just as E20 will do later this year. That is the legal process.
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