Daniel Merolla –
As much as he was a genius with the ball at his feet, Diego Maradona’s coaching career has been far from distinguished and took a curious turn when he joined Mexican second-division outfit Dorados.
The man who led Argentina to just their second World Cup crown — according to many almost single-handedly — and whose brilliance inspired Napoli to the only two Serie A titles in their history, has ploughed a less successful coaching furrow.
With a cultured left foot and mesmerising dribbles he was twice signed for a world record fee, first by Barcelona and then Napoli.
He played for some of Argentina’s biggest and most prestigious clubs: Boca Juniors, Newell’s Old Boys and Argentinos Juniors, while also representing his country 91 times and scoring 34 goals.
“If I die, I want to be born again and play football to give the people joy,” he once said.
Father time has long caught up with the 57-year-old, though, as he wryly notes: “I have shorter legs than a picture frame, if I want to train I get torn all the way up to the shoulders.”
After the glittering playing highs, his coaching career, barring a two-year stint in charge of the Argentine national team, has been largely spent far away from the glitz and glamour.
This is not the first time he’s taken charge of a second-division side — he left Al Fujairah of the United Arab Emirates in May after failing to guide them to promotion despite seven wins in 11 matches.
Other spells at Deportivo Mandiyu and Racing Club in Argentina and UAE’s Al Wasl were unmitigated failures.
During the first two, from 1994-95, he won a combined three out of 23 matches and subsequently resumed his playing career, albeit briefly.
In this latest quest he can only improve the team’s performances given they have yet to win a game this season.
The club’s fans seem unperturbed by his poor coaching record, with one holding up a placard proclaiming: “Welcome Golden God!” as Maradona arrived at the Culiacan airport on Saturday.
One teenage fan, Bryan Felix, has faith that even at 57, Maradona can still improve.
“His other coaching experiences weren’t good but that’s the same for other coaches when they started,” he said.
Maradona’s first coaching experience was five years before Felix was even born. — AFP
Daniel Merolla –