29 Oct 2008

Maradona 'set to coach Argentina'

9:54 pm on 29 October 2008

Argentina legend Diego Maradona could be set for a sensational return to football after claiming he has been offered the role of national coach.

The 1986 World Cup-winning skipper held talks with the Argentina Football Association on Tuesday and is set to continue discussions on Wednesday, the BBC reports.

The 47-year-old said: "The offer attracted me a lot. As soon as it is confirmed I will start working."

Maradona has had only two brief spells as a coach in Argentina.

If Maradona does take over he will succeed Alfio Basile, who resigned earlier in October after a World Cup qualifying defeat to Chile.

Widely regarded as one of the best players in the history of the sport, Maradona is an iconic figure in Argentina after a remarkable 21-year playing career in which he hit new heights of brilliance on the field and plumbed depths of despair away from the action.

After making his professional debut as a 16-year-old for Argentinos Juniors, he went on to play for his beloved Boca Juniors before spells in Europe with Barcelona, Napoli and Sevilla.

Maradona's unique skills with the ball at his feet made him a superstar, and he is idolised by Napoli fans for almost single-handedly winning the Serie A title and the Uefa Cup for the unfashionable club.

'Hand of God' and health problems

But his most memorable achievements came with the national side - the 1986 World Cup tournament becoming synonymous with his name.

His first goal of the 2-1 win came courtesy of an outrageous handball which he later described as "the hand of God"; but the second is said by many to be the best goal ever scored as he danced past five England players before poking the ball past Peter Shilton.

But Maradona's life away from football has been anything but straightforward, with a long-running addiction to cocaine undermining his genius.

The second failed drugs of his career saw him sent home from the 1994 World Cup in disgrace, and since retiring at the age of 37, Maradona has suffered numerous health problems.

Battles with his drug addiction, alcoholism and obesity saw him suffer a heart attack in 2004 which put him in intensive care, while a later stomach-stapling operation saw him lose 30kg of excess weight.

Maradona is a virtual novice in coaching terms, with just short spells with Argentine clubs Deportivo Mandiyu and Racing Club in the 1990s on his CV.

But with his health largely restored, Maradona now looks set to take the reins as coach of the national team.