Argentina’s most beloved son, Diego Armando Maradona, is to be the new coach of Argentina’s national football team. The news comes just over a week after the team’s humiliating loss to Chile in its latest world cup qualifier, which prompted former coach Coco Basile’s resignation.
Maradona, often cited as the best player in the history of the game, is famous for his controversial “Hand of God” manouver, which resulted in an illegal but unpenalised goal against England in the quarter-final of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico City, along with the “Goal of the Century“, an amazing feat which saw him dodge and weave past six England players in that same match. While football aficionados appreciate the technical brilliance of the latter, Maradona’s countrymen are particularly fond of the Hand of God, expressing as it does, so eloquently, the national love for the “chanta” – the wise guy who cheats and gets away with it.
Maradona’s rags-to-riches story begins with a childhood spent in Buenos Aires’ slums, followed by a glittering career which saw him play for the iconic Buenos Aires team Boca Juniors, and later in Europe for the Barcelona and Napoli clubs. While playing for Naples, he was suspended after failing a doping test. He has had problems with cocaine addiction, but has lately been in good health. Argentines are hoping he is the dose of inspiration – and technical expertise – that the team needs to lift its game.