Diego Maradona is remembered for a host of great moments.
Lifting Argentina to the 1986 FIFA World Cup was understandably the pinnacle, and it was a feet the little maverick almost achieved once again four years later in Italy.
His club career was also littered with highlights, notably leading Napoli to two Serie ‘A’ titles during seven magical years with the Azzurri.
But, with every high seemed to come a shuddering low. For all his efforts in ’86, it will be his ‘Hand of God’ that is remembered by most. The world’s greatest player resorted to the most famous piece of cheating in history.
And eight years later, a failed drugs test at USA ’94 saw Maradona excluded from the national team in disgrace. It proved to be the end of his international career, although the shock managerial call came from his country in 2008.
Failure in South Africa saw the dream of winning the prestigious trophy as a player and manager come to an end, but it hasn’t spelled the end of the mad man from Buenos Aires.
His latest antics come at Al Wasl, a UAE Pro-League side who handed the reigns to the 51-year-old last May. It didn’t get off to a great start though, with a car crash back home in Argentina just two months later.
And now, after less than a year in charge, his antics took another turn for the worse after he ‘mounted’ the stands. The Argentine legend was happy to justify his antics though, branding Al Shabab’s fans cowards after they allegedly started abusing players’ wives and girlfriends.
"Some people are cowards. They only attack women and have no courage to confront men," he’s quoted as saying in Gulf News.
"I accept defeat but I am not happy with what happened against the fans tonight."
Undoubtedly a marketing ploy of sorts by the Zabeel Stadium outfit, Maradona penned a two-year deal with the Dubai-based outfit. Club chairman Marwan Bin Bayat stated at the time that the contract was ‘worthy of the stature and reputation of the great legend’.
If the idea was to put Al Wasl on the map, then they’ve certainly achieved that here, with Maradona acting as a magnet for controversy – and headlines – wherever he goes.
In addition to the opening incidents mentioned, Maradona has also been handed a suspended jail sentence for shooting an air rifle at journalists in 1994, and a 15-match ban three years prior to that following a positive drugs test for cocaine.
The drug-habit would also come back to haunt the legend in 2004, with an addiction to alcohol also playing its part in a massive heart attack that almost cost him his life.
One thing you can’t deny about Maradona is his ability to come back from great controversy. It’s something he’s achieved throughout the past three decades, and will probably do so again here.
That said, results on the pitch haven’t been great as Al-Wasl sit fifth in the Pro-League – 15 points off leaders Al Ain.
Not that being shown the door would be a disaster. His legacy within the game almost certainly means another chairman eager to hit would take a gamble on one of world football’s biggest and boldest names.
Expect to see another Maradona headline coming your way soon.
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