Don’t get me wrong, I love America.
And more importantly, I love American sports.
But as good as it gets in the United States, we just can’t keep up with the rest of the world when it comes to deranged athletic icons.
The United States doesn’t have a Diego Maradona.
Imagine Babe Ruth mixed with a little Lawrence Taylor, Michael Irvin and a dash of Ron Artest. Then we might come close to a Diego Maradona.
Maradona has been an Argentine hero for three decades. He’s done it all, including winning the 1986 World Cup. And now, he wants to ascend to a post every bit as important as the country’s presidency.
He wants to coach the Argentina national team.
Alfio Basile resigned as national team coach following Argentina’s 1-0 loss to Chile in a World Cup qualifier last week (it was their only defeat so far this year and their first against their neighbors since 1973).
Maradona, who had two brief coaching stints in the mid-1990s with Deportivo Mandiyu and Racing Club, immediately threw his name in the hat.
“I would be really delighted, who wouldn’t, to coach the national team,” he said. “I am completely willing and at the disposal of the Argentina team.”
While Maradona is an outsider for the post, apparently he is being considered for an assistant’s position or advisory role.
“Perhaps I am behind in the betting, but I am without a doubt the No. 1 in the hearts of Argentines. I couldn’t ask for anything better. I would be in seventh heaven.”
Seeing as he had been reported dead three times within a month when he was hospitalized for hepatitis, seventh heaven might not be so far away.
I once wrote that a movie detailing Maradona’s life would be something like “Requiem For A Dream” meets “Evita.”
Now for those of you non-soccer fans that haven’t kept up with the story of Diego Maradona since you last saw him waddle out as a 36-year-old, overweight, shell of himself for Boca Juniors, you might be curious as to what he’s been up to.
- He spent time in detox clinics in Switzerland and Cuba, where he palled around with Fidel Castro.
- He suffered a major heart attack during a cocaine overdose in 2004. During his stay in the hospital, a nurse was fired for taking a picture of Maradona with her cell phone.
- He was reported dead three times during a hospital stint for hepatitis in 2007.
- A year later, he had gastric bypass surgery.
- He spent time in a psychiatric clinic.
- Maradona got tattoos of Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and wouldn’t mind another of Venezuela president Hugo Chavez.
- In December, he presented a signed shirt with a message of support to the people of Iran. It is currently displayed in the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ museum. However, we cannot confirm reports that Maradona got a tattoo of Ahmadinejad on his taint.
- He expressed his admiration for the Red, White and Blue: “I hate everything that comes from the United States. I hate it with all my strength.”
- Fans started the Church of Maradona on Maradona’s 43rd birthday and it now boast thousands of members.
- He shot an air-compressed rifle at reporters he said invaded his privacy.
- He owes the Italian government 36 million euros (It’s a good thing he charges for interviews).
“The Italian tax office has not managed to obtain from Maradona more than 0.11 percent of what he owes the public treasury: 36 million euros,” said President of the Italian Tax Association Vittorio Carlomango. “It’s deflating. Of the 36 million euros, there’s 22.4 million euros of interest.”
Maradona has paid 42,051.05 euros and two luxury watches.
He might have been confused by the exchange rate. In Argentina, a luxury watch from Diego nets a first born in return.
Remember, Maradona was booted from Italy’s Serie A for testing positive for cocaine.
Former Argentina forward Jorge Valdano has come out and said he’s against a Maradona appointment.
“Diego has no experience, apart from sporadic and short interventions.”
(ix-nay on the interventions-ay)
“I have maximum respect for him, but he hasn’t done any background work, which is a basic necessity for coaches who aspire to the highest level. It appears risky to me. It’s difficult to land on your feet as coach of the national team.”
Odds are on former Boca Juniors coach Carlos Bianchi to get the nod, but Diego hasn’t given up hope.
“I know I don’t have many chances because Carlos Bianchi is ahead of me in the polls, but the dream is intact,” Maradona said.
See, polls. It is a presidential election.
How I wish Chris Matthews and Wolf Blitzer would tackle this one.