18 October 2013
Argentine football legend Diego Maradona has admitted he wants to make a return to management and has set his sights on succeeding Rafael Benitez as Napoli boss.
Maradona, arguably the greatest footballer of all time, is currently working here in the UAE as a global Ambassador of the Dubai Sports Council – a position he has held since September 2012.
Prior to his current role, Maradona’s most recent managerial position was at Arabian Gulf League club Al Wasl, where the 52-year-old spent an eventful 2011-12 season in charge before receiving his marching orders.
Maradona recently extended his contract with the Dubai Sports Council for one year, but the Argentine revealed that his ambition is to return to Napoli and lead them as their head coach.
Maradona was Napoli’s stand-out star when they won their only two league titles in 1987 and 1990, and the former forward says he would happily succeed Benitez when the time comes.
"When Benitez leaves I would like to take over at Napoli," said Maradona, who claimed he was currently unemployed as a coach because people fear him.
"Coaches are changing all over the place, from Spain to Italy, England to Russia. But there are people who are afraid of me. That’s why I’m not coaching."
Maradona was talking on his return to Italy where he was receiving a special award from sports daily newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport. The Argentine has now settled the highly-publicised and long-running dispute with authorities over unpaid taxes.
The former Argentina coach also took the opportunity to reopen the age-old debate over who is the greatest footballer of all time.
Maradona polled 53.6 percent of the votes to Pele’s 18.5 percent in an internet vote in 2000 for FIFA’s Footballer of the Century. Pele, however, was voted Football Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) a year earlier and also voted the century’s top player in a poll of former Ballon d’Or winners.
Maradona insisted: “Me against Pele, I’ve been voted the winner of that one.
"Pele was second, even in Brazil when he finished behind Ayrton Senna as their best athlete of all time."
Napoli has put the finishing touches on the €12 million capture of Real Madrid defender Raúl Albiol, according to ‘La Gazzetta dello Sport’, which reports that the defender has signed a 4-year contract with his new club.
The Italian sports newspaper claims that, in addition to thrashing out terms for Albiol, Napoli and Real Madrid have also discussed a possible deal for Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuaín.
At Napoli, Albiol is set to link up with former Real Madrid teammate José Callejón and Spanish tactician Rafa Benítez, whom he played under briefly at Valencia.