Impetuous Argentina Coach
Sure To Do, Say
By JEREMY BROWN
One Great Season
As history has taught us, there are no guarantees at the World Cup. However, I'm compelled to reject the lessons of the past and assert that this year there will be one absolute ironclad lock: that Diego Maradona will do or say something controversial, criminal or just downright weird.
Sure, it doesn't take a keen sense of prescience to suggest that a man with a track record of X-rated tirades, riot inciting, copious drug use and assaults of the verbal, physical, armed and vehicular varieties may be inclined to act impetuously. It's only a matter of time. But make no mistake: I love Maradona. That's why I'll be here throughout the tournament, cataloging every last foible, tantrum, meltdown and effusive, over-the-top celebration that makes the head coach of Argentina the most fascinating figure at the World Cup.
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To get the ball rolling, I've taken the liberty of constructing a timeline of every notable Maradona moment since he became head coach. This, I guarantee, is just the beginning ...
6/10/2010 – Bookmaker William Hill posts official betting odds for several insane yet eminently plausible Maradona scenarios: he's sent off during a match (6-1), he gets in a fistfight with one of his players (20-1).
5/28/2010 – Messi says he's close to Maradona, but you can tell he's still a little freaked out by him.
5/27/2010 – Maradona inspires mixed feelings throughout Buenos Aires by promising to run naked through the streets if Argentina win the Cup.
5/27/2010 – Immune to the lessons of England’s 2006 WAG debacle, Maradona permits his players get their sex on during the finals.
5/23/2010 – Maradona demands £1,400 worth of bathroom renovations for his private quarters in South Africa, including two luxury bidet toilets featuring heated seats, a warm air blow-dryer and front and rear grundle wetters.
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5/19/2010 – Shortly after announcing his final 23-man roster, Maradona drives over a cameraman's lower leg, then proceeds to shout at the injured guy: "What an asshole you are. How can you put your leg there where it can get run over, man?"
5/18/2010 – Following Maradona's criticism of Grondona for canceling a lucrative friendly against Saudi Arabia, Grondona's son Humberto threatens to "crush" and "get rid of" Diego.
5/12/2010 – Maradona omits international veterans and Champions League winners Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso from his 30-man provisional roster, opting instead for unproven youngsters and unproven 30-year-olds.
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5/11/2010 – Maradona is forced to answer claims that he had a hand in dislodging predecessor Alfio Basile from the head coaching position. Basile's son, Alfito, later Twitters: "At the World Cup, Argentina will be coached by a conspirator."
4/9/2010 – Never one to hyperbolize, Maradona suggests that Lionel Messi, while in the midst of a torrid scoring spell for Barcelona, is simply "having a kick-about with Jesus."
3/30/2010 – Maradona is rushed to the hospital for emergency plastic surgery after his Chinese Shar-Pei goes Cujo on his upper lip.
11/15/2009 – Maradona is suspended for two months for telling reporters, among other things, to "suck it and keep sucking it."
10/16/2009 – Flushed from the qualifying victory over Uruguay, Maradona tells reporters to "suck it and keep sucking it."
10/10/2009 – Maradona's enigmatic belly flop in celebration of Martin Palermo's qualification-saving last-minute winner against Peru.
10/6/2009 – Unhappy with the perceived meddling of Bilardo, Maradona threatens to walk.
9/23/2009 – Maradona accuses technical director and 1986 World Cup winning coach Carlos Bilardo of trying to bring down Argentine Footabll Association president Julio Grondona, adding to the team's internal problems.
9/18/2009 – Indebted to the Italian government for £28,000 in unpaid back taxes from his time at Napoli, Maradona gets a visit from police at fat camp with orders to seize any valuables "within plain sight." They swipe his £36,000 diamond earrings. Palermo forward Fabrizio Miccoli later reveals himself to be the buyer.
9/15/2009 – Maradona checks into a northern Italian weight-loss clinic to combat growing stress and rotundity during a dodgy qualifying campaign.
3/27/2009 – Maradona reopens the feud with hated old rival Pele following the Brazilian's remarks that the Argentine coach is not to be admired because of his past drug use. In a somewhat disproportionate riposte, Maradona intimates that Pele lost his virginity to a man.
3/11/2009 – Argentina's mercurial playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme quits the national team following public criticism from Maradona.
2/19/2009 – Maradona becomes a grandfather as Argentina striker Sergio Aguero successfully assures he always has a spot as long as his father-in-law is in charge.
11/19/2008 – Scotland assistant manager Terry Butcher, who was England's captain at the time of the Hand of God match, publicly announced he'd never forgive the Argentine for his dishonest goal. When asked about it following a 1-0 friendly Albiceleste win over the Scots, Maradona gets a laugh out of the press corps by replying "who is Butcher?"
11/18/2008 – Maradona says this: "I will not go into controversy. Neither with (FIFA president Sepp) Blatter nor with (UEFA president Michel) Platini, nor with anyone else. We have to tone things down."
11/3/2008 – To much national fanfare and many skeptical pundits, Maradona is announced head coach of Argentina.
Click here for Jeremy's bio and an archive of his previous stories.