Maradona set for Hampden return

By Brian McLaughlin

Argentine football legend Diego Maradona today looks set to be appointed manager of the Argentine national team.

Maradona, who turns 48 tomorrow, captained Argentina to FIFA World Cup glory in 1986 via the infamous ‘Hand of God’ incident which dumped England out of the tournament at the quarter final stage, will succeed Alfio Basile, who stepped down earlier this month, citing personal reasons.

Maradona said: “The offer is very attractive. As soon as it is confirmed, I will start working but I can say I am very proud to take charge of the national team.”

If appointed, the Argentine legend’s first game in charge of the Argentine national team will come in a friendly match against Scotland at Hampden Park, Glasgow, on November 19th, the ground in which Maradona scored his first international goal in 1979. Maradona, or “El Diego” as he is affectionately known by those in his homeland, will be hoping for a repeat of the scoreline that day, which saw Argentina run out 3-1 winners over the Scots.

In addition to the appointment of Maradona, Carlos Bilardo, the manager who was in charge of Argentina’s successful 1986 FIFA World Cup campaign, as well as their run to the final in 1990, looks likely to take up the position of director in the new set-up.

This comes despite Maradona’s well-documented problems with drug abuse. This first came to the attention of the public after he was sent home from the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States after testing positive for a banned substance.

More recently, Maradona was admitted to hospital in Buenos Aires in April 2004 after suffering a major heart attack, and again in March 2007 when he was treated for hepatitis and the effects of alcohol abuse.