Remembering Diego Maradona’s time at Boca Juniors

Diego Maradona was an enigmatic character in his lifetime as a footballer, as a TV personality and as someone who was in and around football management.

The iconic midfielder, who broke through the ranks at Boca Juniors, accepted an offer in 2005 to be the sporting director of the club which made him famous.

It was a huge affair for Boca Juniors and for Argentina as a whole, as that was Maradona’s first official foray into football management.

Many hoped that Maradona, who was considered Argentina’s – and arguably the world’s – best footballer even after his retirement, would dip his toes into the waters of management and raise up the next generation of football stars.

Boca Juniors club president at the time, Mauricio Macri, was pleased and gave a lot of interviews on the appointment of Maradona as the club’s sporting director.

It was also a path to redemption for the then 44-year-old Maradona, who was just being reintegrated into life after undergoing drug rehabilitation the previous year and recovering from a gastric bypass operation earlier in that year.

Maradona joined Boca Juniors as director at a time when the club was in crisis. The Buenos Aires club was without a coach for a whole week before his appointment.

Maradona backed Alfio Basile to get the managerial role, which he did and succeeded at. The World Cup winner continued to offer great insights for Boca Juniors helping the team to a good run of victories in the Argentine top flight.

Then the problems started.

In typical Maradona fashion, problems followed the legend with him to his new role at Boca Juniors. The Argentine national team were in need of a manager at the time and Basile’s performance at Boca Juniors caught the Argentine FA’s eyes.

Maradona engaged in a war of words with the Argentine FA on his TV show and in other media platforms as the FA continued to chase after Basile as their preferred managerial choice.

In the end, Basile was appointed Argentina coach and Maradona was left incensed. He quit immediately it was confirmed, telling ESPN, “I’m not going to have more interference. It’s a closed chapter.”

He was even offered the job, but declined, citing other commitments as an excuse. He left with strong words to Basile’s successor, Ricardo La Volpe, telling him to respect the team’s current game, because as it was, “[Basile] won it all.”

The legend would then go one to have one of the most interesting managerial careers the sport has ever seen, until 2019, when failing health required he step down from active duty.

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