Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona insists he has left his off-the-pitch issues behind as he was formally introduced as the new coach of Mexican second-tier club Dorados de Sinaloa.
This comes two months after footage was posted on social media showing Maradona disoriented and being helped to climb stairs at Argentina’s 2-1 win over Nigeria during the World Cup.
Hence the choice of Durados in Sanaloa state, infamous for being one of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels, surprised some.
Yet, while speaking in the Sinaloa state capital, Culiacan, Maradona ensured fans that he didn’t come to party.
“I am going to talk now to the people of Culiacan and tell them that we did not come for fun, we did not come for vacation,” Maradona said.
If the people are with us, and with what I can inject emotionally for the players, it is going to be hard to beat us.
Dorados are currently 13th in Mexico’s second division, and despite the side being winless after their opening six league games, Maradona said he is fully believes he can turn the tide. “We are going to look to win games, as I do not like to play defensive football.
“I want to give Dorados what I lost when I was sick. I have been for about 14 years, and today I want to see the sun and I want to go to sleep at night,” he followed.
Maradona, one of the sport’s all-time greats, was suspended by FIFA after testing positive for cocaine in 1991 and also tested positive for doping during the 1994 World Cup. He was later hospitalised in 2000 and in 2004 for heart problems attributed to cocaine use.
I had a lot of missteps in my life. I assume this responsibility like someone who holds a child in their arms.
“When I took [drugs] ... It made me go backwards, it was a step back,” he explained.
The Argentine, though, believes Dorados came calling at the the perfect time.
“I never even used to go to bed. I didn’t even know what a pillow was. That’s why I accepted the offer from Dorados.
“I’m taking on this responsibility as if it were a new child. Ever since I kicked my illness, when I was wasting away... when I was using I was falling apart. That all stopped thanks to my daughters.”
While residents of the wealthy neighbourhood Maradona planned to live have reportedly blocked his move, Durados fans are mostly supportive. “We trust you, Diego. We don’t criticise, we only admire,” one fan’s sign said.