|It remains unclear whether Maradona can be a successful manager without an adoring nation behind him [GETTY]
Argentinean legend Diego Maradona has signed a two-season contract to coach Dubai’s Al Wasl, the club announced on Monday.
“Al Wasl can now confirm soliciting the services of one of the greatest footballers of all time.”
The deal was finalised “after lengthy negotiations held with Maradona” said the club, adding that they hoped the 50-year-old former Argentina captain would take the team to new heights.
Maradona’s name had been mentioned in connection with several coaching jobs since he was sacked as Argentina coach in 2010, notably in the English Premier League and in Iran, but nothing came of these speculations.
Details of Maradona’s contract will be revealed at a news conference next month when he’s introduced to the club.
“The value of the contract is worthy of the stature and reputation of the great legend,” Marwan Bin Bayat, chairman of Al Wasl Football Co, said.
A source told Reuters on Sunday that the deal was 85 percent done.
Maradona captained Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986 and during his 21-year playing career won 91 caps and scored 34 goals.
His coaching career started at Textil Mandiyu in 1994, moving onto Racing Club the following year before he took charge of the Argentina national side in November 2008.
He subsequently oversaw an occasionally chaotic World Cup qualifying campaign that included a record 6-1 drubbing at altitude in Bolivia.
Initially, the side played well in South Africa and won all three group matches before beating Mexico in the last 16, but Germany thrashed the two-time champions 4-0 in the quarter-finals and Maradona was given the boot soon after.
The Argentine Football Association made the decision not to renew his contract when Maradona objected to changes in his backroom team.
While the passion Maradona installed in the Argentina players was evident for the world to see, his tactical skills as a coach have been largely untested.
The appointment of the outspoken Maradona is likely to capture the attention of Dubai’s sports media with the player considered one of football’s most controversial and newsworthy figures.
Following Argentina’s qualification for the 2010 World Cup, Maradona was banned from all footballing activity for two months after using abusive language at a live post-game press conference.
Maradona takes up the job with Al Wasl, who are fourth in the domestic league, 16 points behind leaders Al Jazira, with five matches to go.
Signing Maradona is the latest move by Dubai to flex its football muscles after a private firm Royal Emirates Group bought struggling Spanish La Liga club Getafe for up to $127.1 million last month.
Former Italy World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro plays for Dubai rivals Al Ahli.