BUENOS AIRES - Diego Maradona, out of work since Argentina went out of the World Cup six weeks ago, might consider managing an English club if his chances of returning to the national team disappeared altogether.
Walter Soriano, his representative in Europe, was quoted on Sunday as saying that if Aston Villa, without a manager since Martin O'Neill quit this week, made Maradona an offer he might "be very open to the idea of coming to England."
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A close friend of Maradona's in Buenos Aires, however, told Reuters it was unlikely the man whose "Hand of God" goal helped knock England out of the 1986 World Cup was thinking of a move to the Premier League.
"It's not a question of him being interested in coaching a team in England right now... I'm not saying it's impossible but I see it as unlikely," the friend, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.
"He would still put Argentina over any other team and he doesn't consider the door to the national team closed."
Maradona did not have his contract extended after his team's 4-0 World Cup quarter-final defeat by Germany having refused the condition that he should drop some of his coaching staff.
Sergio Batista, a team mate of Maradona's when Argentina won the 1986 world title, is in charge on an interim basis and watched Argentina beat Ireland 1-0 on Wednesday in his first match at the helm.
Soriano said in the Sunday Mercury newspaper of Birmingham where Aston Villa are based: "I think Diego would be very open to the idea of coming to England and managing Aston Villa.
"If the owner Randy Lerner wants to make him a serious offer, I am sure he would get a very positive response."
Maradona's links with England go back long before the 1986 quarter-final when he scored twice in Argentina's 2-1 win.
He almost joined Sheffield United in the mid-1970s as a raw teenager but was too expensive for the northern club, who instead took Alex Sabella, now coach of Estudiantes.
Maradona also played one match for Tottenham Hotspur in a testimonial at White Hart Lane in London for former Argentina team mate Ossie Ardiles shortly before the 1986 finals.comments