A year with Maradona – in his own words

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George Bush senior wanted him silenced – his vocal support of the Cuban Revolution was an embarrassment to the yanquis.

The Italian government wanted him silenced – his criticism of the Pope was causing considerable discomfort in the Vatican.

Now FIFA want to ban him for five games in the hope that it will silence him.

Look to history and learn, decision makers of FIFA. You have no chance.

It is a year to the day that Diego Armando Maradona faced the press for the very first time as the Argentina national team coach.

It has been nothing short of what we expected, so to honour El Diez, here’s a look back at the first 365 days of the Diego Era in the words of the Little Big Man himself.

“You can pull out all the surveys you want, but here it’s the boss who decides.”
On not being first, second, third or fourth choice for the job, pointing out that online straw polls don’t make decisions when it comes to football in Argentina. That’s what AFA president Julio ‘The Boss’ Grondona does.

“First things first, Argentina don’t play friendlies. They play international matches.”
Before naming the squad for his first game in charge – a friendly against Scotland. The phrase was met with cheers. In the press room.

“I’m not afraid of my crown falling.”
On whether he was worried about tarnishing his playing reputation.

“It’s Mascherano plus 10.”
On team selection just after taking over as coach.

“It’s Mascherano and Messi plus 9.”
On team selection a few months into the job.

“It’s Mascherano, Messi and Jonás plus 8.”
On team selection after the friendly with Russia.

“Obama got to where he is because he was allowed to choose the guys he wanted in his team, so why can’t I?”
On not being allowed to add Oscar Ruggeri to his backroom staff.

“It seems like he's got PMT. It's got to stop. What does he want me to do? Give him a kiss on the lips? Every time the national team play, I open Olé and there's Checho.”
On why he didn’t want national youth team coach Sergio ‘Checho’ Batista in his backroom staff.

“If Riquelme can’t beat his man, then he’s no good to me.”
Days before Riquelme grabbed his toys and quit the national team.

“Messi is the best in the world. He is my Maradona.”
On Leo Messi.

“What do you expect? Pelé made his debut with a boy.”
Brushing off criticism from Pelé. And he wasn’t talking about the legend’s first game…

“You don’t look like you do much exercise, so imagine if…”
Start of his response to a rather corpulent journalist who audaciously questioned/criticised Maradona over the squad not training in the morning.

“The turtle escaped.”
On Pablo Zabaleta arriving for international duty with an injury after being called up for the first time.

“The pitch I played on in Villa Fiorito was better than River’s.”
On the state of the pitch at River Plate.

“The dressing rooms look like they did in the 1978 World Cup.”
On the state of the facilities at River Plate.

“I am pleased that all Argentines, from any corner of the country, will be able to watch and enjoy football - which offers us so much happiness. This initiative, which permits all Argentines to see big sporting events for free, manages to pluralize the sport, its examples, and its lessons.”
Open letter allegedly written by Maradona in support of Fútbol Para Todos.

“When Peru equalized, I was dead. But I had forgotten about Saint Palermo.”
After Boca striker Martín Palermo’s Shawshank Redemption performance.

“I’m not quitting, nor am I leaving.”
Days after saying…

“I’ll talk to Grondona and see if I carry on, but it’ll be on my conditions.”
In the build-up to…

“To the ladies present, sorry, but to those who didn’t believe me, they can suck it. And they can keep on sucking it.”
Before starting press conference after securing qualification for the World Cup with away win over Uruguay. Moments before…

“You take it up the arse.”
Interjection while one local journalist was halfway through a question.

“I don’t have to apologise. Those who criticised me and the team are anti-Argentine and don’t want the team to qualify for the World Cup. I can’t forgive something like that.”

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