Maradona: My chapter has ended

BUENOS AIRES - Argentina coach Diego Maradona said his "chapter had ended" on Monday, although the country's local football association and a close friend told Reuters he had not resigned.

"It's done, my chapter has ended," Cronica newspaper quoted Maradona as saying, two days after Germany's resounding 4-0 win over Argentina in the World Cup quarter-finals. "I gave everything I had."

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A spokesman for the Argentine Football Association (AFA) said Maradona had not officially resigned and that AFA President Julio Grondona would meet him after the World Cup had finished.

A close friend of Maradona's told Reuters: "I still can't confirm it, (the resignation) is something that's being discussed."

The friend said Maradona's decision would be announced during a press conference but he did not say when.

"Diego is at home with his family thinking this over," he said.

Maradona's assistant and former international team mate Alejandro Mancuso said he believed Maradona would continue as Argentina's coach.

"Knowing Diego it's hard to think that he'd step down after not reaching the goal of winning the World Cup," Mancuso told local radio. "We can't dismiss all the good things he's done."

Maradona returned to Buenos Aires along with the rest of the national team on Sunday, a day after Germany trounced Argentina to advance to the World Cup semi-finals.

Argentines still suffering from their team's stunning loss debated whether Maradona should remain coach of the national squad.

In some online polls conducted by the country's main newspapers, most respondents say Maradona should quit.

But Maradona, who rose from a slum to win the 1986 World Cup and took over the team as coach in 2008, still has plenty of supporters.

In a public appearance, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez urged him to stay on. "Hang in there, Diego!" she said. "No Argentine has given us some much happiness on the soccer field like Diego Maradona."

Thousands of fans greeted the national team at the airport on Sunday, chanting Maradona's name.

"For me Maradona is great," said Enrique Gonzalez, 40. "He had a lot of experience playing in World Cups. What he didn't know about coaching he had in mystique and courage, so he was the best coach for us."

Others though, said Maradona, who had only two brief coaching stints before the national squad, clearly lacked the credentials.

"He's the best player but he wasn't prepared as a coach," said Jose Parra, 40, a factory worker.

Maradona has an agreement with the AFA until 2011 when Argentina will host the Copa America.

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