BUENOS AIRES - Argentina coach Diego Maradona would welcome back playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme if he reconsidered his decision to quit the team. Riquelme, who previously quit Argentina in 2006 but backtracked less than a year later, announced his international retirement for a second time late on Tuesday. Angry at comments Maradona made about his playing style in a televised interview last week, Riquelme said they could not work together and that they did not share the same code of ethics. "If he comes to me and says: 'I made a mistake', I'd be delighted," Maradona told the Fox Sports cable channel. "My priority is the national team, the Argentina shirt comes above everything else and what has happened has happened. "This is not about Maradona and Riquelme, this is about the Argentina shirt and that is what is at stake. "I've done everything that's best for the national team. Riquelme fitted into my (tactical) scheme perfectly, this is a shame." The introverted Riquelme, 30, has split critics down the middle. Some admire the former Barcelona and Villarreal player's unhurried, elegant style and inch-perfect passing, while other others complain that the team revolves around him and that he brings the whole side down when he is off-form. Riquelme was left out of the 2002 World Cup by Marcelo Bielsa but the 2006 team was built around him by Jose Pekerman. Maradona said he was upset by Riquelme's outburst. "It's the worst thing he could say .... I would like to have talked to him. "I don't know what he means by saying I don't have a code of ethics," he added. "I don't deserve this, all I did was defend him. I didn't have a row with Roman."
12 March 2009
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