Fired up Argentina legend Diego Maradona has vowed to make it “an impossible task” for anyone to beat his Fujairah side, as one of football’s most-iconic figures prepares to end a long absence from the dugout.
Maradona, 56, stunned the globe a week ago when a surprise one-season deal was announced to coach the Wolves for 2017/18. This means the storied ex-Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli superstar will be in charge of an outfit in First Division League, five years since he was sacked by top-flight Al Wasl.
Speaking at Al Diar Siji Hotel in his new city on the east coast of the UAE, El Pibe de Oro reinforced an ambition to guide the Wolves back to glory.
“I want to achieve the goals and desires of the people of Fujairah, as well as all our aspirations,” said the controversial World Cup 1986 winner with La Albiceleste.
“Fujairah is my top-priority project and I will give it all my time, nothing else will distract me.
“Those who think of beating Fujairah will have to beat Maradona. I will make this an impossible task for everyone.
“Mentally, we are very strong. From the first moment we spoke, this house has become my house.
“There is a great blend here, between the technical and tactical aspects. I have been provided great support to achieve success here.
“I have received many other offers. But as I said, honestly, I am a son of Dubai and son of the UAE.”
Fujairah finished fourth last term, two places and nine points away from the promotion spots. They enjoyed a two-year spell in the Arabian Gulf League from 2014-16.
The man trying to lead them back to the Emirates’ premier competition is widely considered one of the sport’s greatest players, but a coach with a patchy record.
Despite this chequered reputation, Maradona insists he was not short of options to get back into management. His previous trophyless tenure with Wasl was terminated midway through a two-year arrangement.
He said: “I received invitations from many places, Kazakhstan and Russia for example.
“But I have told my agent to stop, as my only agent now is Fujairah.
“Football doesn’t know fear, it knows joy and entertainment. Unfortunately, I am 56-years old and I am not able to play anymore.”
Maradona has spent the last seven years living in Dubai after his contract with Argentina was terminated following a disappointing quarter-final exit at World Cup 2010.
Apart from Wasl, who he yesterday claimed “fooled” him, Maradona also worked as an ambassador for Dubai Sports Council. A penchant for quarrelsome behaviour continued throughout this time and reappeared once again.
“The UAE saved me from [disgraced ex-FIFA president Sepp] Blatter and [deceased former Argentine Football Association president Julio] Grondona,” Maradona claimed. “They opened the doors when all other doors were closed because of them.
“It is not about money, it is about feelings.”