Maradona hired at Argentine club Gimnasia
Argentina legend Diego Maradona has been hired to manage first division club Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata, the club announced on Thursday.
Maradona met with the club on Wednesday and the deal had been "80 percent" agreed to with only details missing, Maradona's lawyer Matias Morla told ESPN FC.
"Star of world football, Diego Armando Maradona, has signed his name and is the new coach of Gimnasia," the club said in a short statement on Thursday. "The deal runs until the end of the current season."
Morla had posted a video later on Wednesday of Maradona talking directly to Gimnasia fans and walking around to prove he is fit, after a right knee operation in late July.
"They say that I can't move. Look! Look!" stressed Maradona in the video. "Am I ready to coach or not? All of you Lobo [Gimnasia] fans, I hold you here [points to heart]."
¡Bienvenido, Welcome, Willkommen, Benvenuto, Ben-vindo, Bienvenue, Dobro pozhalovat, Diego!— GIMNASIA 🐺 (@gimnasiaoficial) September 5, 2019
Cada rincón del Club más hermoso del mundo, te saluda. #MaradonaAzulyBlanco #MaradonaEnGimnasia #Maradona #DiegoMaradona #GELP #Gimnasia #D10s pic.twitter.com/7ggfFZI3mX
The 58-year-old joined Mexican second division club Dorados de Sinaloa one year ago and led the team to consecutive Ascenso MX finals in his two seasons, losing both to newly promoted Atletico San Luis -- owned by Atletico Madrid -- after extra time in the second leg.
But Maradona left in mid-June in order to undergo a knee operation, following indications he was happy in Mexico and wanted to continue, with Dorados also content with how things had gone.
Gimnasia is dead last in the Argentine league after five rounds of matches in the new season, having lost its last four games. From the city of La Plata just outside Buenos Aires, it was formed in 1887 and claims to be the oldest professional football club in the Americas. They have won just one professional title, the Copa Centenario, in 1993.
It marks a working return to his homeland for the first time in almost a decade, following a spell in charge of the national side between 2008 and 2010. He also had stints as club coach at Mandiyu and Racing in the 1990s.
Maradona was taken into hospital in 2004 with severe heart and respiratory problems linked to cocaine use. He later underwent drug rehabilitation in Cuba and Argentina before a stomach-stapling operation in 2005 helped him lose weight.
Maradona had invited his Argentina teammate Gabriel Batistuta to be part of the coaching staff at Gimnasia and take training sessions, but the former striker declined the invitation due to a scheduled operation on Sept. 17 in Switzerland.
"I want to thank Diego Maradona for the offer I'd been waiting for for so long," wrote Batistuta on Twitter. "I wish him all the best!"
Information from Reuters was used in this report.