Diego Maradona has offered to return to take charge of Argentina’s national team “for free” after admitting his hurt with his country’s World Cup exit.
Argentina opened their campaign with a disappointing draw against Iceland before a 3-0 defeat against Croatia. Although they beat Nigeria to make it into the knockout stage they were beaten 4-3 by France, leading to speculation about the future of coach Jorge Sampaoli.
“Yes, and I would do it for free,” Maradona told Telesur’s “De La Mano del 10” show on Monday, when asked whether he would return. “I would not ask for anything in exchange.
“Everyone is thinking that I’m happy about this [Argentina’s elimination] but I am not. They are wrong. It hurts my heart, it hurts my soul because I run so many miles with my shirt and with my flag… beating everyone, even FIFA, and leaving like that it’s something that I don’t accept.
“I wish God would give me the strength to go back to the pitch and play football. Years and life go by for everyone and they got me now at my 57-years-old, watching my national team, who have been thrashed by a team that I do not think is one of the best in the tournament. It makes me very bad to think that everything we build with a lot of effort and we have destroyed so easily.”
Maradona previously coached Argentina from 2008 to 2010 after replacing Alfio Basile to lead the Albiceleste in the 2010 World Cup. Argentina topped their group and beat Mexico in the round of 16 but were knocked out in the quarterfinals, losing 4-0 to Germany.
Days later, the AFA decided not to renew his contract but now Maradona has said that he would be willing to return if asked to replace Sampaoli.
Maradona also had some words of advice for Neymar after the Brazil international was criticised for his reaction to an incident with Miguel Layun during the second half of the Selecao’s 2-0 victory over Mexico on Monday.
“Neymar will have to be told: ‘you make us cry or you make us laugh,'” Maradona said. “Or it is a yellow card and a warning for the Mexican player [Layun] or it is simulation by Neymar.
“I believe that we should start to fine tune this because now in the stage of the World Cup the yellow cards count a lot.”