Seeking a rebirth in Mexico’s second tier
Asecond-tier club based in Sinaloa, home to one of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels, may not be the most obvious place for Diego Maradona to relaunch his coaching career. But the 57-year-old Argentinian insists he can bring success to Dorados de Sinaloa while restoring his own tarnished reputation at the same time.
Dorados play in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state in north-west Mexico that is home to the Sinaloa Cartel, who are described by American intelligence as “Mexico’s most powerful organisedcrime group”.
During his playing career, Maradona was dogged by allegations of cocaine addiction and links to the mafia, notably in Italy when he was with Napoli.
“I made a lot of mistakes in my life,” Maradona admitted at his first press conference in Mexico. “I want to give Dorados what I lost when I was sick.
“I was sick for 14 years. I was just consuming myself. Now I want to see the sun, I want to go to bed at night. I never even used to go to bed. I didn’t even know what a pillow was. That’s why I accepted the offer from Dorados.”
Hiring Maradona was the brainchild of Jorge Alberto Hank, the son of Jorge Hank Rhon, who is a former mayor of Tijuana and the son of the late Carlos Hank Gonzalez, one of Mexico’s wealthiest men. The family also owns top-flight side Club Tijuana.
“I spoke with him [Maradona], explained to him what it was about, who we are and where we want to go. I felt that he was convinced and determined,” said Jorge Alberto Hank. “It is not a circus, it is about a sporting challenge. We want Dorados to earn its promotion.”
After obtaining a work permit via a trip to Guatemala, Maradona insisted Dorados would have his full attention.
“I am here to work,” he says. “I am here to give my heart like I did in Fujairah [in United Arab Emirates], where I drove 300km a day to work.
“We are not here for a stroll. We didn’t come on vacation, we came to work...it will be great to win together.”
It remains unclear how Maradona will fulfil his responsibilities to Dynamo Brest, the Belarusian club who appointed him chairman after he left the UAE in April.
Since coaching Argentina at the 2010 World Cup, Maradona has also held positions at UAE side Al Wasl and Deportivo Riestra, a lower-tier club in Buenos Aires.
“We are going to look to win games, as I do not like to play defensive football,” adds Maradona. “When I took drugs it made me go backwards, it was a step back, and what football players have to do is go forward.”
The early signs are promising and Dorados won their first game under his stewardship, 4-1 against Cafetaleros de Tapachula, with Ecuadorian striker Vinicio Angulo scoring a hat-trick.
But controversy is unlikely to ever be far away. The following day Maradona clashed with the media, demanding privacy after he was filmed having lunch.
“When I took drugs it made me go backwards, it was a step back, and what football players have to do is go forward”
Success...celebrating against Cafetaleros de Tapachula
Acknowledgement... coach and players thank Dorados’ fans
Greeting...on his first day at training