‘If mother said I’m the best, then, I am the best’ | india | Hindustan Times
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‘If mother said I’m the best, then, I am the best’

Speaking softly in a deep, gravelly voice, Maradona predictably called George Bush an assassin, couldn't resist a dig at the outgoing President's comment of people in poorer countries eating more and said that Barack Obama gives him hope. Read the excerpts...

india Updated: Dec 07, 2008 00:58 IST
Dhiman Sarkar

Journalists are not known to break into applause after a media conference but then, not often do they get Diego Maradona for over half-an-hour. Chest out, hair gelled and earring glistening in the winter afternoon sun, Maradona swaggered in for the media interaction, fooled with photographers and continued the charm offensive he's unleashed since landing in the early hours of Saturday.

Speaking softly in a deep, gravelly voice, Maradona predictably called George Bush an assassin, couldn't resist a dig at the outgoing President's comment of people in poorer countries eating more and said that Barack Obama gives him hope.

Maradona also said that after his contract ends with the Argentine federation he would be willing to serve India. Even if that was said for effect, it was in sync with the unpredictable legend not putting a foot wrong so far.

Excerpts:

Two years before Argentina won the World Cup in 1986, Carlos Bilardo brought a team here. Two years before 2010 you, now the Argentine coach, have come. Do you think this visit too would be a lucky omen?

I would like to say that at this moment it would be difficult to say…

Were you scared seeing so many people at the airport last night?

I have never been afraid in my life. But you could say that I was surprised.

Can Lionel Messi be the Maradona of 1986 in 2010? Also, between Ronaldinho and Messi, who would you say is the better player?

Ronaldinho has earned a lot… Messi has a long way to go, say 10 years to improve. Having said that, I am sure that he would be doing great… doing like I did in 1986 in 2010.

What do you enjoy more, being a player or a coach?

I enjoyed a lot while playing. I am now utilising the experience I got as a player in my current job as coach. I hope to make an equilibrium between my players.

What sort of pressure do you face as a coach?

No pressure, no tension in Argentina for me and for my boys. We all know we are a great team.

You have won everything there could be as a player but do you have any regrets?

I have lost a lot in life. I couldn't spend enough time with my daughters when they were growing up. I have also had a bad time in my life but I hope I can recover and make up for that.

Karl Heinz Rummennige said you are the greatest player of all time. Who according to you is the greatest, you or Pele?

(Laughs) What he said is his personal opinion but my mother considered me as the greatest footballer and if my mother said that then I am the greatest.

Who influenced you more in life, Carlos Bilardo or Fidel Castro?

Both have meant a lot to me. They have been with me in my bad times, both Carlos Bilardo and Fidel Castro… With Castro, I have smoked a lot of cigars, spoken a lot about football and politics.

Between the Serie A and the La Liga, which you would rate as the tougher of the leagues?

There is no league as tough as the La Liga.

One of the biggest challenges you now face is to stay fit. How do you do that and what is your message to the youngsters?

I think exercising regularly helps me stay fit and keeps me calm and gentle in life. You know the greatest experience in life is to be able to wake up and see your daughters. We live in the time of threat and there can be no greater joy than being able to spend time with your family. That's the best you can do.

Which is the best goal scored in the World Cup?

(Smiles) The one I scored with my hand.