'Gimnasia is saved' – New coach Maradona pledges to rescue Argentine club

The Argentine legend gave an impassioned speech as his presentation to fans of the club, where he is the new coach

Diego Maradona promised to fight to save Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata’s season during an emotional presentation to supporters after he was unveiled as head coach. 

Maradona fought back the tears as he addressed the crowd at Juan Carmelo Zerillo Stadium, where the Argentina legend has been given his first job in his homeland since leaving the national team in 2010. 

The 58-year-old made a bizarre claim that ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter and former president of the Argentine Football Association (AFA) Julio Grondona prevented him from coaching in Argentina, while promising he would work hard to turn Gimnasia’s fortunes around. 

Gimnasia are bottom of the Superliga and Maradona, who will be in charge until the end of the season, told the supporters who greeted him: “I did not expect all this. When I entered here, when I saw all this, I cannot believe it. 

“We are going to fight it with the kids. God willing, Gimnasia is saved. 

“I told the AFA that after the national team they crossed me out. In 1994 with [Sepp] Blatter, [former CONMEBOL secretary Eduardo] De Luca and Grondona, they erased me. 

“How can I explain in words the sensations I’m feeling. When I entered I began to cry because I have no words. But my old woman appeared and calmed me down. 

“Obviously I wanted to coach in Argentina. There were two people, Blatter and Grondona, pestering the presidents so they wouldn’t hire me.” 

Maradona’s coaching career has included spells at Deportivo Mandiyu de Corrientes, Racing Club, Argentina, Al Wasl, Al-Fujairah and Dorados, but he claimed he had been denied opportunities to coach at club level in Argentina.

Gimnasia face Racing Club on September 15 in Maradona’s first game in charge, and after his presentation he told a news conference: “I want to take tomorrow to confirm the whole coaching staff and what we are going to do during the week before the game with Racing. 

“I wanted to open the door now that I am part of Argentine football, because when the others were here I was not in anyone’s folder. 

“There are leaders who told me ‘I went to look for you after the World Cup but they crossed you out and they caused damage’. 

“But this is already past, now we have to work, work and we have no other option. I told all my players.” 

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