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Diego Maradona's managerial career may now be at an end

Diego Maradona: FIFA Player of the Century, World Cup icon, golden boot winner and proud scorer of the Goal of the Century. His playing career spanned 21 years, appearing for club and country 583 times and scoring 292 times.

Yet, ‘The Hand of God’ has never been far from controversy, especially off the field. After failing a drugs test in 1991, Maradona (pictured) was suspended from football for 15 months.  He also failed a drugs test at the 1994 World Cup and was sent home from the tournament in disgrace.

Following his retirement in 1997 at the age of 37, Maradona also turned to cocaine and suffered ill health before kicking the habit eight years later.

Having enjoyed an illustrious playing career, Maradona will always be heralded as one of, if not the best, footballer to ever grace the field.  The likes of Pele still do not come close to his talent and audacity on the ball.

Unfortunately, his playing skill hasn’t exactly been replicated as a coach and spats with the board, fans and the media have only served as a catalyst to his downfall.

Early days in Argentina

Maradona began his managerial career in 1994 with provincial club Deportivo Mandiyu, alongside then team-mate Carlos Fren.

His solitary season at the club saw them finish 20th in the Argentinean clausura (second half of the season), before he moved the following year to manage Racing Club, where he endured yet another disappointing season.

He then abandoned the notion of management for 13 years, focusing on recommencing a short playing career before finally retiring for good.

It wasn’t until 2008 when his venture into management continued, after pledging his interest in the Argentinean head coach role.

Following the resignation of former coach Alfio Basile, Maradona took charge of the national side to jubilant domestic support.

His status within his home country promised hope but the former global superstar could not deliver on expectations. His first three games in charge resulted in three wins, before a 6-1 thrashing against Bolivia tarnished the team’s reputation.

World Cup disappointment

The national team then suffered multiple losses in World Cup qualifiers and only just scraped through qualification.

Following the experience, Maradona became hostile to the world’s media, earning himself a two-month ban by FIFA from footballing activity after being quoted in a post-match conference, telling the press to “suck it and keep sucking it” after they questioned his managerial ability.

During the 2010 World Cup, the team experienced a mixture of encouraging and disappointing results. A 4-1 win against South Korea, a 1-0 triumph over Nigeria and a 2-0 success against Greece in their group secured progession, whilst a 3-1 win against Mexico in the last 16 pitted them against Germany in the quarter-finals.

Argentina’s run came to an end after a crushing 4-0 defeat to the Europeans, a huge disappointment for the team after their fifth place world ranking had promised far more success.

Controversy followed, after initial talks of a new four-year contract ultimately ended with the Argentine Football Association unanimously deciding not to renew his contract.

Maradona’s response was highly critical, claiming he had been "lied to" and "betrayed."

Mental weakness at Al Wasl

His attention soon switched to club management and Maradona’s next post was at United Arab Emirates outfit Al Wasl.

Inevitably controversy followed, leading to headlines in March for confronting opposition supporters and defending his wife against alleged fan abuse after a defeat to Al Shabab.

After only 14 months in charge, Maradona was sacked from his position following a disappointing season that saw Al Wasl finish eighth in the league, 28 points behind champions Al Ain.

Maradona and his coaching staff were dismissed after the club amassed 26 points from 22 matches, with only seven wins chalked up.

As a man notorious for his struggles with alcohol and drug abuse, as well as a reputation for hostile relations with both the media and his employers, his future in management must surely now be in doubt.

Undoubtedly one of the greatest footballing talents the world has ever seen, his playing days will certainly live longer in the memory than his managerial career.

By James Hartnett - Follow me on Twitter @JamesHartnett_

Follow Total Football on Twitter: @TotalFootball12

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