“Scorpio is intense. It has an emotional energy that is unique in the Zodiac. If you use it constructively, it can help you become a great leader. It doesn’t bite its tongue and it can be very critical.”
Diego Maradona’s description of the star sign is one that could just as easily be applied to him. The Argentinian legend, who turns 50 later this year, possesses all those characteristics and more. Considered by many to be the greatest footballer that ever walked the Earth, he is now preparing for the most searching examination of his eventful tenure as coach of Argentina: the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
Aside from his playing skills and status as a footballing idol, Maradona is also famed for his way with words. Sometimes blunt, sometimes irascible, but never dull, Maradona has made many an unforgettable appearance in front of the microphones, sometimes leaving his audience open-mouthed, just as he once did on the field of play.
FIFA.com rounds up a selection of El Pelusa’s most outspoken and revealing observations on life and football.
“My first dream is to play in the World Cup, and my second is to win it.”
A 12-year-old Maradona, appearing on camera for the first time, on his footballing ambitions
“Yes, I am a ‘blackhead’ and proud of it. I'll never forget where I came from.”
Maradona on his roots, employing a derogatory term (cabecita negra) used in Argentina to refer to people from poor backgrounds
“You are never in control with drugs, they control you. Anyone who says, ‘I can handle them’ is either lying or deluding themselves.”
Maradona on his drug addiction, prior to entering a rehabilitation programme
“I’ve packed 70 years into my 40. I’ve seen it all. I went from a dirt track in Villa Fiorito to the top of the world. When I got there, I had to figure out for myself what to do. Nobody ever told me what it would be like or how to handle it.”
Maradona on the trials of fame
“I was and always will be happy with my Hand of God goal against the English. I offer them a thousand apologies – that’s the truth - but I’d do it again a thousand times.”
Maradona on his opening goal against England in the quarter-finals at Mexico 1986
“I tried to find happiness playing football, and through it I tried to bring happiness to others. Football is the most beautiful game in the world. Yes, I made mistakes and I paid the price, but you can never tarnish football.”
Maradona opens up to the fans at a game held in his honour in November 2001
“I haven’t seen him lately. I tried to call him but it’s easier talking to Obama than Lio. I’ve heard he's having a good pre-season and that’s great to know.”
Maradona on Messi, in the build-up to the South Africa 2010 qualifier against Brazil
“The worst has already happened. I was at the bottom of the sea and my daughters pulled me out. I can get up every day now, which is an achievement when you consider that I used to go three whole days either awake or asleep. Seeing my grandson is like touching the sky. Everything else pales in comparison.”
Maradona on what life means to him now, in an interview with FIFA.com
“When we won the World Cup in Mexico I hardly let go of the Trophy. You ask me if I’ll be holding on to it if we win in South Africa? No. Masche (Javier Mascherano) will have that honour. And he won’t want to let go either. Mark my words. He’ll be doing the same thing.”
Maradona on how it feels to hold the FIFA World Cup Trophy
“Winning the World Cup is the most beautiful thing there is. I tell the players that 30 days of sacrifice just to kiss that cup is nothing in a man’s life. It’s like touching the sky.”
Maradona on his obsession with winning the FIFA World Cup
“I’m not going to die over that, I’ll sleep just as well if Butcher doesn’t shake my hand. I would remind everyone that England beat Germany in a Final with a goal that didn’t go over the line. We all saw it and no one said anything. But the thing is there weren’t any TV replays then. Butcher is in no position to judge me.”
Maradona responds to Terry Butcher, the former England international and ex-Scotland assistant coach (still angered at the Hand of God goal, Butcher said he would not be shaking El Diez’s hand before the Scots’ friendly with Argentina at Hampden Park in November 2008, Maradona’s first game in charge)
“I’d like to dedicate our qualification to the people of Argentina with all my heart, but only to them, to the people who believed in me. There are some people who don’t deserve it, and they know who they are. I don’t forget things, and I’ve got one thing to say to the people who didn’t believe in this team, who treated me like a piece of rubbish: Today we are in the World Cup finals.”
Maradona rounds on his critics at the controversial press conference that followed his side’s 1-0 victory in Uruguay, a result that secured their place in South Africa.