I see no possible way this ends badly. Argentina, which has been sent home ignominiously from the past four World Cup soccer tournaments, has turned to its largest celebrity in terms of land mass to return the nation to its glorious past. Diego Maradona, considered by many to be the greatest soccer player ever, has taken the reins of the Argentine national team as it prepares for the 2010 World Cup. Of course it was Maradona who helped usher in Argentina's string of World Cup futility when he was sent home from the 1994 competition after failing a drug test. He retired in 1997.

After retiring 11 years ago, Maradona has remained in the spotlight primarily as the country’s leading real-life soap opera star, waging a series of well-publicized battles with drugs, obesity, the news media and past lovers. Now, the hopes and dreams of 40 million soccer-mad Argentines will rest on the shoulders — much-slimmed after a stomach-stapling operation in 2005 — of a man who, in the words of the local newspaper columnist Horacio Pagani, will be “the least prepared manager in the history of international soccer.”


Maradona was not fully vetted, as they say. His coaching experience includes running two teams, Mandiyú of Corrientes in 1994 and Racing Club in 1995, "without much success." Also on his resume: Became addicted to cocaine in 1983; major heart attack due to cocaine overdose in 2004; gastric bypass surgery in 2005; treatment for hepatitis and effects of alcohol abuse in 2007. He became friends with Fidel Castro while in treatment in Cuba (has portrait of Castro tattooed on left leg), and is also a supporter of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Fun Maradona quote: "I hate everything that comes from the United States. I hate it with all my strength." Maradona takes over the national team in December, at which time members of The Church of Maradona can get down to their serious praying. Seriously guys, you're going to have your hands full for the next two years. An Earthly Realm For A Soccer God [New York Times]