x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Adios, Diego

Diego Maradona: not a great coach, perhaps, but there was never a dull moment while he was around, and we'll miss him.

When on Tuesday evening "Al Wasl" became one of the top trends on Twitter even in the UK, you knew it must have been big news. And it was.

The Dubai-based football club had just sacked their coach, the legendary Argentine Diego Maradona, midway through his two-year contract. As with everything Maradona has done in his career, this became headline news.

His time in the UAE was nothing if not colourful, and often very endearing. There were the touchline histrionics at refereeing decisions; wild goal celebrations; the warm embracing of his players; and of course the confrontation with fans who had taunted some Al Wasl players' wives.

But in the end, the results where it really mattered, on the pitch, were just not good enough. Despite high hopes, Al Wasl finished last season trophy-less. Maradona had recently been reassured that his job was safe, but Al Wasl's management in the end decided that a fresh start was needed, and promptly reversed their earlier decision.

Perhaps a fresh start will indeed be best for both parties. For Al Wasl, the search for a new coach begins now. As for Maradona, we await the next quest in his unforgettable football odyssey.

His time in the UAE certainly will live long in memory.