x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Animated touchline

Diego Maradona's new role as coach of Al Wasl Football Club of Dubai is set to capture the imagination of football fans across the UAE.

Only Maradona. Who else could have produced the most controversial goal in football history, along with it's most sublime, in the same match?

The 1986 World Cup quarter-final against England has come to define the extraordinary career of Diego Maradona. His controversial goal and his slalom through England's hapless defenders perfectly encapsulate the scandal - and the genius - that has defined him ever since.

For football fans, Maradona is far more than just a player. And for football fans in the UAE, he will certainly be more than a coach. From September this unmistakable figure will be seen trawling the touchlines of football stadiums across the Emirates as coach of Al Wasl of Dubai.

In managerial terms, Maradona remains somewhat unproven. After barely qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Argentina performed well in the early stages but a devastating 4-0 defeat to Germany meant the end of the road for Argentina, and for Maradona's job.

Regardless, he remains by some distance the most famous personality ever to be involved in Emirati football. The presence of a legend on the pitch may help attract top talent to the Pro League, and put fans in the seats of teams Al Wasl plays.

Maradona reportedly called Dubai "paradise" when he paid a recent visit. But it is football fans who will be ecstatic next season.