Buenos Aires, Jan 25 (GCSports) Diego Maradona has said that he declined an offer from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to coach the country’s national men’s football team.
Maradona, currently the manager of Argentinian Superliga side Gimnasia, met with Maduro in Caracas on Tuesday, less than a month after Rafael Dudamel quit as Venezuela’s head coach.
“Maduro offered me the national team [job] but I told him that I have a commitment with Gimnasia,” Maradona told journalists before his team’s home Superliga clash with Velez Sarsfield on Friday.
“I couldn’t let the lads and the people down. There was no possibility that I would leave here,” he added.
The Vinotinto have been without a head coach since January 3, when Dudamel resigned to take charge of Brazilian Serie A club Atletico Mineiro.
Maradona, who almost single-handedly guided Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title, has a contract with Gimnasia until May. The 59-year-old has said that his main priority is to help the club avoid relegation to Argentinian football’s second tier.
The former Barcelona, Napoli and Boca Juniors forward has a close friendship with Maduro, who made clear his admiration for the Argentinian after this week’s meeting.
“I received a pleasant visit from our friend and brother Diego Armando Maradona,” Maduro wrote on Twitter. “A meeting in which we shared reflections on the different themes of sport and global affairs. Thanks Diego! Venezuela thanks you for your unconditional support for our country.”
Multiple news reports in Argentina cited Maradona’s absence from Gimnasia’s first training sessions of the year as evidence that he might be appointed Venezuela’s head coach.
The Venezuelan Football Federation is hoping to name a new manager before South America’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers begin in March.