Q: You are such a huge canvas that the poor interviewer struggles to find the first appropriate question. Where to begin? Diego can you please help me in finding the first appropriate question for someone as big as Maradona?
A: When you start with him be simple. The simpler the better.For Diego is a simple man. If you start like that you can go anywhere you can ask him just about anything.
A: Argentina plays from the heart. Argentina plays for the love of its flag .Argentina can win, lose or tie but Argentina will display passion, they will first leave their hearts on the field and only then will mix football with it, not the other way around.
Q: What would be your elementary advice to the Indian team? Play with the heart?
A: I don’t consider a football team without a heart.
Q: You are a VVIP and for obvious reasons require foolproof security here, but do you know the referee who had officiated in the 90 world cup final would still require security here for different reasons though some militant argentine supporters of the city are still gunning for him for the penalty he gave against your team?
A: Ha ha ha. I think he should be requiring security wherever he goes in this world.
Q: What did you think of the decision then?
A: It was an atrocious decision as it was we had a few injured players in our ranks even with that we fought very hard to make it to the finals. But everything went down the drain because of that decision.
Q: Eighteen years is a pretty long time. Have you forgiven him now?
A: My dear friend you can’t change history. Can you? The scoreboard still shows 0-1 against us. So I can only sit back and pray that wherever the Mexican referee is he shouldn’t be in a peaceful frame of mind.
Q: There is another legend who has marginally lost out on popularity by spreading venom against you. The great Pele. Diego, what do you think of Pele?
A: Ahhh Diego won’t say bad things about Pele. He was a great footballer, a fantastic player. But the only problem is that Pele is not loved and respected by the football players. That is the main difference with Diego. To be honest with you I can walk into the Brazilian locker room five minutes before the start of an international match, Pele can’t. And he can’t think of going anywhere near the argentine locker room either.
Q: Is Pele an opportunist?
A: Pele wants the limelight shining upon him all the time. He wants to do everything on his own. He is far away from the footballer and seems to think you can remain close to football if you remain close to the high officials of the FIFA.
Q: Why is it that the British media can’t seem to forget the hand of the god goal? They rarely talk about your second goal in the same match which according to many is one of the finest in world cup history.
A: The British people have a problem with history. They have this ability to forget things that they want to forget very conveniently. If you ask them what had happened in the sixty six world cup final /didn’t you beat Germany aided by a disputed goal? They won’t be able to remember. In their history hand of god exists not the sixty six final (laughs loudly, echoed by his manager cum interpreter).
Q: On a scale of ten how much would you give the British media?
Q: Please also rank the Italian and the Brazilian media.
A: Italy ahhh. Seven. And Brazil eight.
Q: Have the Brazilian media been fair to you?
A: Very fair. In fact I have won opinion polls in Brazil where Pele finished second. There was another opinion poll in which ayarton senna came first. Pele couldn’t win. As a matter of fact Pele’s jealousy and hatred towards me perhaps began from losing out to me in his own country.
Q: What do you talk when you bump into Pele?
A: We don’t talk.
A: Because our philosophies are different. Our thoughts regarding football are so different that there is no meeting point as such. Then why talk?
Q: There is constant speculation in the media, after Maradona who? What does Maradona himself think?
A: I can talk about Ronaldinho, Van Basten, Messi. They are all brilliant players and given tremendous entertainment to the paying public. Yet none of them are unquestionable number one to use a metaphor myself and Pele we are like two distant stars in a different planet feeling lonely as we wait for the next star to arrive. And may I say the wait has been very long.
Q: What do you think of Beckham?
A: He is very pretty (now he brings down the entire room and almost a laugh riot follows.) I always knew and had speculated that Beckham would never be number one. The fault is not just his. He was hyped up to such an extent that there was always on additional pressure on him.
Q: So how should the final rating read? Maradona one, Pele two?
A: In Rio they say, Pele is three.
A: Yes according to them Maradona one, Pele three and the great Garincha two.
Q: You always you get to see two different Maradonas who are in sharp contrast to each other. One Maradona takes drugs, gets involved with the darker parts of the society, and misbehaves with the media. The other Maradona loves children, helps out strangers, and is adored by the players for his generosity. Which one is the real Maradona?
A: Diego is one. He is someone who is very fair if have respect he is all yours. Diego thinks you can be a footballer, you can be a journalist but much before that you must be a good man. A man, who knows how to give respect to others, if you don’t have respect for others, what is the point in talking.
Q: Is that something you were denied by the British press?
A: They have not forgotten my hand of the god goal. And since then have not come to me for an interview. That hardly bothers me .if the British press can live life peacefully minus Diego Maradona, I can also spend the rest of my life in this beautiful world minus them.
Q: It is very rare amongst international sportsmen not to understand even Basic English. Is it because of your hatred for them you never made an attempt to learn the queen’s language?
A: Ha ha ha. Actually I tried ten times and failed. Then I told myself Ii love the Italian language so much. Let me stick to that. And to be frank I never really liked the English language.
Q: Do you know in India there is something called bollywood? That there is a sport called cricket?
A: Yes I know cricket. I watched it once on TV. I do know that you have a very strong team in cricket and that recently you have beaten England comprehensibly (grins)
Q: You have always been an anti establishment man who ironically now finds himself as a part of the establishment. There will be moments when you have to take a call whether you will compromise or not.
A: The moment, I will see I am being treated as a part of the establishment and they are trying to use me the next minute I will quit. I have only become coach as the footballers wanted me. I only have their interests in mind. The moment I see their priorities are being sacrificed and I am being used in the process, I shall head for home.