Fujairah is a wonderful place to live in. It is a gem of a destination that has a great deal to offer. Fujairah never ceases to amaze. The lads from GEMS Our Own, Fujairah invited me to accompany them to the Fujairah Sports Club where they practice. That was the evening that it dawned on me that the possibilities in Fujairah are endless. Anything can happen on a Thursday evening, even a meeting with the one and only Diego Armando Maradona!
Many experts, football critics, former players, current players and football fans regard Diego Armando Maradona Franco as the greatest football player of all time. He was joint FIFA Player of the 20th Century with Pelé.
A playmaker who operated in the classic number 10 position, Maradona is the only player in football history to set the world record transfer fee twice, first when he transferred to Barcelona for a then world record £5m, and second, when he transferred to Napoli for another record fee £6.9m.
In his international career with Argentina, he earned 91 caps and scored 34 goals. Maradona’s exceptional vision, passing, ball control, dribbling skills, speed, reflexes and thinking time was combined with his small size (he was 5’5″, or 1.65m) giving him a low center of gravity which allowed him to be more maneuverable than most other football players; he would often dribble past multiple opposing players on a run. His presence on the pitch would have a great effect on his team’s general performance, while he would often be singled out by the opposition. A precocious talent, Maradona was given the nickname “El Pibe de Oro” (“The Golden Boy”), a name that stuck with him throughout his career.
Maradona played in four FIFA World Cups, including the 1986 World Cup in Mexico where he captained Argentina and led them to victory over West Germany in the final, and won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player. In the 1986 World Cup quarter-final, he scored both goals in a 2–1 victory over England that entered football history for two different reasons. The first goal was an unpenalized handling foul, while the second goal followed a 60 m (66 yd) dribble past five England players, voted “The Goal of the Century” by FIFA.com voters in 2002.
Maradona coached UAE club Al Wasl. In 2008, he was appointed as the head coach of the Argentina National Team until 2010 World Cup.
It was a magical evening spent contemplating the green turf and watching the champs weave their magic with their skilled moves. An opportunity to take the lads out and show them what a true champion is like in the flesh. It was really wonderful to meet the legend! He was really most approachable, warm and down to earth! Serendipity seems to be a recurrent companion – this was most unexpected and something that one would never consider a possibility—the nearest one got to this Champ was his poster on my bunk wall when one was in school!
He is the coach of the Fujairah Sports Club and our team is on a winning spree with Maradona being the happiest as the lads continue their winning streak!