Saturday, December 13, 2008


I was stunned when a friend contacted me several weeks ago to let me know that Diego Maradona had been named the head coach of the Argentine national soccer team. (there is no team in the universe that elicits as much pride, emotion, and love for me as does the Argentine national team)

Alongside Pele, Maradona is considered the greatest soccer player of all time. From the slums of Argentina, his talents were noticed at a young age and this eventually catapulted him onto the world stage. Along with many soccer accolades accumulated over his soccer career there have also been off field incidents that have plagued his life-drug addiction being one of them. At 48 years old, Maradona has already suffered a heart attack.

Even though his personal life has been erratic, what most concerns me and the question I pose to you is this: can a great player-not just a "good" player-ever be a great coach? I don't think so.

Coaching seems to be a complicated endeavor that involves much more than just "playing" the game. At being a "good" player (not a great one) fundamental lessons are learned on how to be better. Your lack of abilities helps you to "see" the game differently. This paradigm assists the coach in being a better teacher. (Look at Phil Jackson, Johan Bruyneel) Could Michael Jordan ever be a great coach?

I still haven't worked out my issues about Argentina's loss against Germany in the last world cup (one thing is to get beaten by a team and another is to lose the game yourself, but that's another post) I'm sure there are many waiting for the "Albiceleste" to raise the trophy over their heads this next world cup. Will Maradona be able to work his magic as the new national team coach?-not sure

Please look at this great post:

1 comment:

Robert J. Hudson said...

All good questions. Greatness playing and greatness on the sidelines do not always equate. For example, your post was published a mere couple of hours before the 76ers fired Maurice Cheeks. "The Great One" Wayne Gretzky is constantly in hot water with the Phoenix Coyotes. Babe Ruth couldn't even get a minor league gig as a manager.

But, there are some exceptions to the rule and those are generally in baseball. Pete Rose, baseball's hit king, was a very good manager in his brief tenure with the Reds. Joe Torre put up HOF numbers as a player and his credentials as a coach are unquestionable. Frank Robinson had a good run of it in Baltimore in the early going. Still, these are merely exceptions that confirm the rule.

You're right, most great coaches were mediocre players or not players at all. Those who do succeed have this knowledge and sixth sense of the game that goes beyond athleticism. That said, I expect Maradona to fall flat on his face.