Diego Maradona just might have another coaching job.
The former football great, who coached Argentina at this year’s
World Cup, sat in the crowd at the ATP World Tour Finals for the
second straight day Monday and took time to meet with the players,
including Novak Djokovic.
”He’s actually doing coaching. You didn’t know that?” the Serb
joked after winning his opening match at the season-ending event
for the top eight players in the world. ”We’re working on some
specifics, like how to play with hands. High balls.”
Maradona was the captain of Argentina when the team won the 1986
World Cup. His infamous ”Hand of God” goal, when he punched the
ball past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton in the quarterfinals, is
one of the most controversial in football history.
”I wouldn’t go there. It was many years ago,” said Djokovic,
who was born nearly a year after that match. ”We all remember the
‘Hand of God.”’
Djokovic, a jokester who draws belly laughs with his imitations
of other players, was only kidding about Maradona being his coach,
of course. But he still said it was an ”incredible honor and
pleasure” to have the Argentine’s support while on the court at
the O2 Arena.
”He’s an image that is recognized all over the world,” said
Djokovic, who beat Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-3. ”We don’t need to spend
words about him. He’s a big legend.”
Although the pair only met face-to-face on Monday, they have
been in contact before. Djokovic said he found out that Maradona
was a fan of his, so he sent the former Boca Juniors and Napoli
star a shirt and a racket. Maradona replied with an autographed
Maradona went to watch Manchester City play at Fulham in the
Premier League on Sunday before heading to the O2 to see Roger
Federer beat David Ferrer at the ATP finals. His appearance on
Monday caused a few butterflies in Djokovic’s stomach.
”He’s maybe the best player that ever played football. He’s one
of the biggest icons of the sport ever,” said Djokovic, who spoke
to Maradona in Italian. ”It’s normal that we’re all excited and
kind of nervous in front of him when we speak to him.”
Nerves aside, Djokovic is looking forward to his support
throughout the round-robin tournament.
”Hopefully,” Djokovic said, ”he can be my lucky charm.”