Maradona says he never considered quitting

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina coach Diego Maradona Thursday denied that he had considered quitting the job only a week after taking over because of a row over his choice of assistant.

Argentina's national soccer coach Diego Maradona talks to journalists after his meeting with Barcelona player Lionel Messi in a hotel in Barcelona in this file photo from November 6, 2008. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino (

“There’s never been a resignation, there’s never been anything,” Maradona told reporters during a visit to the resort of Mar del Plata.

“I’m with the Argentina team for the players and not for anything else,” added the 48-year-old, one of the greatest players the world has seen and also one of its most troubled.

Maradona, due to make his debut in next Wednesday’s friendly away to Scotland, has run into a deadlock with Argentina Football Association (AFA) president Julio Grondona because he wants former defender Oscar Ruggeri as his assistant.

Grondona has publicly voiced his opposition to Ruggeri, citing personal differences.

Wednesday, there was widespread speculation among local cable television networks and newspapers that Maradona could even quit over the row.

Critics see the disagreement as the worst possible start and a foretaste of what may be to come with the notoriously unpredictable and impulsive former World Cup captain at the helm.

The choice of Maradona’s assistant had already turned into a saga.

Before being officially confirmed, Maradona said that his former 1986 World Cup team mates Sergio Batista and Jose Luis Brown would share the job.

But he back-tracked and said that Ruggeri was top of his list.

Argentine media said Thursday that Miguel Angel Lemme and Alejandro Mancuso would take on the role on an interim basis for next Wednesday.

Earlier Thursday, Ruggeri tried to defuse the row, telling Maradona to travel to Scotland.

“I want him to travel, to coach the team and we’ll speak again,” the rugged former defender told the cable television channel TyC Sports.

“I would be delighted to help but, if not, I will support him from the sidelines as I have always done.”

“Once he (Grondona) has chosen the coach, he should give him the freedom to pick his own staff.”

Reporting Luis Ampuero, additional reporting by Jorge Otaola; Writing by Brian Homewood