Recorded
Diego Maradona: The Dubai Years Ep. 5

Diego Maradona: The Dubai Years Ep. 5

June 28, 2021

Ten years ago, Diego Maradona stunned the world as he arrived in the UAE to manage club team Al Wasl. In this series, Paul Radley, sportswriter for The National, and football correspondent John McAuley will be looking back at the time when Maradona mania arrived in the UAE.

Subscribe to this five-part special to hear the story in full.

Produced by Ayesha Khan and Arthur Eddyson.

Diego Maradona: The Dubai Years Ep. 4

Diego Maradona: The Dubai Years Ep. 4

June 21, 2021

In stark contrast to his gilded playing career, Diego Maradona never won a trophy as a manager. His spells in charge of teams were only ever brief, and often ended in turmoil.

And yet those who played for him during his time in the UAE remember him with deep affection. They describe a manager full of empathy, warmth, and charisma, who would back them - even when all was lost.

In Episode 4 of our podcast series, hosts John McAuley and Paul Radley hear from a number of players who were managed by Maradona at Al Wasl and Fujairah.

The question to each of them was a simple one: what was it like to be coached by one of the most effervescent characters in all of sport?

Subscribe to this five-part special to hear the story in full.

Produced by Ayesha Khan and Arthur Eddyson.

Diego Maradona: The Dubai Years Ep. 3

Diego Maradona: The Dubai Years Ep. 3

June 14, 2021

Diego Maradona is, for many, the greatest footballer to have ever played the game. So what made him so good?

In 1982, when aged 22, he moved from Boca Juniors to Barcelona for a world-record $7.6 million fee.

During his two years at Camp Nou, Maradona was a constant thorn in the side of arch-rivals Real Madrid, even helping Barcelona defeat the old enemy in the 1983 Copa del Rey final.

He would spend two spells at Boca, returning in 1995 following an ignominious exit from the World Cup the previous summer. Two years later, he brought down the curtain on his professional career with a 2-1 victory away to bitter rivals River Plate.

That wasn’t technically when Maradona hung up his boots, though. In 2011, he arrived in the UAE to manage Al Wasl, and was a regular on the 5-aside or 7-aside pitch. Apparently, he treated those games as anything but recreational.

In Episode 3 of our podcast series looking at the Maradona's time in the country, hosts Paul Radley and John McAuley speak to a former opponent at Real Madrid, an ex-teammate at Boca, and even a close friend who was tasked with organising the weekly “friendly” matches in Dubai.

True to form, they attest to the fact the World Cup winner could be a handful on and off the pitch.

Subscribe to this five-part special to hear the story in full.

Produced by Ayesha Khan and Arthur Eddyson.

Diego Maradona: The Dubai Years Ep. 2

Diego Maradona: The Dubai Years Ep. 2

June 8, 2021

Diego Maradona was a magnet for news throughout his career, and his relationship with the media rarely ran smooth.

When he came to Dubai a decade ago to manage Al Wasl, the glare of the limelight might have been less harsh than it had been for him in Buenos Aires, Barcelona or Naples. And yet he still managed to find his way into scrapes.

From kicking supporters of his own team, wading into the stands to remonstrate with opposition fans, and fostering fierce rivalries both near and far, Maradona frequently vented his fury.

In Episode 2 of our podcast series looking at his time in the country, hosts Paul Radley and John McAuley speak to those tasked with trying to keep track of El Diego’s escapades in Emirates.

Subscribe to this five-part special to hear the story in full.

Produced by Ayesha Khan and Arthur Eddyson.

Diego Maradona: The Dubai Years Ep. 1

Diego Maradona: The Dubai Years Ep. 1

June 7, 2021

It marks one of the most extraordinary developments in UAE sport, a moment that carried Emirati football beyond its borders and to the world. Ten years ago, in May 2011, Diego Maradona was announced as the new manager of Al Wasl, a Dubai-based club fourth in the nascent UAE Pro League.

The previous summer, Maradona had coached Argentina at the World Cup in South Africa, aiming to lead his country to football’s greatest prize, just as he did most famously as a player in 1986. Now he was appointed head coach at Wasl, a decorated club in the UAE top flight but without a trophy in four seasons.

Maradona signed a two-year contract, promising to restore his new employers to former glory. It did not quite work out that way, but Fifa’s joint player of the century would go on to make Dubai his home for the best part of the next decade.

To commemorate that remarkable period, The National has created a podcast series entitled “Diego Maradona: The Dubai Years”, with insight from some of the people who knew best the colourful Argentine during his time here.

In Episode 1, hosts Paul Radley and John McAuley detail the whirlwind moment Maradona was considered as Wasl manager, what it meant for UAE football, his arrival in the Emirates, and that first press conference in which the World Cup winner set the stage for what became a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

Subscribe to this five-part special to hear the story in full.

Produced by Ayesha Khan and Arthur Eddyson.