Argentine football icon Diego Maradona landed in Belarus where he will take a new job as president of first division club Dinamo Brest.
The 1986 World Cup winner, who arrived in Belarus on Monday said his latest job was “very serious” and hoped his presence would help the country’s sport “get better every day”.
The 57-year-old also expressed a wish to meet authoritarian Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. “I have very good memories of Fidel Castro, (Hugo) Chavez and (Moamer) Kadhafi and I also know Putin,” the former Argentinian number 10 said at a
news conference, listing late leaders of Cuba, Venezuela and Libya and the current Russian president.
“Now I want to do a photograph with
Lukashenko,” he said of the former
collective farm boss who has ruled the ex-Soviet state with an iron grip since 1994.
“I hope after that he will become our fan,” he added, speaking Spanish in translated comments.
Lukashenko is better known as an avid ice hockey player.
The Argentinian spoke of his desire to settle in Belarus, which is sandwiched between Russia and Ukraine and EU members Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, saying he did not fear the cold.
“When I was small, I had no shoes and I walked barefoot. So I’m not afraid of snow. I can live in Belarus without any problems,” said the Argentinian, who grew up in a shantytown. He also said he was planning to learn Russian.
Maradona signed a three-year contract in May and was set to watch his first match as the team’s president on Monday evening, at home against fourth-placed Shakhtyor.
Dinamo Brest are sixth in the table just before the halfway point in the Belarusian league season.
“We’ll try to create a team that will battle for the best places,” said the former Ballon d’or winner whose infamous “Hand of God” goal against England helped Argentina win the 1986 World Cup.