JOHANNESBURG - Diego Maradona was forced
to stub out his fat cigar but no one could take the smile off
his face - or stop him talking - after Argentina's 3-1 last 16
World Cup defeat of Mexico on Sunday.
The 49-year-old Argentina coach kept a packed media room
waiting about 20 minutes before arriving in triumph, literally
in a puff of smoke, to josh with reporters and even dedicate the
win to the MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi.
The former football great had ambled into the room sucking on
a newly lit, enormous cigar but was swiftly told to put it out.
From then on, though, Maradona held court.
"It's great to be part and parcel of these players and the
team. I feel proud I am sharing this moment," he said before
questions turned to their quarter-final clash with Germany on
Saturday in Cape Town.
"Let me just enjoy the match against Mexico. You can think
whatever you want and you can say whatever you want about what I
may think about Germany. You have carte blanche," he joked.
Under strict guidance from a watching media officer the time
swiftly arrived for Maradona to leave the room but he was having
none of it.
"I want to answer more questions and they are trying to send
me out," he said to laughter before signing off with a message
"I would like to dedicate this match to my friend Valentino
Rossi who got himself injured," the 1986 World Cup winning
The 31-year-old Italian Rossi broke his leg at his home
Grand Prix three weeks ago. He plans to return to the track in
August, he said on Sunday in a statement.
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