Diego Maradona would return to coach Argentina for free after being left hurt by their World Cup elimination.
The 57-year-old great was in the stands as Jorge Sampaoli’s side slipped to a 4-3 defeat against France in the round of 16 and said his energetic demeanour at the game did not reflect his feelings about the outcome of the match.
Argentina reached the World Cup quarter-finals in 2010 with Maradona at the helm and he expressed his desire to take the job again in an appearance on Venezuelan TV network Telesur.
“Yes and I would do it for free, I would not ask for anything in return,” said Maradona.
When asked about his depiction in the media, he added: “They think I’m happy but my heart hurts.
“I wish God gave me the strength to return to the field. The years and life go on for everyone and I get to 57 years of age watching my team beaten by a team that I do not think is one of the best at the World Cup.
“It makes me feel bad – everything we built with much effort was destroyed very easily.”
Having watched Brazil qualify for the last eight with a 2-0 victory over Mexico on Monday, Maradona backed Selecao head coach Tite to take his side all the way in Russia.
“I saw a very strong team from Brazil that is on its way to the title,” said the 1986 World Cup winner. “I like Tite a lot because he stops teams.
“Mexico wanted to play as they did against Germany [a 1-0 Group F victory] and they gave everything. Mexico cannot be asked for more.”
Maradona also passed comment on the on-field antics of Brazil striker Neymar, who scored Brazil’s first goal but was also seen reacting theatrically when a Mexico player allegedly stepped on his foot.
“Neymar must be told: ‘Either you make us cry or you make us laugh’,” said Maradona. “When the Mexican stepped on him it was pitiful, but seeing him running joyous.”