maradona joins legend coaches

PARIS - When Diego Maradona was named Argentina coach last week he joined an exclusive club of legendary stars who have moved from playing for to managing their national teams.

PARIS - When Diego Maradona was named Argentina coach last week he joined an exclusive club of legendary stars who have moved from playing for to managing their national teams.

Michel Platini, Franz "der Kaiser" Beckenbauer, Marco van Basten, Mario Zagallo and Kevin Keegan are some of the big names to have swapped the field for the dugout.

And while some have made the switch effortlessly, others have found out the hard way that success on the pitch doesn't necessarily assure success at the side of it.

Platini once said of Maradona that, "The things I could do with a ball, he could do with an orange". But the similarities between the two are greater than the Uefa president's self-deprecation would imply.

The midfield maestro engineered France's 1984 European championship triumph and went on to be voted player of the tournament, much like Maradona two years later at the World Cup finals in Mexico.

A triple Ballon d'Or winner (1983-85), Platini played in three World Cups, helping France reach the semifinals in 1982 and 1986, picking up 72 caps (49 on them as captain) and scoring 41 goals.

He took over from Henri Michel as national coach in 1988 at the age of 33, but could not steer the stuttering team he inherited to the 1990 World Cup finals in Italy.

In the qualifying stages for the European championships two years later, it seemed as if the Platini potion had finally cast its spell, with France undefeated going into the Sweden finals.

However, elimination in the group stages after poor perfomances against the likes of Denmark cost Platini dearly and he stepped down the following day.

Beckenbauer, like his French counterpart, disputed three World Cups with a hugely successful West Germany side in 1966, 1970 and 1974, the year they won the new replacement for the Jules Rimet Trophy, which had been retained four years earlier by Brazil.

The "Kaiser" became captain in 1971 and brought home a European championship title a year later after defeating the Soviet Union 3-0.

At the 1976 Euro finals in Yugoslavia, they narrowly lost in the final to Czechoslovakia.

But unlike Platini, Beckenbauer was able to translate his playing success into managerial glory.

He guided West Germany to the final of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, when the team came up against the one-man showstopper Maradona, touched if not by the "Hand of God" then certainly by the "Foot of the Almighty".

Beckenbauer exacted his revenge four years later in Italy when Germany beat the South Americans 1-0 in an ill-tempered match.

The Kaiser became one of only two men, along with Brazilian Zagallo, to have won the biggest trophy in world football as both player and coach.

While having impeccable crudentials as players, Van Basten and Keegan cut controversial figures as national coaches.

Van Basten spent four years at the helm taking the Dutch side to last 16 of the 2006 World Cup finals. But he courted criticism for dropping Ruud van Nistelrooy ahead of their loss to Portugal.

After this summer's European Championships, where the Dutch performed well to reach the quarter-finals, he resigned to take over Ajax.

Keegan was appointed national coach in 1999 and began his reign with a 3-1 win over Poland in a Euro 2000 qualifier. But after a poor start to their World Cup qualifying campaign in 2002, he resigned after talks with the English FA.

No analysis of success on and off the pitch is complete without mention of Zagallo, nicknamed "The Professor", whose fingerprints are on four of Brazil's five World Cup triumphs.

Emerging from the amateur ranks during the 1950s, the pint-sized Zagallo rose to World Cup glory in Sweden in 1958 and Chile four years later.

But it wasn't enough. He managed a star-studied Brazilian squad - including Pele, Carlos Alberto, Jairzinho and Rivelino - in Mexico in 1970, when they earned the right to keep the trophy.

After taking United Arab Emirates to Italy in 1990, Zagallo was called on by Brazil for the final time, as technical director for the 1994 finals in America.

Together with his protégé, Carlos Alberto Perreira, he guided the side to another world title after a dull final against Italy led to a penalty shootout. Sapa-AFP