Posted: 6/22/2018


       Well, not many around the world so it seems. with a talented Lionel Messi stranded in midfield. So supported by talented team mated surrounding him at Camp Nou, but stranded with this inept national team in Nizhny Novgorod.

         A woeful performance and a much deserved 3-0 crushing by Croatia.  20 years ago I was in the old Stade Gerland in Lyon as they beat an ageing, out of breath Germany team 3-0 in the France 98 quarter final, before losing to France in the semi-final 2-1  but beatting Netherlands into 3rd place 2-1 in their first ever World Cup appearance.  A horrible mistake by goalie Willy Cabelero then a superb strike by the ever improving Luka Modric and finally the coupe de grace from Lionel Messi's Barca team mate Ivan Rakitic.  

        A year ago last May I was at the UEFA u17 championships in Croatia and was chauffeur driven to HNS headquarters in Zagreb to meet the hero of the '98 campaign Davor Suker,  no, the Federation president since 2012. A striker with such as NS Osijek  Dinamo Zagreb, Sevilla, Real Madrid, Arsenal, West Ham United and TSV 1860 Munich. 448 appearances and 203 goals plus another 45 for the national team.including the Golden Boot at FRANCE '98 with 6 goals. He presented me with a red & white checkered team jersey signed with my name on it. AWESOME !

     As for the Argie fans, Maradona has been outspoken and critical of his country and its manager Jorge Sampaali. Evidently he is not only a guest of FIFA with some of his cronies, but they are paying him $10,000 A DAY for appearances and goodness know what else, plus 5 star treatment and room and board and limousine. REALLY !!! He is also being paid as a daily pundit for Venezuelan and Spanish television. Thats a lot of money to sniff up your nose!!  He was also caught smoking a cigar at the opening match and putting his fat fingers to his eyes to show a slit eye expression to some admiring South Korean supporters. below him.

       I first met him prior to the opener Belgium v Argentina at the Nou Camp in Barcelona at SPAIN '82. I had been down on the pitch and prior to kick off couldn't find the elevator so started walking up the narrow metal staircase many flights to the press baox. I heard a clatter and the Belgian and then the Argentina squads squeezed past me with a hi five with many including Diego as we passed each other. His team beat Belgium 1-0 in a forgettable match,

     Their biggest group match defeat was at SWEDEN '58. losing 6-1 to Czechoslovklia in Helsingborg at the Olympia stadion. When Maradona coached his country at the South Africa 2010 tournament they were well beaten by Germany at Cape Town Stadium 4-0. His reign was short lived.