Diego Maradona faces one of the toughest tests of his young managerial career. Majed Naser, his starting goalkeeper at U.A.E. club Al Wasl, has decided to retire, rather than face a 17-game ban for slapping an opposing coach.
The club hopes Maradona can help Naser reconsider his decision, according to the National.
"I accept the disciplinary committee's decision but at the same time I personally think that the decision exceeded expectations," Naser said. It is exaggerated and harsh and is enough to end my football career."
"This decision made me think about my career and to weigh my options and therefore I have taken the decision to retire from football completely.
The U.A.E. FA handed Naser the stiffest of punishments last week. He slapped Al Ahli head coach Quique Sanchez-Flores in the back of the head after Al Wasl lost a heated Etisalat Cup semifinal game. Naser apologized after the incident, and Sanchez-Flores accepted his apology. But the damage was already done. He was hit with the lengthy ban and a fine of $8,167.
Rather than accept the sanctions, Naser went on television and announced that he was quitting the game. It caught both Al Wasl and the U.A.E. national team (Naser starts for its national team) by surprise, and the club said it would try to change the player's mind.
"The Wasl Football Club's management understand his frustration and the feelings he is going through following the 17-match ban," the club said in a written statement. "The disciplinary committee's decision is indeed harsh and could potentially hinder or even end any football player's career and more so a goalkeeper's.
"The Al Wasl Football Club's management confirm that they will do all that is possible to convince Nasser to retract his retirement decision. He is a valuable national asset not just to Al Wasl but also to UAE football as a whole."
Maradona, 51, is one of the game's all-time greats and a global icon. If he cannot convince Naser to return to the field, then who can?