September 8, 2019 / 7:06 PM / 12 days ago

Argentines welcome Maradona as coach of local club Gimnasia y Esgrima

Soccer Football - Argentina - Juan Carmelo Zerillo Stadium, La Plata, Argentina - September 8, 2019 Diego Maradona during his presentation as the new coach of Gimnasia y Esgrima REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Some 25,000 Argentine soccer fans on Sunday cheered the country’s legendary World Cup winner Diego Maradona as he kicked off his new role as coach of the local club Gimnasia y Esgrima to revive the struggling team.

“We are going to get ahead together,” the 58-year-old former striker told fans at a stadium in the city of La Plata just outside Buenos Aires on his first day of training with the team known as “El Lobo,” or The Wolf.

Maradona, widely considered to be one of the greatest players of all time, was hired to turn around the fortunes of Gimnasia, which was formed in 1887 and has won just one professional title, the Copa Centenario, in 1993. It is now last in its division and is struggling not to slip into a lower category.

Some 500 limited-edition shirts with Maradona’s former number 10 sold out in a few hours, the club said.

Since talks between Gimnasia and Maradona began, thousands of fans have lined up in front of the club’s headquarters to register as members and to secure a spot in matches. [nL5N25W73K]

Maradona most recently coached in Mexico, where he led second division side Dorados of Sinaloa to two unsuccessful playoff appearances.

Reporting by Ramiro Scandolo; Editing by Richard Chang

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