Ramon was most recently manager of Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia.
When Ramon Diaz was announced fans across the country went ‘Who?' – When it was explained who he was, their second comment was often ‘Are you sure?' – well it is all true and it did happen, Oxford United did appoint a 46 year old coach as manager of their club – a man who has made 24 appearances for Argentina, a man played alongside Maradona in the 1982 World Cup (and even outshone him in the FIFA World Youth Championship in Japan 1979 - ending the tournament as the top scorer with 8 goals, compared to Maradona's 6.). He is a man, who as a player is described by the FIFA website as having ‘…deadly acumen in front of goal, invariably popping up in the right place at the right time…'
During his playing career, Diaz has played for the likes of River Plate, Napoli, Fiorentina, Inter Milan, and Monaco, though his major success has come as a manager. He has managed Argentinean giants River Plate, to five Argentinean titles. He has also managed Independiente and Monaco, but his amazing successes at River Plate, where he is a legend, made him ranked 3rd in the world in terms of percentage of wins when he joined Oxford in November 2003.
So what made him come to Oxford, well firstly his relationship with Chairman Firoz Kassam had a lot to do with it. Kassam when explaining Diaz's arrival to the press said he was “…a friend of a friend and has come in for six months to get me out of a hole…". Secondly it is alleged that, although he remains many Argentinean fan's favourite to take over as their national team's coach, he escaped to Europe following a kidnapping attempt on one of his children. Add to that he had been out of work for nearly two years, and you can begin to see why he is here. It is not the first time he has been linked to English football - he was strongly linked to QPR back in September 2003 when Ian Holloway's position was thought to be insecure.
He is a very highly rated as a coach in South America, but does look out of place at an English lower league club (with his two translators, two coaches, a doctor and a physio – quite a large backroom team for a club languishing towards the foot of Coca-Cola League Two.) – still it could be a revolution in the making, and though here on an initial six month contract, his impact is being felt, as he claimed his first ever Manager of the Month award in January 2005.
Who knows where this story will end, but one thing is for sure, the Coca-Cola League Two is all the richer for having men of his footballing calibre involved – let's hope he enjoys it so much he wants to stay.