Maradona nearly joined Uralan

It happened in the end of the 90s. 1997. Elista’s Uralan FC has just advanced to the top division. The average club became to be the main candidate for downgrading after a season. However, Uralan surprised everyone. In 1998, it took seventh place and it climbed into the semi-finals of the Russian Cup the next season.

Uralan was also remembered for its attempt to invite Diego Maradona. The goal was simply to bring a football star to the team and thus attract the attention of football fans and people of Kalmykia. Uralan almost succeeded in this, but Maradona's health problems intervened.

First President of Kalmykia Kirsan Ilyumzhinov commented: “We negotiated with him; we have even discussed the price. We agreed that he would be a coach. Let him just come out, play football for a couple of minutes, and that would be enough. For us, residents of Kalmykia, Maradona was needed as a symbol, as a football landmark. He had a health problem, so we didn't sign a contract. Although, everything was ready on our side."