Romano Prodi, the former Italian Prime Minister and former President of the European Union has just published a book of memoirs and recollections. I have not read it yet but I have seen some passages in a article published on Italy’s Corriere della Sera.
I am sure that this book will be a great read because Prodi has many interesting stories to tell, he even told me a very good one while on a visiting Hong Kong in 2012. It was about former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew (1923-2015).
I was sitting at a dinner table facing Mr. Prodi in the house of former Italian Consul of Hong Kong, Alessandra Schiavo. The discussing was about his last visit to Singapore, and he told me that, as European President, he was welcomed there by the former Prime Minister, Lee Kwan Yew, who escorted him to the city centre. Mr. Prodi praised all the flowers in full bloom that were lining the highway leading to the hotel. Mr. Lee grunted and said: ‘Yes, but we politicians should be more careful!’
Slightly taken aback, Prodi enquired what was all about. Lee explained: ‘When we decided for such variety of flowers we forgot the bees…since flowers are in bloom all year long the bees have since ceased honey’s production!’.
Well, getting to Chairman Deng Xiaping (1904-1997), Mr. Prodi writes that before entering politic he was in China as general manager of IRI, a large industrial conglomerate. When they were about to sign a contract for a power station someone told him that there was a message for him coming from Deng. A bit worried, Prodi waited for the message to arrive. What Deng wanted to know was if it was possible to have Maradona play in China!
Deng was proposing a match in Shanghai and one in Bejing. Some people there told him that he was a great fan of the Argentinian star – in fact he was mad of him…
Back in Italy, Prodi phoned Naples’s coach Ottavio Bianchi to ask if it was possible to have the team, with Maradona, play in China. But then he heard that Maradona was asking half milion USD for himself plus the team, total 1 million for two games.
Romano Prodi had to answer that IRI could not pay that much for two matches and since then he is still upset with Maradona. Unfortunately we don’t know the reaction of Deng Xiaoping on receiving the sad news.
Romano Prodi ‘Missione Incompiuta‘ Laterza, 2015.