PETER Leven is still pinching himself after finding out the identity of his new boss – Diego Maradona.

The Argentina legend’s decision to sign a three-year contract to become Dinamo Brest chairman adds another layer of interest to Leven’s coaching adventure in Belarus.

Having agreed to join in February, the former Oxford United midfielder has been settling in as manager of the top-flight club’s B team, plus overseeing their academy.

And Leven was as gobsmacked as anyone else when it was announced Maradona would be arriving after this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

Herald Series:

  • LEGEND: Diego Maradona has signed a contract to become chairman of Dinamo Brest Picture: PA/Martin Rickett

“It’s come out of the blue that he’s signed,” he told the Oxford Mail from the Belarusian city near the border with Poland.

“To listen to his stories and learn from him would be unbelievable.

“I know the club have asked for a Spanish-speaking driver and a translator, so he must be coming here and being hands-on.

“It will be great to have that on my CV, just to be around him and talk football.

“It would never have happened if I hadn’t taken the risk in the first place.”

Leven, who will forever be remembered by U’s fans for a long-range goal against Port Vale in 2011, had been looking for an opportunity to further his coaching career after leaving Kilmarnock last October.

Herald Series:

  • OPPORTUNITY: Former Oxford United midfielder Peter Leven, pictured celebrating his memorable goal in 2011, is working at Belarusian side Dinamo Brest, where Diego Maradona will become chairman Picture: David Fleming

Still only 34, there were plenty of easier options on the table, but an opportunity to get well out of his comfort zone appealed.

He said: “I just didn’t want to be that normal British coach who stayed at a level and jumped about between clubs.

“I wasn’t like that as a player. I wanted to try things and be on the edge, that’s me as a person. I just wanted something different.

“I can try things over here. I can experiment and nobody is going to say ‘what are you doing?’ “I have a blank canvas.”

While being apart from his family, whom he sees twice a month, is difficult, Leven is relishing everything else about the challenge.

He said: “It’s completely different. Wherever you go you expect people to speak English, but we’re so lazy as a country when it comes to languages.

“I have a full-time translator, but I tell him to leave me and put me in awkward situations.

“You don’t appreciate just how much you can say with your hands when you need to.”

“I’m really enjoying it. To anybody reading this in any walk of life I’d say go and take a gamble – take a risk abroad.”

OXFORD United made an excellent choice when appointing Karl Robinson as manager, says Peter Leven.

The pair worked together at Milton Keynes Dons, before the midfielder joined the U’s in 2011.

And Robinson made a lasting impression on Leven, which he believes will have a similar impact on the existing squad.

He said: “Karl was fantastic with me, I don’t have a bad word to say about him.

“The way he plays football and deals with players, I think it’s the best option for Oxford.

“He will get to know the players off the field, his phone is on 24/7 and you can rely on him.

“I have a lot of time for him.

“When I was playing at MK my wife was heavily pregnant and wasn’t too well.

“I played the game and went straight to the hospital to see her and two minutes later Karl was right behind me. I will never forget that.

“He will look after everybody. I hope the Oxford fans get behind him.”

OXFORD United will travel to Aldershot Town in pre-season.

The U’s have arranged a friendly against the Vanarama National League club for Tuesday, July 17 (7.45).