Second Maradona Nurse To Be Questioned Over Star’s Death

File photo of Argentine legend, Maradona. Credit: AFP

 

A second nurse accused of neglecting football icon Diego Maradona during the last days of his life was due to be questioned by Argentine prosecutors on Wednesday.

Dahiana Gisela Madrid, 36, is one of seven people under investigation for manslaughter after a board of experts looking into Maradona’s death found he had received inadequate care and was abandoned to his fate for a “prolonged, agonizing period”.

The football legend died of a heart attack last November at the age of 60, just weeks after undergoing brain surgery for a blood clot.

An investigation was opened following a complaint filed by two of Maradona’s five children against neurosurgeon Leopoldo Luque, whom they blame for their father’s deteriorating condition after the operation.

A panel of 20 medical experts convened by Argentina’s public prosecutor said last month that Maradona’s treatment was rife with “deficiencies and irregularities” and the medical team had left his survival “to fate.”

If found guilty, the seven, who are barred from leaving the country, could face between eight and 25 years in prison.

Madrid was Maradona’s daytime nurse.

On Monday, his nighttime nurse Ricardo Almiron, 37, was the first of the seven to be questioned by prosecutors in San Isidro, on the outskirts of the capital Buenos Aires.

He claimed to have been “told by his superiors not to disturb the patient,” Almiron’s lawyer, Franco Chiarelli told reporters on Monday.

Chiarelli said Almiron “always treated Maradona as a patient with a complex psychiatric” condition but was never told about “an issue related to heart disease.”

– Fabricated report –
Madrid was one of the people to have found Maradona showing no signs of life and had tried to revive him, she said in a previous witness statement.

She also said that when arriving for her shift, she had not performed a routine check on Maradona as she wanted to leave him to rest.

A written report then emerged in which Madrid claimed to have tried to check on Maradona but the World Cup winning captain had turned her away.

The nurse later admitted that was a lie and said her boss, Mariano Perroni, who is also under investigation, had asked her to fabricate the report.

Nursing coordinator Perroni, 40, psychiatrist Agustina Cosachov, 35, psychologist Carlos Diaz, 29, medical coordinator Nancy Forlini, 52, and Luque are all due to be questioned by prosecutors over the next two weeks.

A judge will then decide whether the matter should go to trial in a process expected to last months, or even years.

Maradona had battled cocaine and alcohol addictions during his life.

The former Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli star was suffering from liver, kidney and cardiovascular disorders when he died.

Maradona is an idol to millions of Argentines after he inspired the South American country to only their second World Cup triumph in 1986.

His death shocked fans around the world, and tens of thousands queued to file past his coffin, draped in the Argentine flag, at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires amid three days of national mourning.

Maradona’s Doctor Investigated For Involuntary Manslaughter

In this file photo taken on November 02, 2019, Gimnasia y Esgrima team coach Diego Armando Maradona gestures to supporters as he leaves the field after an Argentina First Division Superliga football match against Estudiantes, at El Bosque stadium, in La Plata, Buenos Aires province, Argentina. ALEJANDRO PAGNI / AFP

 

Diego Maradona’s personal doctor was on Sunday being investigated for involuntary manslaughter four days after the Argentina legend suffered a fatal heart attack, prosecutors in San Isidro near Buenos Aires reported.

Police raided Leopoldo Luque’s surgery and home in search of possible evidence pointing to negligence, according to television images.

The probe was triggered by concerns raised by three of Maradona’s daughters Dalma, Gianinna and Jana over the treatment he received for his heart condition at his home in Tigre, north of Buenos Aires, judicial sources said.

“Our investigations are ongoing, we are talking to witnesses including members of the family” of Maradona, a source close to the San Isidro inquiry said.

READ ALSO: Maradona’s Burial, FIFA Awards Nominees + Other Top Sports Stories Last Week 

Luque, who declined to comment when contacted by AFP, had posted a photograph of himself with Maradona on the day the 60-year-old left hospital on November 12, eight days after surgery to remove a blood clot on his brain.

Maradona returned home to Tigre where he received round-the-clock medical care and could remain close to his daughters.

He died of a heart attack on Wednesday and was buried on Thursday at the Jardin de Paz cemetery on the outskirts of the Argentine capital.

“The clinic had recommended that he go elsewhere to be hospitalised, but the family decided otherwise. His daughters signed for him to be discharged from the hospital,” said a family member, on the condition of anonymity.

Maradona’s lawyer, Matias Morla, had called for an investigation into claims that ambulances took more than half an hour to reach the football star’s house in response to an emergency call on the day of his death.

 

File photo of Argentine legend, Maradona. Credit: AFP

 

No complaint has yet been filed. “The case was initiated because he is a person who died at home and no one signed his death certificate. It does not mean there are suspicions or irregularities,” a judicial source said, requesting to remain anonymous.

A preliminary autopsy report established that Maradona died in his sleep at noon on Wednesday of “acute lung edema and chronic heart failure.”

The prosecutor’s office is awaiting the results of toxicological tests on Maradona’s body. The three prosecutors working on the case have requested his medical records, as well as recordings from neighborhood security cameras.

Three funeral home workers provoked outrage for posing for photos next to Maradona’s open coffin, smiling with their thumbs up, as it lay at the presidential palace ahead of his burial. One of the men has since apologised.

Maradona’s last public appearance came four weeks ago for his 60th birthday celebration at the stadium of Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata, the club he was coaching before his death.

AFP

Maradona’s Burial, FIFA Awards Nominees + Other Top Sports Stories Last Week 

Fans hold photos of Argentinian late football legend Diego Armando Maradona outside the Casa Rosada government house as they wait to pay their tribute to his coffin in Buenos Aires, on November 26, 2020. AFP

 

On Wednesday, legendary Argentine footballer, Diego Armando Maradona died from a cardiac arrest, aged 60, throwing the sporting world into one of its saddest moments in recent times. 

The 1986 World Cup winner’s death saw the outpouring of condolences from across the globe, adding further buzz to a week which started with FIFA’s suspension of CAF President, Ahmad Ahmad.

This edition of First Eleven, a recap of the top 11 sports stories from the world, also features action from the UEFA Champions League, the Europa League and stories from the domestic front.

1. Maradona: Football World Grieves, Bids Farewell To Argentine Legend

 

Aerial view of the burial of late Argentine football legend Diego Armando Maradona at the Jardin Bella Vista cemetery, in Buenos Aires province, on November 26, 2020. (Photo by Emiliano LASALVIA / AFP)

 

Millions of fans in Argentina and around the world on Thursday bided farewell to football great, Diego Maradona, the player who helped his country to a triumph in the 1986 FIFA World Cup.

 

In this file photo taken on June 29, 1986, Argentina’s football star team captain Diego Maradona kisses the World Cup won by his team after a 3-2 victory over West Germany on at the Azteca stadium in Mexico City. AFP

 

The former Napoli star who died on Wednesday was buried on the outskirts of Argentine capital, Buenos Aires after a farewell that was chaotic at times. In the ceremony attended by family and close friends in the leafy surrounds of the Bella Vista cemetery, the peaceful event contrasted sharply with the sometimes raucous scenes of the World Cup winner’s send-off in Buenos Aires.

 

The coffin carrying the remains of the late Argentinian football legend Diego Armando Maradona is carried out from the Casa Rosada government house, in Buenos Aires, on November 26, 2020.(Photo by JUAN MABROMATA / AFP)

 

Thousands of people had lined up from early Thursday morning to file past the star’s coffin, draped in the Argentine flag and his iconic No.10 jersey, at the presidential palace to pay their last respect to the player who commanded a cult following in the South American nation. Tributes are still pouring in from footballers, clubs, associations and coaches, a development that could continue for weeks.

2. FIFA Hammer Lands On CAF President Ahmad Ahmad

 

) In this file photo taken on January 21, 2020 Ahmad Ahmad, President of the Confederation of African Football, speaks during the CAF draw, for the second round of Confederation of African Football (CAF) matches for 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification, in the Egyptian capital Cairo. Mohamed el-Shahed / AFP
In this file photo taken on January 21, 2020 Ahmad Ahmad, President of the Confederation of African Football, speaks during the CAF draw, for the second round of Confederation of African Football (CAF) matches for 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification, in the Egyptian capital Cairo. Mohamed el-Shahed / AFP

 

The week had begun on a rather surprising note as FIFA’s hammer landed on Ahmad Ahmad, the President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). Football governing body, FIFA had on Monday suspended Ahmad, from Madagascar, for five years having “breached his duty of loyalty, offered gifts and other benefits, mismanaged funds and abused his position as the CAF President.”

File photo: FIFA President Gianni Infantino attends the 12th CAF Extraordinary General Assembly meeting in the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh on September 30, 2018. MOHAMED EL-SHAHED / AFP

 

Ahmad who has been the president of the football body since March 2017 was equally fined 200,000 Swiss francs ($220,000) by FIFA for the misdeeds, which related to “the organisation and financing of an Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca” and his involvement in CAF’s dealings with a sports equipment company.

The 60-year-old, has, however, launched an appeal against his suspension, citing unfairness in FIFA’s decision.

3. FIFA Awards 2020: Lewandowski, Messi, Ronaldo Lead Shortlist

 

A photo combination of Lewandowski, Messi and Ronaldo.

 

Polish striker, Roberto Lewandowski was shortlisted alongside Argentine star, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo for the 2020 FIFA Awards, to cap off an interesting year in which he won the quadruple with  Bayern Munich.

The European Player of the Year is also joined on the list that includes Senegal’s Sadio Mane, Egyptian Mohamed Salah and Dutchman Virgil van Dijk  by former teammate and Spanish international, Thiago Alacantra.

File photo: Bayern Munich’s German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer raises the European Champion Clubs’ Cup during the trophy ceremony after winning at the end of the UEFA Champions League final football match between Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 23, 2020. MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain duo of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Real Madrid defender, Sergio Ramos are the other players in the ten-man shortlist. Marcelo Bielsa, who led Leeds into the English Premier League, is in the shortlist for the men’s coach award, which features Bayern’s Hans-Dieter Flick, Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, Sevilla’s Julen Lopetegui and Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane.

4. Pope Francis Receives NBA Players

 

 

This handout photo taken on November 23, 2020, and released by the Vatican press office, the Vatican Media, shows Pope Francis (C) meeting with five NBA players in the Pope’s private studio at the Vatican. Handout / VATICAN MEDIA / AFP

 

Pope Francis believes sports can be a great tool to fight social and economic injustice following his meeting, on Monday, with five NBA players.

“Looking at the problems in society and especially those of social justice, sport can be a good means of resolving them,” Pope Francis said during the event which was held at the Vatican. “We should always remember this because your message is the goodwill of sports but also working together as a team, the work as a community and may this be the seed of beauty and of a shared development towards justice.”

This handout photo taken on November 23, 2020, and released by the Vatican press office, the Vatican Media, shows Pope Francis (L) meeting with five NBA players in the Pope’s private studio at the Vatican. Handout / VATICAN MEDIA / AFP

 

The players  – Jonathan Isaac, Sterling Brown, Marco Belinelli, Kyle Korver and Anthony Tolliver – who spoke about their efforts at tackling inequalities in their communities described the meeting as “an incredible experience.” During last season’s NBA, players took a knee before matches and wore the Black Lives Matter slogan on jerseys, protesting the killing of a black man, George Flyod by a police officer in the US.

5. Champions League: Barcelona, Chelsea, Juventus, Sevilla Enter Last 16

 

Barcelona’s players celebrate their second goal during the UEFA Champions League group G football match between Dynamo Kiev and Barcelona at the Olympiyskiy stadium in Kiev on November 24, 2020. Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP

 

Spanish giants, Barcelona and North London side, Chelsea were among the first teams to reach the last 16 of this term’s Champions League, joining Juventus and Sevilla in claiming an early spot in the knockout phase of Europe’s elite club competition.

Chelsea’s French forward Olivier Giroud (C) celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between Stade Rennais FC and Chelsea FC at the Roazhon Park stadium in Rennes, western France, on November 24, 2020. DAMIEN MEYER / AFP

 

The Blaugrana shipped for goals past Dynamo Kiev away from home to move a step closer to securing their first Champions League title since 2015.  Manchester City have also made it to the round of 16.

6. Pepe Redeems Self As Arsenal, Roma, Others Make Europa League Knockout Phase

 

File photo: Europa League
File photo: Europa League

 

Nicolas Pepe netted as Arsenal qualified for the Europa League round of 32 with the Gunners beating Molde 3-0. The Ivorian scored just after half-time with a cool close-range finish to ensure the  North London side moved to the next stage of the competition which they got to the final two seasons ago.

Arsenal’s French-born Ivorian midfielder Nicolas Pepe (4th L) celebrates with teammates after scoring the 0-1 during the UEFA Europa League group B football match Molde v Arsenal in Molde, Norway on November 26, 2020. Svein Ove Ekornesvåg / NTB / AFP

 

Hoffenheim, Leicester and Roma complete the first four teams through to the UEFA Europa League next round.

7. COVID-19: A Green Light For Fans’ Return

 

premier-league-fixtures-today
Photo: Twitter/Premier League.

 

Football fans in English had reasons to smile over the week as clubs within the tier two areas can now allow spectators in sports arenas.  Although the Premier League is yet to confirm matches to be played over the weekend of December 5 and 6, clubs can welcome up to 2,000 fans.

During that weekend, Brighton will be at home against Southampton, Chelsea welcome Leeds, Premier League holders  Liverpool host Wolves at the Anfield just as Manchester United travel to the London Stadium for a date with West Ham.

The games would be the first batch of top-flight matches to be attended by fans since the outbreak of COVID-19 that shut spectators out of stadiums in March. While government had planned to let supporters back into sports venues in reduced numbers from October, the move was shelved following a spike in the coronavirus infection.

8. 2020 National Sports Festival Moved To January 2020

 

File photo: President Muhammadu Buhari with the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, and Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on January 30, 2020.

 

The National Sports Festival (NSF) earlier billed for Benin from Dec. 3 to Dec.13 has been postponed to Jan.3 to Jan.17, 2021.

According to the Ministry of Sports and Youth Development, the decision to move the games was arrived at during a virtual meeting with stakeholders on Thursday in Abuja.

Tagged Edo 2020, the games was earlier scheduled to take place in March, but was postponed to December due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

9. Coleman Appeals Ban For Breaching Anti-Doping Rules

 

In this file photo taken on June 20, 2019, Christian Coleman of the USA finishes 2nd in the 200m Men sprint of IAAF Golden Spike 2019 Athletics meeting in Ostrava. Michal CIZEK / AFP

 

World 100m champion, Christian Coleman has appealed the two-year ban handed to him by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU). Coleman wants the AIU to set aside that decision “and that the sanction be eliminated, or in the alternative, reduced.”

AIU in October banned the American sprinter saying  he “committed an ADRV in relation to an alleged filing failure and missed tests.” He was provisionally suspended for three ‘whereabouts failures’ in June with the World Athletics’ Disciplinary Tribunal upholding the charge, backdating it to May 14, 2020.

Coleman-christian
This file photo taken on September 27, 2019 shows Christian Coleman of the US reacting after the men’s 100m heats at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Khalifa International stadium in Doha. Jewel SAMAD / AFP

 

If the ban is upheld, Coleman would miss next year’s Olympic Games in Japan, an event he is touted to win the 100m gold.

10. 2021 FIBA AfroBasket Qualifiers Tips Off 

 

After months of delay occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 FIBA AfroBasket qualifiers tipped off on Wednesday.

Three groups  – made up of 12 teams  – are in Kigali, the Rwandan capital. These are teams in Group A, B and D while Group E will battle it out in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and Guinea – in Group C – had played during the February window in Yaounde, Cameroon.

The top three sides in all groups will book a ticket to the FIBA AfroBasket 2021. That is not, however,  the case in Group D which has Rwanda.

“In case, Rwanda is ranked first, second or third in this group, then the three highest-placed teams will make it to the final tournament from Group D,” FIBA explained in a statement on its website.

“This also means that the best fourth-placed team in all the five groups, based on the classification rules of the Official Basketball Rules, shall obtain the last spot for the FIBA AfroBasket 2021, making a total of 16 teams.  However, should Rwanda finish in the fourth position, all Group D teams will qualify for the FIBA AfroBasket 2021.”

11. United Forward Rashford Makes Football Black List

 

In this file photo taken on December 01, 2019 Manchester United's English striker Marcus Rashford applauds supporters on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 1, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP
In this file photo taken on December 01, 2019 Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford applauds supporters on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 1, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

England and Manchester United striker, Marcus Rashford has made the Football Black List, an initiative which celebrates the most influential black people in British football.

The 23-year-old’s campaign, raising awareness of  child poverty in the UK and convincing the government to give children school meals, earned him a place in the list.

Photo: [email protected]

 

Aston Villa and England defender, Tyrone Mings; Watford striker, Troy Deeney and Crystal Palace and Ivory Coast forward, Wilfried Zaha were some of those who made the Football Black List. It was founded in 2008 by sports journalists Leon Mann and Rodney Hinds, and spotlights positive influencers from the black community in sport.

Tears, Memories As Argentina’s Primera Division Returns Without Maradona

Walter Montoya of Racing Club (2nd R) cries as he wears a special jersey with the colors of Argentina and a logo of Maradona to pay homage to the late Argentine football legend before a Copa Diego Maradona 2020 football match between Racing Club and Union at the Presidente Peron Stadium in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires province, Argentina, on November 28, 2020. (Photo by Rodrigo Valle / POOL / AFP)

 

The first games in Argentina’s Primera Division since the death of Diego Maradona kicked off Saturday amid tears and memories, with the club he last coached notching up a victory in tribute to the footballing genius.

Players from Racing and Union de Santa Fe entered the pitch at Avellaneda wearing national jerseys with Maradona’s number 10 on the back.

They warmed up to the sound of “Life is Life” — a song made wildly popular by an accompanying video of the Argentine great performing feats of magic with the ball.

Standing around the centre circle, they marked the legend’s passing with a minute’s applause.

A kite in the Argentine colours was released, in reference to the “Cosmic Kite” moniker given to the diminutive playmaker by commentator Victor Morales after his “Hand of God” goal against England in the 1986 World Cup.

“He is a great one, it goes without saying,” said Racing midfielder Walter Montoya, unable to hold back tears during the tribute.

“There is no need to say anything else, all words are futile.”

Maradona’s last public appearance came four weeks ago for his 60th birthday celebration at the stadium of Gimnasia y Esgrima, the club he was coaching before he underwent an operation to remove a clot on his brain.

He died in his sleep on Wednesday aged just 60, plunging his South American homeland and football globally into mourning.

Gimnasia paid their own tribute to the star with a 1-0 victory over Velez in Buenos Aires in a later Saturday fixture.

Several Gimnasia players coached by the legend were also on the verge of tears before kickoff.

“It was crazy to play, because we are still reeling from this blow,” midfielder Victor Ayala said after the match.

“But we did what Diego taught us… For us, he was like a father, calling us whenever we needed something… From up there, he must be proud of this team.”

AFP

Police, Fans Clash At Diego Maradona’s Wake

Fans affected by tear gas thrown by riot police during clashes, walk near the Casa Rosada government house where people is paying tribute to Argentinian late football legend Diego Armando Maradona in Buenos Aires, on November 26, 2020. JUAN MABROMATA / AFP

 

Riot police fired rubber bullets and tear gas in clashes Thursday with football fans near the wake for Argentine football legend Diego Maradona in Buenos Aires.

Officials earlier ordered Maradona’s coffin to be moved to another room inside the presidential palace after fans took over an inner courtyard and disrupted his lying in state.

The government had early announced a three-hour extension to the wake to allow time for thousands of fans to pay their respects.

READ ALSO: Referee Who Missed ‘Hand of god’ Hails ‘Genius’ Maradona

Tens of thousands of people had queued from early morning to file past the star’s coffin, draped in the Argentine flag and the player’s No.10 jersey, at the presidential palace.

Many of the mourners were in tears, and some wore replicas of the World Cup winner’s jersey as they gathered at the Casa Rosada palace to see his coffin.

But as the day wore on, fans queueing outside the palace grew increasingly impatient and some took over a courtyard inside the palace, where they chanted slogans.

Officials moved Maradona’s coffin to another room as a security precaution, a government source told AFP.

Photo released by Telam of fans of Argentinian late football legend Diego Armando Maradona confronting riot police outside the Casa Rosada presidential palace as Maradona’s wake takes place inside, in Buenos Aires, on November 26, 2020. Ramiro GOMEZ / TELAM / AFP

 

At the same time, riot police clashed with stone-throwing fans on streets around the palace, and several people were arrested.

Maradona died of a heart attack on Wednesday while recovering from surgery earlier this month to remove a blood clot on his brain.

He was to be buried later Thursday at the Jardin de Paz cemetery on the outskirts of the Argentine capital, where his parents were also laid to rest, his spokesman Sebastian Sanchi told AFP.

AFP

 

Referee Who Missed ‘Hand of god’ Hails ‘Genius’ Maradona

In this file photo taken on February 26, 2013, Football legend Argentinian Diego Maradona gestures during a press conference in Naples. CARLO HERMANN / AFP

 

Tunisian former referee Ali Bin Nasser, who officiated the 1986 World Cup quarter-final in which Diego Maradona scored his famous double against England, hailed the Argentinian as a “genius” following his death, aged 60, on Wednesday.

Bin Nasser admitted that he doubted the validity of Maradona’s infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal, but said the football legend’s second strike in the game was a “masterpiece”.

In the 51st minute of a politically-charged last-eight clash in Mexico, four years after the Falklands War, Maradona outjumped England goalkeeper Peter Shilton and punched the ball into the net to give his country the lead.

“I didn’t see the hand, but I had a doubt,” Bin Nasser, the first Tunisian to referee a World Cup quarter-final, told AFP.

“You can see the pictures — I stepped back to take the advice of my assistant, Bulgarian (Bogdan) Dochev, and when he said it was good, I gave the goal.”

The 76-year-old said he believed he was a go-to man for FIFA in tough matches, and that world football’s governing body gave him a high rating for his performance in the game.

“I had already refereed a match between the USSR and China in 1985, I was the man of difficult missions for FIFA,” Bin Nasser said.

“FIFA gave me a 9.4 on this game, I did what I had to do, but there was confusion — Dochev later indicated that he had seen two arms, and he didn’t know if it was Shilton’s or Maradona’s.”

Argentina secured their place in the semi-finals of a tournament they would go on to win when Maradona put them two goals ahead with a strike later voted the ‘Goal of the Century’.

The then-Napoli star evaded six England players’ attempts to either tackle or foul him during a mesmerising run from the halfway line, before prodding into an empty net.

READ ALSO: Argentines Mourn Maradona, ‘The Most Human Of gods’

“I was ready to whistle for a dangerous foul on Maradona,” remembered Bin Nasser of a goal which proved to be the winner after Gary Lineker pulled one back for England.

“I thought after 50 yards of effort they were going to bring him down.

“I was proud to participate in that masterpiece.”

Maradona visited Bin Nasser 29 years later while shooting an advertisement in Tunisia, giving him a T-shirt bearing the words “To my eternal friend Ali”.

“We had a good time, I told him that that day, it was not Argentina who won, but him, Maradona.

“He was a genius, a football legend. As a referee, I did not allow myself to close my eyes even for a second when following him, because he was capable of anything.”

AFP

Maradona Death Kept From Ailing Former Coach Bilardo

In this file photo taken on February 26, 2013, Football legend Argentinian Diego Maradona gestures during a press conference in Naples. CARLO HERMANN / AFP

 

Carlos Bilardo, the coach of Argentina’s 1986 World Cup-winning team who is in poor health, was still unaware on Thursday of the death of Diego Maradona on Thursday, because of his family’s wish not to upset him.

Maradona, who captained the 1986 team, died on Wednesday from a heart attack at the age of 60.

“I cannot tell him that Diego is dead,” Carlos’s brother Jorge Bilardo told Radio Provincia, because he had a “father-son” relationship with Maradona.

Carlos Bilardo had repeatedly said during interviews that Diego was “the son that (he had) not had”.

The former coach, 82, is suffering from neurological disorders.

READ ALSO: Argentines Mourn Maradona, ‘The Most Human Of gods’

He lives in an apartment in Buenos Aires where he is treated by nurses who are prohibited from letting him watch television.

“The nurse already knew that if this happened, the television had to be turned off,” said Jorge Bilardo.

“She did so by telling him that the cable had been cut.”

Carlos Bilardo took Argentina to three World Cups, from 1982 to 1990. They won the title in 1986 and, with Maradona still very much the playmaker, reached the final four years later when they lost to West Germany.

AFP

Argentina And The World Of Football Mourn Maradona

Fans hold photos of Argentinian late football legend Diego Armando Maradona outside the Casa Rosada government house as they wait to pay their tribute to his coffin in Buenos Aires, on November 26, 2020. PHOTO: RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP

 

Thousands of Argentines filed past Diego Maradona’s coffin in Buenos Aires on Thursday after the country and the world of football was plunged into mourning by his death at the age of 60.

Mourners, many in tears, and many wearing the World Cup winner’s number 10 Argentina jersey, gathered at the Casa Rosada presidential palace where the national hero’s coffin was draped in the sky blue and white Argentine flag.

Many more will pay homage to one of the all-time sporting greats before his burial on the outskirts of Buenos Aires later on Thursday.

READ ALSO: Diego Maradona’s Life In 10 Key Dates

Maradona will be laid to rest in the Jardin de Paz cemetery, where his parents were also buried, his spokesman Sebastian Sanchi told AFP.

Tributes poured in from around the world as supporters, players and government leaders marked the passing of a sporting genius whose career and life was sometimes tainted by a loose interpretation of the rules of the game and a crippling addiction to cocaine.

The outrageously skilful Maradona, widely remembered for his “Hand of God” goal against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals, died Wednesday of a heart attack while recovering from brain surgery, a member of his entourage told AFP.

Family members were summoned to Maradona’s home north of the Argentine capital before his death was announced.

Lionel Messi, Argentina’s modern-day superstar, led the tributes as he said: “He has left us but he will never leave us because Diego is eternal.”

READ ALSO: Maradona To Be Buried Today Outside Buenos Aires – Spokesman

Brazilian legend Pele, 80, constantly compared with Maradona in the debate over football’s greatest player, said he hoped they would one day “play together in the sky”.

Despite a wave of coronavirus cases in Argentina, fans gathered at landmarks including Buenos Aires’ Obelisk monument and Argentinos Juniors’ Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, where he started his career.

 

– ‘Hand of God’ –

Maradona, born in Lanus, just south of Buenos Aires, on October 30, 1960, also played for Boca Juniors and Barcelona before becoming a hero in the working-class southern Italian city of Naples in a career marked by wild highs and lows.

In his most infamous match, he leapt and used his fist to score past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals in Mexico City, memorably describing the goal as “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God”.

Minutes later he weaved through six English defenders from the halfway line to score an unforgettable solo second which was later honoured as FIFA’s “Goal of the century”.

The two contrasting goals perfectly encapsulated the mixture of brilliant skill and often outlandish behaviour that ran through Maradona’s life.

Maradona’s career was crowned by his performances at that World Cup, when he captained Argentina to glory.

After dismissing England he scored twice in the semi-final against Belgium and set up the 86th-minute winner in the final against West Germany.

It was to prove the highlight for Maradona, who inspired Argentina to the 1990 final only for West Germany to take their revenge. In 1994 he was in physical decline and, following an eye-bulging goal celebration direct to the TV cameras after scoring against Greece, failed a drugs test and was sent home in disgrace.

Gary Lineker, who was in the beaten England team in 1986, said Maradona was “arguably the greatest of all time”, adding in a reference to the controversial goal: “After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God. #RipDiego.”

Excesses with drugs and alcohol had long taken their toll on Maradona’s health. He was admitted to hospital three times in the last 20 years for serious health issues due to his addictions.

 

– ‘Ciao Diego’ –

Maradona grew up in poverty, but his extraordinary talent was clear from a young age at Argentinos Juniors and Boca.

He moved to Barcelona but was singled out for rough treatment by opposing defenders and soon fell out of love with the Spanish club.

It was in Naples where Maradona would enchant an entire city by leading the then unfashionable Napoli to their only two Italian league titles in 1987 and 1990, befriending a mafia family along the way.

“Always in our hearts. Ciao Diego,” Napoli tweeted, while the club’s president and the city’s mayor called for the Stadio San Paolo to be renamed after Maradona.

In recent years, Maradona, reduced to hobbling by the ravages of his career and lifestyle, had coached in the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Argentina without ever hitting the heights of his playing days.

Maradona married his long-time girlfriend Claudia Villafane in 1984. They had two daughters, Dalma and Gianinna, but the relationship was punctuated by Maradona’s extra-marital affairs and they divorced in 2004.

He also had a son, Diego Junior, born in Naples in 1986, although he only acknowledged paternity in 2004.

In 2000, FIFA ran an online Player of the Century poll. Maradona gained 54 percent of the vote and Pele was second with 18 percent. FIFA declared them joint winners.

AFP

Maradona To Remain In Hospital For Treatment After Surgery – Doctor

Supporters of Argentine former football star and coach of Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata Diego Maradona gather outside the hospital where he undergoes a brain surgery for a blood clot, in Olivos, Buenos Aires province, on November 3, 2020. JUAN MABROMATA / AFP

 

Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona is to remain in hospital for several more days to undergo treatment following surgery to remove a blood clot on the brain, his doctor said Thursday.

“We saw that in the postoperative phase Diego had episodes of confusion,” Leopoldo Luque told reporters.

Therapists treating Maradona had linked the behaviour to withdrawal symptoms and the necessary treatment would last “a few days,” he said.

Luque did not provide details, but Maradona has a long history of drug and alcohol addiction.

Although he has publicly said he no longer uses cocaine, friends and media reports have suggested he remains addicted to alcohol.

In this file photo taken on November 02, 2019, Gimnasia y Esgrima team coach Diego Armando Maradona gestures to supporters as he leaves the field after an Argentina First Division Superliga football match against Estudiantes, at El Bosque stadium, in La Plata, Buenos Aires province, Argentina.  ALEJANDRO PAGNI / AFP

 

At a press conference outside the private clinic in Buenos Aires where surgeons spent 80 minutes removing the clot on Tuesday night, Luque took pains to present an upbeat assessment of the 60-year-old’s overall condition.

“Diego is doing well. The CT scan came out well. We were even dancing. Yes, we danced!” the doctor said.

The doctor said Maradona “agrees” with the diagnosis and would remain in the clinic.

Earlier Thursday, he said doctors were happy with the former player’s condition: “He can walk, talk to me….It’s very early this, but the recovery is excellent.”

World Cup winner Maradona had been taken to hospital in La Plata — where he is the coach of top-flight side Gimnasia y Esgrima — on Monday for a series of tests after feeling unwell.

A scan revealed the blood clot, and on Tuesday he was transferred to the clinic in a northern neighborhood of the capital.

Fans have flocked to the clinic to leave banners showing the star in his prime and messages of support for the ailing icon.

Alongside Brazil’s Pele, who turned 80 last month, Maradona is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.

– ‘Depressed’ –
Maradona, who turned 60 on Friday, has suffered ill health before. He has survived two heart attacks, and also contracted hepatitis and underwent gastric bypass surgery.

Prior to falling ill, Maradona had been depressed, his lawyer Matias Morla said on Wednesday.

The famously fast-living icon had only been able to spend half an hour at his own birthday celebration at his team’s training ground on Friday, when he had difficulty walking.

“He was behaving strangely. He was very depressed and spoke about dead relatives that he missed,” said Morla.

He said Maradona was “very worried” about the surgery and praised Luque, adding that “if he hadn’t detected the clot, Maradona’s fate would have been different.”

Luque insisted on Tuesday that the procedure was “a routine operation.”

Maradona Recovering Well From Successful Brain Surgery On Blood Clot

Supporters of Argentine former football star and coach of Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata Diego Maradona gather outside the hospital where he undergoes a brain surgery for a blood clot, in Olivos, Buenos Aires province, on November 3, 2020. JUAN MABROMATA / AFP

 

Argentine football great Diego Maradona is recovering “without complications” from successful brain surgery for a blood clot, his personal doctor said on Wednesday.

Surgeons at a specialist private clinic in Buenos Aires spent 80 minutes removing the clot on Tuesday night.

“He has no neurological issues. He’s progressing without any complications,” said Leopoldo Luque.

World Cup winner Maradona had been taken to hospital in La Plata — where he is the coach of top-flight side Gimnasia y Esgrima — on Monday for a series of tests after feeling unwell.

A scan revealed the blood clot, and on Tuesday he was transferred to the specialist clinic in a northern neighborhood of the capital.

“We managed to successfully remove the clot. Diego coped well with the surgery,” said Luque.

Maradona, who turned 60 on Friday, has suffered ill health before. He has survived two heart attacks, and also contracted hepatitis and underwent gastric bypass surgery.

Following this surgery, fellow Argentina football star Lionel Messi sent him a message of support.

“Diego, all the strength in the world. My family and I want to see you well as soon as possible,” said the Barcelona forward, who like Maradona in his pomp wears the No.10 jersey.

Groups of fans congregated outside the clinic with banners showing Maradona’s face and the words “Come on, Diego!”

“Once more his health has played a trick on him but he has antibodies to recover with the help of the people,” fan Oscar Medina told AFP.

– ‘Behaving strangely’ –
Due to his age and previous health issues, Maradona is considered high risk in relation to the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit Argentina hard.

Several times in the last eight months he has been in isolation and was forced to stay at home last week after a bodyguard showed coronavirus symptoms, although he later tested negative.

Prior to falling ill, Maradona had been depressed, his lawyer Matias Morla said on Wednesday.

The famously fast-living icon had only been able to spend half an hour at his own birthday celebration at his team’s training ground on Friday, when he had difficulty walking.

“He was behaving strangely, he was very depressed and spoke about dead relatives that he missed,” said Morla.

He said Maradona was “very worried” about the surgery and praised Luque, adding that “if he hadn’t detected the clot, Maradona’s destiny would have been different.”

Luque insisted on Tuesday that the procedure was “a routine operation.”

“The operation consists of a small incision to drain the blood. In 24 or 48 hours the patient can leave the hospital,” neurosurgeon Raul Matera told TyC Sports channel.

Maradona’s daughter Dalma said she had visited her father after his surgery but did not give further details of his condition.

“I just want to thank everyone for the constant displays of love for my dad, for my sister and for me, thanks to everyone who prayed for him,” she tweeted on Wednesday morning.

– Anemic –
Maradona was transferred from the hospital in La Plata, 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Buenos Aires, to the capital at 6:00 pm (2100 GMT) on Tuesday accompanied by another daughter, Giannina.

Dozens of Gimnasia fans outside the La Plata hospital chanted his name as he left.

Earlier in the day, Luque claimed Maradona was suffering from anemia — a lack of iron in his system — and dehydration.

He also suggested Maradona’s lifestyle had contributed to his condition.

“He’s an elderly patient with many pressures in his life. It’s a time when we must help him. It’s very difficult to be Maradona,” Luque said of the star.

He said it was a condition that also affected Vice President Cristina Kirchner when she was president.

“It breaks my heart to see him like this,” Giannina tweeted the next day.

Maradona has difficulty retaining iron due to gastric bypass surgery he underwent in 2005 to lose 50 kilograms (110 pounds), leaving him prone to anemia, Luque said.

Though he has recovered from a well-documented addiction to hard drugs, Maradona takes medication in the form of tranquilizers and anxiolytics.

AFP

‘China’s Maradona’ Signs For Espanyol

 Shanghai SIPG’s Wu Lei celebrating during the Chinese Super League (CSL) football match between Shanghai SIPG and Beijing Renhe in Shanghai.  STR / AFP

 

Prolific forward Wu Lei, dubbed “the Chinese Maradona”, has signed for Espanyol in La Liga, the Spanish club and Shanghai SIPG said on Monday. 

The 27-year-old was top scorer in the Chinese Super League (CSL) last season, hitting 27 goals to play a major part in SIPG’s maiden title success.

“The new blue and white player will wear the number 24 on his shirt,” Espanyol, who are in the bottom third of La Liga, said in a statement.

There was no immediate word on the size of the transfer fee.

AFP

Argentines Caught Between Love And Indifference For Maradona

Former Argentina forward Diego Maradona (C) celebrates the opening goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Nigeria and Argentina at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 26, 2018.
Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

 

Argentine legend Diego Maradona is a controversial idol, worshipped as a god for his World Cup-winning exploits but whose life of excess has left a tormented public back home torn between veneration and derision.

The 57-year-old hit the headlines in Russia this week when he was filmed making two-handed middle-finger gestures to fans during Argentina’s narrow win over Nigeria in their final World Cup pool game.

How to take his attention-grabbing outbursts is a recurring theme back home in Argentina.

“He thinks that the love that Argentines lavish on him is so great that when he behaves badly we’ll look the other way,” said 55-year-old businessman Bruno Sollner.

Daniel Carballo, 56, agreed that Maradona “is not an example, at least not for me and most of my friends and my family, no.”

“There are things that are not acceptable, but well, he’s like that,” Carballo added.

Other South Americans tend to perceive Argentines as arrogant, and Maradona’s cockiness and public anguish seem to personify a nation’s suffering at its team’s stuttering performance in Russia.

“He is arrogant, he gets out of control because of arrogance,” said Sollner.

Maradona got adoration for his goals against England in the 1986 World Cup, both the cheat goal he scored with his hand — he called it the “Hand of God” — and another, when he danced past five English players to score what is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest goals of all time.

In Buenos Aires that day, he became a god. It was almost as if he had avenged with a football Argentina’s painful defeat in the Falklands War against Britain four years earlier.

– Idol of a new generation –

Irreverent, charismatic and provocative, Maradona remains an idol in Argentina, even for a generation too young to have seen him play, when his name became synonymous with footballing genius.

Paula Garcia Paz, a teacher, was six when Maradona lifted the World Cup in 1986.

“I’ll never forget it, that goal against England is something so memorable for Argentines,” she said.

Sollner said “we love him because he has stood up to the powerful, because on the pitch he never gave up, and you can see how much defeat hurts him.

“That devotion for a soccer fan is vital, it’s called sweating for the shirt,” he added.

The antics at the World Cup have been amusing and disturbing by turns, but for Argentines a distracting sideshow to the main event on the pitch.

Carried out of his seat in the VIP box after the match, he was forced to deny rumors he had been hospitalized, saying the next day that he was “very alive.”

“In Russia he’s caused a stir, he’s a guy who retired decades ago and who won things 30 years ago, but if he sneezes. we’re all on tenterhooks, waiting. That’s unique. That’s Maradona,” said Sollner.

– Diego, to the Nth degree –

Those who know Maradona describe him as having an explosive personality while keeping his feet on the ground, despite having reached a sporting Olympus.

“Diego was a kid in the slum, with a kite, on which he wrote the name Maradona. He started to run and the kite took flight, but he stayed on the ground,” is how biographer Guillermo Blanco puts it.

Blanco said Maradona “just like everyone else has goodness, badness, ego, solidarity… but when he does something, he’s unlike others who are considered ‘balanced.’ He does it to the Nth degree.”

Angry with his daughters, in a legal battle with his ex-wife, scammed by a relative or banned for doping at the 1994 World Cup, Maradona’s turbulent front-page life makes him a figure of pity for many Argentines, particularly the middle class.

They still deride him for flaunting his friendships with late leftist leaders Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.

He insists he no longer takes cocaine, a habit that began in his heyday with Italian team Napoli, but his behavior during the Nigeria match has given rise to some concern.

“He needs to continue getting attention like in former times, but by giving an even worse example,” said Laura Orsi.

“He is an icon of another time, but he erased all the glory with his behaviour: drugs, alcohol and fame went to his head,” said the 56-year-old systems analyst.

– More than Messi –

There are inevitable comparisons between Maradona and Lionel Messi, but until the younger man wins a World Cup, Maradona remains a cut above for most Argentines.

“Messi is a phenomenon, but the world of football, until now, has not seen a player like Maradona,” his old teammate Claudia Caniggia said recently.

Another contemporary, Julio Olarticoechea, agreed: “Seeing him, not only in games, but in training, was something else. Diego was magic. That’s the word.”

“Messi still hasn’t managed to give us the happiness Diego did,” said Garcia Paz, the teacher.

“He thought he was a god and made many mistakes, but I know that the day he leaves this world, Argentina will be paralyzed.”