Fri, Mar 30, 2007 - Page 24 News List

Cigars, food and drink land soccer legend in hospital


Soccer legend Diego Maradona was hospitalized against his will in Buenos Aires after falling ill from over-indulging in food, alcohol and cigars, his personal doctor said yesterday.

The life of the 46-year-old former Barcelona and Napoli star was not in danger, doctor Alfredo Cahe told reporters, but Maradona will stay in a shared room at Guemes Hospital where he was taken late on Wednesday for "several days."

"He didn't have a very consistent lifestyle, in his eating habits, his drinking and the amount of cigars he smoked," Cahe said, adding that Maradona had not gone back to using cocaine.

"He is smoking three or four Habanos [Cuban cigars] a day. For him, who didn't smoke, it's too much," he said.

"This, in addition to stress, was a logical reason to hospitalize him, and against his will," Cahe said, adding that Maradona was not suffering heart or brain ailments.

Results of a medical examination were to be revealed late yesterday, he said.

In April 2000 Maradona had a heart attack in Uruguay following a cocaine overdose. Four years later, another heart attack followed another overdose. After spending weeks in intensive care, his weight ballooned to alarming levels, prompting him to undergo gastric bypass surgery in 2005.

Late on Wednesday, Guemes Hospital said in a statement that the former Argentina star had been taken by ambulance to the hospital "to undergo an examination after having suffered a decompensation."

It gave no details, but said "it does not have any relation to the consumption of dangerous drugs."

Maradona, who led Argentina to a 1986 World Cup trophy, was taken to the hospital after feeling ill at his parents' house, Argentine television said.

His ex-wife Claudia Villafane, his daughters Dalma and Giannina, and Cahe, arrived at the facility later.

Outside a team of police guards lined up and dozens of fans stood around anxiously waiting for news about the former football star's health.

Maradona shares the FIFA title of the 20th century's best player with Brazil's Pele after a sparkling career with Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli.

Born on October 30, 1960 just outside Buenos Aires, Maradona amassed a fortune during 21 years in football, scoring 50 goals in 115 games for his national side.

He proved his genius in the crucible of the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico, with a series of brilliant displays that led Argentina to the title.

But his career was dogged by controversy over misbehavior on and off the field, including several suspensions for drug use.

His life on and off the pitch has been checkered by embarrassing episodes, which only worsened since his retirement at 37.

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