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Maradona fights for life after heart failure
Updated: 2004-04-19 09:29

Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona, who has a history of drug abuse, was under intensive care in a Buenos Aires clinic after suffering acute heart failure.

Maradona fights for life after heart failure April 18, 2004. [AP Photo]
The Suizo-Argentina clinic said in a statement that the 43-year-old former captain of the Argentinian national team was unable to breathe by himself.

His doctor, Alfredo Cahe, told reporters that Maradona's reaction over the next 24-48 hours would be crucial to his recovery chances.

Buenos Aires swirled with rumours about the cause of the illness, with the TN television channel saying Maradona had a drug overdose.

Maradona, who is considered one of the greatest footballers of all time, has been battling drug addiction for years. He was suspended while playing in the Italian championship in the 1990s after testing positive for cocaine.

Maladona passes six Belgian defenders in a match during 1982's FIFA World Cup. [sina.com]
The Buenos Aires clinic said Maradona was admitted after suffering "congestive heart failure" caused by high blood pressure.

It said Maradona "is receiving medication to strengthen the heart; and as he developed acute respiratory failure he was put on a ventilator and therefore is heavily sedated."

"The reaction to the medication has been favourable, and he is stablised." But the statement said doctors gave only a "reserved" assessment of his condition.

Cahe told reporters outside the clinic "we will have to wait 24-to-48 hours to know the evolution." Cahe refused to answer questions about whether Maradona had had a drug overdose.

Cahe accompanied Maradona when he was taken to the clinic.

The TN report quoted members of Maradona's "intimate circle" as saying the former footballer was rushed to hospital following an overdose.

Maradona's father, Diego, his ex-wife, Claudia Villafane, and their two children, Dalma and Gianina, had been at the hospital.

And this heightened speculation about the condition of the former skipper of Argentina's 1986 World Cup-winning team.

Maladona kisses his 14-year-old daughter on her birthday. [sina.com]
"He wanted to have a few health check-ups," one of the former footballer's close relatives told reporters as rumours mounted that Maradona was in intensive care. The clinic released the statement as it became the subject of international attention.

Maradona's recent return to Argentina from Cuba on March 22 had prompted concern and speculation about his health because of the excess weight he has put on.

Maradona had earlier watched his former club Boca Juniors play league rivals Nuevo Chicago but left during the second half and was later admitted to the clinic.

Since January 2000, Maradona has spent a lot of time in Cuba where he has already made attempts to kick his alleged drug habit.

Maradona played 91 matches for Argentina and scored 34 goals, including his infamous "hand of God" goal against England when he fisted the ball into the net. His career began in 1977 and ended in 1994.

He has played for a host of famous clubs including Boca Juniors, Newells Old Boys and Napoli in Italy's Serie A. Maradona also played for Barcelona and Sevilla in Spain.

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