Americas

Diego Maradona

Shame to His Name

He once was considered one of the world's most promising soccer players. Self-centered and arrogant, always beaming with self-esteem and pride, the former captain of Argentina's world-famous soccer team became the ultimate idol during the World Youth Championship in Japan in 1979.

Diego Maradona, 39, has made headlines many times since -- mainly because of the much-publicized metamorphosis of the once-toned, muscular athlete into a physically broken, bloated cocaine addict. Wearing his hair dyed a bright orange, he has been seen nodding off on his wife's shoulder after speaking incoherently in public.

Now Maradona is in the headlines again: He has declared himself a friend of all Cubans after seeking medical treatment on the island. "Diego has sought help in a place where he can find both medicine and rest," writes Jorge Alvarez in Buenos Aires's Pagina 12. "Instead of sophisticated medical care, [he] will get peace of mind," Maradona's physician told Alvarez. Maradona suffers from heart problems related to his drug addiction.

Argentina's Pibe de Oro (Golden Boy) has regained what seemed lost: the spotlight. Proudly displaying a huge tattoo of Che Guevera on his right arm, the soccer star explained that he chose Cuba "because of the dignity of its people. I, too, am a rebel in this convoluted world."

Indeed. Shortly after his arrival, Maradona made headlines by smashing a foreign journalist's car window with his fist, after complaining that reporters were following him. This comes as a bit of a surprise, since, according to Pagina 12, "nobody is running after [Maradona] anymore for his autograph."

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