From the April 2000 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 47, No. 4)

Diego Maradona

Shame to His Name

Tekla Szymanski, World Press Review associate editor

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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