Diego Maradona was mobbed by dozens of enthusiastic fans when he arrived in Venezuela to visit President Hugo Chavez and attend a series of events aimed at promoting sporting activities.
Maradona told state media he was eager to meet with Chavez - a friend who shares his love for sports and leftist political ideals - as fans waved Venezuelan and Argentine flags yesterday at Simon Bolivar International Airport - named after Venezuela's 19th-century independence hero.
"I'm in the land of Simon Bolivar to meet with President Hugo Chavez," said Maradona, according to a government statement.
"Together, we will participate in various activities to promote Venezuelan sports."
He did not elaborate, but Venezuela's Sports Ministry announced the Argentine football coach would travel with Chavez to the central state of Cojedes today to attend a graduation ceremony for university athletes. He will also meet with local sports trainers to share ideas, it said.
Maradona has espoused leftist views in the past and boasted of his friendships with Chavez and former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.