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Diego Maradona out of critical condition

Diego Maradona was no longer in a critical condition after being rushed to hospital five days earlier.
PTI | By Frederic Garlan (AFP), Buenos Aires
PUBLISHED ON APR 22, 2004 11:39 PM IST

Argentina football legend Diego Maradona was on Thursday no longer in a critical condition after being rushed to hospital five days earlier apparently at death's door with heart and breathing problems.

Doctors at the exclusive Swiss-Argentine clinic where Maradona was admitted on Sunday said they hoped to take the 43-year-old off a respirator within 24 hours.

A statement issued by the clinic said the doses of drugs used to treat his heart condition had been reduced and the results had been encouraging.

The doctors also noted an improvement in Maradona's breathing.

"If the results of the respiratory tests remain adequate, we will evaluate whether to take away the respirator in the next 24 hours."

Maradona's personal doctor Alfredo Cahe told local radio that he was "past the critical state".

"Diego is very strong. His heart is unbelievable and it has almost returned to its normal state. It is still enlarged, but it is working normally," Cahe added.

Maradona was admitted to the clinic on Sunday just hours after seeing his former side Boca Juniors play. Cahe has refused say if his problems were drug-related.

Maradona became addicted to cocaine during a seven-year spell playing for Italian side Napoli from 1984-91.

Since his admission to hospital, only his parents, his ex-wife Claudia Villafane, his two daughters and several close friends have been allowed to see him.

His nephew Daniel Lopez said he blamed the family for allowing the once muscular and fleet-footed Maradona to grow obese and bloated.

"We should have been closer to him," said Lopez. "I feel a little responsible for what has happened to Diego.

"We could not help him because we were prevented from doing so by people who were around him at that time."

The concerns of Maradona's family were echoed by world football chief Sepp Blatter, who said the Argentine "had everything on his side to recover."

"But he is often badly advised and keeps bad company," added the FIFA president.

Maradona's roller-coaster career, which included 34 goals in 91 matches for Argentina, began in 1975 and ended in 1997.

He led Argentina to their second World Cup in 1986 after winning a controversial quarter-final against England, when he scored his "Hand of God" goal by fisting the ball over England goalkeeper Peter Shilton's outstretched hands.

Maradona led Argentina to the final of the 1990 World Cup in Italy, but he was a fading force and West Germany took the trophy.

In 1991, Maradona tested positive for cocaine and was banned for 15 months.

He played in his fourth World Cup in the United States in 1994 but tested positive for a cocktail of drugs and was thrown out of the tournament.

In recent years Maradona sought treatment for his addiction to drugs in Cuba, where he was often seen alongside the country's president, Fidel Castro.

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