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Maradona opens eyes, consumes solid foods

Diego Maradona opened his eyes and began consuming a mix of liquid and solid foods amid expressions of relief on Tuesday from family, friends and fans.
PTI | By Associated Press, Buenos Aires
PUBLISHED ON APR 27, 2004 07:57 PM IST

Diego Maradona opened his eyes and began consuming a mix of liquid and solid foods amid expressions of relief on Tuesday from family, friends and fans over medical reports of new progress.

But the legendary Argentine soccer player remained under a "guarded prognosis" and continued in intensive care after he was admitted April 18 to a private hospital with serious heart and lung problems.

The latest statement by his medical team was expected Tuesday afternoon as fans kept up a more than weeklong vigil outside the Suizo Argentina Clinic where Maradona remains ensconced in a fourth-floor critical care unit.

Maradona, who led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title, opened his eyes for the first time on Monday, the leading-circulation daily Clarin reported.

The report in Tuesday's editions said Maradona's former wife, Claudia, and their two teen-age daughters were now able to spend more time at his bedside as he showed signs of improvement.

More visitors were expected as players and coaches from the soccer world continued to show their concern for the 43-year-old former star, whose enormous talent on the soccer field has won him acclaim as one of the best ever to play the sport.

Although doctors in their last report didn't say what foods Maradona was consuming, they said he was on a special diet meant to assist his recovery. They also reported that antibiotics had brought a lung infection under control.

Meanwhile, the medical team had no details on the heart inflammation condition that helped land Maradona in the hospital. But they said the 43-year-old former star, taken off a respirator over the weekend, was now breathing without an oxygen mask.

Outside the downtown Buenos Aires clinic, fans, curiosity seekers and tourists have thronged daily, some lighting candles or taping hundreds of messages, posters and sporting memorabilia to the walls.

In his 20-year career, Maradona won Italian and Argentine league titles. In 2000, FIFA chose him as the game's best ever, alongside Pele. Off the field, however, drug and medical problems also garnered attention.

Maradona's family said drug problems had nothing to do with his current hospitalization.

Maradona was suspended from the Italian league while playing for Napoli in 1991 for 15 months following a positive test for cocaine. Three years later, FIFA suspended him for 15 months for a positive test at the World Cup finals in the United States.

Maradona retired from professional soccer in 1997.

In January 2000, Maradona was hospitalized while vacationing in the Uruguayan resort city of Punta del Este. At the time, he was diagnosed with a severe heart condition.

He later moved to Cuba to undergo drug rehabilitation.

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