Maradona thanks fans for support

Published on Apr 28, 2004 01:39 AM IST

In his first public statement after 10 days in intensive care, he wished "good luck" to Argentina for their friendly match against Morocco.

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PTI | ByReuters, Buenos Aires

Diego Maradona, in his first public statement after 10 days in intensive care with heart and breathing problems, on Tuesday thanked fans for their support and wished Argentina luck in their friendly against Morocco.

In a letter read out to journalists and fans who have held a constant vigil outside the Buenos Aires hospital, Maradona gave his "huge thanks for the constant support and affection" of his fans.

The former World Cup winner added a "good luck" to Argentina, who play Morocco in Casablanca on Wednesday.

The 43-year-old, who can tolerate liquids and some foods, is now breathing without the aid of an artificial respirator and continues to be stable, the Suizo-Argentina clinic in Buenos Aires said in a statement.

La Nacion newspaper reported that Maradona managed to crack some jokes, telling his youngest daughter he planned to eat out at night.

However, he remains in intensive care and still requires another drip for a lung infection.

Maradona, who has put on so much weight he is scarcely recognisable from his playing days, was taken to hospital on April 18 with a swollen heart and breathing difficulties. Doctors later said he also had pneumonia.

Hundreds of fans have kept a vigil outside the hospital, some carrying pictures of their hero with get well messages and others praying.

Maradona, who has been undergoing a drugs rehabilitation programme in Cuba since 2000, returned to Argentina in March.

He spent his time playing golf, visiting his daughters and appearing on television chat shows before falling ill shortly after watching his former club Boca Juniors, where he owns a VIP box.

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