Maradona remains hospitalized, condition improving

Apr 16, 2007 - 7:31 PM BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Ticker) -- The medical condition of legendary soccer star Diego Maradona has improved, according to a statement released by doctors at Los Arcos hospital in Buenos Aires on Monday.

Maradona was rushed to the hospital last Friday with severe abdominal pain. He was listed in stable condition on Saturday.

"The development in his health is favorable," the statement said. "Even though the biochemical results are not normal, there is a tendency towards recovery. The goal of the medical staff treating the patient is to consolidate the treatment to help his family continue it once he is at home."

The 46-year-old Maradona will remain for the time being at the clinic, where he will be looked after by a medical team including doctors and psychiatrists supported by obesity, nutrition and liver specialists.

Last Wednesday, Maradona - who has a history of drug problems - was released from a hospital after two weeks of treatment for acute hepatitis due to an over-indulgence in smoking, drinking and eating.

On March 28, Maradona was admitted to Guemes Hospital after falling ill. The hospital said there was no link between the illness and his well-documented battle with drugs.

Maradona led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title and is one of soccer's all-time greats. In 2001, he was named by FIFA as one of the greatest players in soccer history, putting him alongside Brazilian legend Pele.

Off the pitch, Maradona has lived an extravagant lifestyle, battling cocaine addiction and obesity. The scheduled trip to Switzerland was for a series of tests to determine whether he can shift the weight gained since undergoing a stomach-stapling operation in 2005 that saw him lose 66 pounds.

In 2000, Maradona was hospitalized with a severe heart problem. Four years later, he spent several days in intensive care with heart and breathing problems.

Maradona also led Argentina to the World Cup title in 1990, then was banned for 15 months a year later after failing a drug test. He also failed a drug test during the 1994 World Cup, retiring three years later.

Maradona's signature moment came in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals against England, when he intentionally struck the ball with his hand to score the famous "Hand of God" goal, which stood even though Maradona punched the ball into the net.

That match also included what FIFA dubbed "the greatest goal in World Cup competition" in which Maradona dodged numerous opponents on his way to scoring the game-winning tally.

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