x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Diego Maradona grieving after death of his mother

The Al Wasl coach "burst into tears" on the team bus after being told his mother's condition had detoriorated.

Diego Maradona poses with his mother, Dalma, in Buenos Aires.
Diego Maradona poses with his mother, Dalma, in Buenos Aires.

Diego Maradona, the Al Wasl coach, has left Dubai for Argentina following the death of his mother.

Dalma Franco de Maradona, known to Argentines as Dona Tota, died aged 81 on Saturday [Sunday UAE time] in a Buenos Aires clinic where she has been in intensive care since Friday. She had been treated several times previously for a heart complaint.

According to Wasl officials, Maradona was informed his mother had slipped into a coma on the team bus on the way to last night's Etisalat Cup match with Al Ain and "burst into tears". He still took charge of the team for the game, which Wasl lost 1-0.

The joint Fifa Player of the Century boarded a flight, which Wasl arranged and paid for, from Dubai to Buenos Aires this morning to be with his two younger brothers and two sisters. Maradona was very close to his mother and he had a tattoo with the words "Tota I love you" put on his back before he moved to Dubai in August.

"Maradona will be given as much time as he needs," Ahmed Khalifa, Wasl's chief media officer, said. Khalifa added the club have told Maradona "to spend as much time with his family as possible". Wasl club officials plan to fly to Argentina for the funeral.

Ali Hassan, the Wasl assistant coach, will take charge of training this week ahead of the club's Pro League game on Friday at Emirates.

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero, partner of Maradona's younger daughter Gianina and father of his first grandson Benjamin, wrote on his Twitter account: "A very sad day... Thanks for the support. We're all with Diego and the family."

ncameron@thenational.ae