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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 July 2018

Diego Maradona 'angry' over World Cup health scare coverage

'I am very much alive,' Argentine legend tells TV programme, saying reports of his ill health were greatly exaggerated  

Diego Maradona gestures to fans from the stands at the Saint Petersburg Stadium during the World Cup match between Argentina and Nigeria. Reuters
Diego Maradona gestures to fans from the stands at the Saint Petersburg Stadium during the World Cup match between Argentina and Nigeria. Reuters

Diego Maradona was shocked by how his World Cup health scare on Tuesday was reported and insists: "I am very much alive."

The 57-year-old, who captained Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986, said he had been suffering from neck pain as he attended his country's game against Nigeria earlier this week.

But he denied reports he had been hospitalised and demonstrated his good health with an appearance on Telesur's De La Mano del 10 programme.

He said: "I was shocked that [reports suggested] there had been a stretcher, an ambulance. Nothing happened.

"We were all together, the Telesur team and my team, and we could not believe how social networks started to make a big lie, which made no sense, go viral like that.

"It makes me a bit angry, because my sister, yesterday she made me whistle on the phone to see if I was OK, and I went [whistles].

"'What else do you want me to do?' I asked her.

"My brother in Italy, my nephew in the United States worried, because of course the bad news travels much faster than the good news.

"I am very much alive, and very well taken care of."

Argentina beat Nigeria 2-1 to progress to the last 16 of the World Cup, where they will face France on Saturday.

The 1986 World Cup-winner looked increasingly frazzled as the game wore on, at one stage slumped forward in his seat just before half-time.

After Nigeria made it 1-1 from the penalty spot after the break – a scoreline that would have sent Argentina crashing out of the tournament – Maradona grew increasingly distraught.

By the 80th minute, he sat with his hands covering his face, unable to watch as the seconds ticked towards a footballing calamity for Argentina.

Yet when Marcos Rojo swept in a sumptuous volley with four minutes remaining, Maradona exploded with emotion, shouting an obscene insult before raising the middle finger of each hand in the direction of the pitch.

GALLERY: Maradona's roller-coaster of emotions during match against Nigeria

Maradona has had a series of health problems, including cocaine addiction.

In 2007, he reportedly came close to death after being admitted to a hospital in Buenos Aires to be treated for hepatitis and substance abuse.

Maradona was in May appointed as chairman of Belarusian club Dynamo Brest following a season in UAE club football management.

The Argentine left Fujairah on April 27 after failing to guide the UAE second-tier side to automatic promotion to the Arabian Gulf League. Fujairah eventually clinched a place in the top flight by overcoming Hatta in a play-off.

Maradona was linked initially with a return to the Fujairah hot-seat in a frenzied few days following his departure, but has now made the unlikely move to board level at Brest. The club, eighth in this season’s Belarusian Premier League, have given him a contract through to 2021.

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Read more on World Cup 2018:

World Cup 2018: Day 15 updates - Germany out, England take on Belgium

WATCH: Messi sits out training as Argentina prepare for World Cup clash with France

What next for Achilles the cat after error with Argentina victory over Nigeria?

Extra Time podcast: Messi finally comes through as World Cup knockout stages take shape

'I am fine': Maradona reassures fans after health scare in Argentina World Cup thriller

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