Diego Maradona had quite the day on Tuesday as he watched his beloved Argentina narrowly beat Nigeria in Saint Petersburg to secure their place in the last 16 of the World Cup.
[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]
Maradona, 57, was seen praying, waving banners and singing his heart out before the game had even begun. During the game he was shown several times by the TV cameras and looked anxious throughout.
But when Marcos Rojo‘s superb volley in the 86th minute all but confirmed Argentina’s passage to the knockout rounds, Maradona lost the plot and made an obscene gesture by flipping two birds.
Amongst it all he was shown being helped into a suite and paramedics were checking him over, but the Argentine legend had the following to say via an Instagram post.
“I want to tell everyone that I am fine,” Maradona said. “In the half-time of the game against Nigeria, my neck hurt a lot… I was checked by a doctor and he recommended me to go home before the second half, but I wanted to stay because we were risking it all. How could I leave? I send a kiss to everyone, thanks for the support!”
It will be intriguing to see if Maradona is present for Argentina’s last 16 clash against France in Kazan on Saturday.
Judging by his comments above, there’s no way he’s missing that game.
Diego Maradona was one of the stars of Tuesday’s World Cup match between Argentina and Nigeria, and no you didn’t miss a story about the 57-year-old coming out of retirement.
Maradona was captured on camera doing everything from sleeping to dancing with a Nigerian fan to flipping a pair of birds to hecklers while seemingly mouthing an offensive slur after Argentina took a 2-1 lead.
[ MORE: Rojo, Messi react to win ]
And while all that goes from questionable to entertaining and back, depending on the instance in question, what occurred after the game was nothing short of concerning.
Video of Maradona needing help to get up the stairs in his corporate suite raised concerns and reports followed of a possible hospitalization.
The Independent reports that the Argentine legend was treated by paramedics and transported to a local hospital, but is stable and will fly back to Moscow.
It’s been a pretty trying and criticism-filled 36 hours for Lionel Messi and Argentina, and that was already true before the World Cup hero that is Diego Maradona weighed in.
[ MORE: Where to watch Monday’s games, feat. England and Belgium ]
No longer are La Albiceleste simply known as the side that drew tiny Iceland — the smallest nation to ever qualify for the World Cup — but now their efforts on Saturday have been dubbed “a disgrace” by Maradona.
It’s not so much the players whom Maradona, manager of the national team for the 2010 World Cup (quarterfinals appearance, beaten 4-0 by Germany), has gone after, but current boss Jorge Sampaoli for his lack of a proper gameplan befitting the opponent. As for Messi, who failed to convert a critical penalty kick, Maradona has absolved the Barcelona superstar of much of the blame — quotes from the BBC:
“It’s a disgrace. Not having prepared for the match knowing that Iceland are all [6-foot-3] tall.”
“I get the feeling there’s an anger at the heart of the team.”
“I don’t blame the players. I could blame the lack of work rate. But I can’t blame the players, much less Messi, who gave it all he had,” said Maradona.
“I missed five penalties on the spin and I was still Diego Armando Maradona. I don’t think that they dropped two points because Messi missed a penalty.”
Mousa Dembele‘s been appreciated as a midfielder for sometime, but the Belgian is getting as many rave reviews as any other non-scorer these days.
Tottenham’s middle man got the twice-over from his manager on Friday, as Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino prepares for Crystal Palace.
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Calling Dembele a “genius,” Pochettino heaped praise on the 30-year-old.
“I’ve told you, I put him next to Ronaldinho, Maradona, Okocha – players I’ve been lucky enough to play with. For me he’s one of the unbelievable talents in the history of football.”
The temptation is to make a joke about Dembele being next to Ronaldinho and Maradona in the lobby of an awards ceremony, but the player has been dynamite for some time.
The advanced stats, for what they’re worth, aren’t incredibly kind to Dembele aside from his club-best 93 percent passing percentage and average of 2.2 successful dribbles per game. Still, it’s improbably hard to ignore the eye test, and Dembele passes that one every time.
Spurs are off to Selhurst Park for a Sunday match with Palace (Watch live at 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
According to Diego Maradona’s lawyer, the Argentine legend has been refused entry to the USA for insulting president Donald Trump.
The 57-year-old former World Cup winner wanted to obtain a visa to travel to Miami, Florida, for a court case involving his ex-wife, Claudia Villafane.
However Maradona’s lawyer, Matias Morla, appeared on Argentine TV show Buenos Dias America and discussed comments the legendary player made on Venezuelan network TeleSur.
“You can imagine, I was in the embassy and I said ‘Diego, please don’t talk about the United States’. Because the interview was with TeleSur and I know how these things go.
“And the second question was ‘What do you think of Donald Trump’?
“He said ‘Donald Trump is a chirolita (a slang term for dummy or puppet)?’ After this, I said I’m going to have to represent you in Miami instead.”
The court case in Miami surrounds Villafane allegedly buying seven apartments in Miami with money she stole from Maradona.
Maradona is currently the head coach of Al-Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, but he has been denied entry to the USA in the past after taking drugs during the 1994 World Cup.