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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 November 2018

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

Fears had been raised over the 57-year-old's health after he was filmed being helped away from his seat after the match between Argentina and Nigeria

Diego Maradona has responded to concerns for his health after he appeared to fall ill at the World Cup.

The Argentine legend declared "I am fine" in a post on Instagram, sharing a photo of himself being attended to by a medic.

Fears had been raised over the 57-year-old's health after he was filmed being helped away from his seat after the match between Argentina and Nigeria.

He said: "I want to tell everyone that I am fine, that I am not, neither was I interned. In the half-time of the game against Nigeria, my neck hurt a lot and I suffered a decompensation.

"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!"

Maradona roared and gesticulated through every anguished second of Argentina's rollercoaster World Cup victory over Nigeria on Tuesday before triggering alarm with a health scare after the final whistle.

Lionel Messi may have dominated the on-field action in Saint Petersburg, but from his VIP box in the stands, Maradona reigned supreme as the undisputed centre of attention.

Maradona, who led his country to World Cup glory in 1986, started the evening dancing playfully with a female Nigeria fan, saluting and waving to well-wishers applauding him in the moments before kick off.

Throughout Argentina's nerve-shredding 2-1 victory, which secured the South American giants' passage into the last 16, the host broadcaster television feed regularly cut to images of Maradona, as the tension mounted.

When Messi gave Argentina the lead early in the first half, Maradona screamed his delight, crossing his hands across his chest and gazing to the heavens.

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.

But the jubilation turned to alarm soon after the final whistle when a video emerged on social media of Maradona walking with difficulty and being guided into the dining room of the VIP section by two friends.

Other photographs showed two uniformed paramedics attending to him, with one appearing to take his pulse.

Argentina media reported that Maradona had suffered a spike in his blood pressure. Argentinian newspaper Ole later reported that Maradona was able to walk and had gone to his hotel.

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 14 updates - Germany and Neymar's Brazil in action

World Cup 2018: As it happened - Argentina beat Nigeria to advance to last 16

Profile: Marcus Berg, the self-deprecating successor to Ibrahimovic who Sweden rely on for more than just goals

'Never write us off': Germany in unfamiliar World Cup territory, but their strength lies in being Germany

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