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Highlights on Off The Ball

Diego Maradona is beginning to look more human than divine

As Diego Maradona recuperates from brain surgery he underwent earlier this month, Marcela Mora y ...

Diego Maradona is beginning to...

Diego Maradona is beginning to look more human than divine

As Diego Maradona recuperates from brain surgery he underwent earlier this month, Marcela Mora y Araujo, journalist and translator of El Diego into English, joined OTB Sports to discuss the Argentine icon and his shifting legacy. 

Shortly after celebrating his 60th birthday, Diego Maradona, the iconic Argentine footballer, was admitted to hospital after complaining that he felt unwell. After a CT scan revealed subdural haematoma on his brain, Maradona successfully underwent emergency surgery to remove the blood clot.

A routine procedure as Maradona's physician termed it, Marcela Mora y Araujo, a journalist specialising in South American football and the translator of Maradona's autobiography, El Diego, into English, discussed with OTB Sports the changing face of the former footballer's legacy in light of this recent event.

"Clearly, he is not psychologically or neurologically well," Mora y Araujo surmised, speaking in spite of the relatively straight-forward surgery.

"It emerged last week that he was actually tied to his bed which would suggest that he really is not well. I do not suspect he is at death's door just yet, but he is certainly very much a middle-aged man who needs to slow down.

"He is not well, he is not a well man."

Amid scenes of such bodily deterioration, Marcela Mora y Araujo believes that Maradona, so often regarded as an otherworldly kind of figure, is being viewed in a different light.

"I think Argentinians, particularly, are more divided over him," she explained of the local perception of Maradona against his global renown.

"He has kind of become more human than legendary, just through time, really. He has somehow been incorporated as just another guy.

"Obviously, the hospitalisation was massive news and anything he does is still big news, but the way his private life has been played out over the years, there is a kind of unliked and unloved side of him that is very public and people are happy to view negatively.

"A decade ago, perhaps, the pressure to either love or hate Maradona the symbol, or the idol, I find people are talking about him more in human terms now. Perhaps negatively, critically or even with concern for his health, he is less of, 'Woah, the God, the God, the God!'

"That could just be generations who have not seen him play but remain incredibly familiar with the figure. 'He was the best footballer you ever saw.'

"Whereas now he can actually be a large, drooling, odd guy who is fighting with a child who he doesn't want to acknowledge as his own."

Diego Maradona Argentine midfield mastermind Diego Maradona (front centre) holds the World Cup trophy

Although it is understood that Diego Maradona came through his recent procedure with relative ease, there remain serious concerns regarding his lifestyle. A long-time chronicler of the global icon, Mora y Araujo has seen such concerns shared by his physicians before - and summarily ignored by Maradona.

"I did a piece about 15 years ago when Diego had nearly died," she recalled, "and he came back to life miraculously and was hosting a TV show.

"Those closest to him and his doctor were worried about his excesses. It is not so much to do with a particular substance, it is his addictive personality. He has in the past been admitted to hospital close to cardiac arrest because of his consumption of pizza and champagne.

"He is a man of extremes, but I think he is also a man who has proven time and time again that he can fall really quite low before bouncing back again onto his feet.

"That 60th birthday though, it is such an iconic, round number. Many of us never thought we would actually ever celebrate Maradona's 60th birthday. He has dribbled past death so many times."

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Argentina Barcelona Boca Juniors Diego Maradona Marcela Mora Y Araujo Napoli