Maradona plumps for staple diet

Last updated at 16:06 07 March 2005

Former Argentina soccer World Cup-winning captain Diego Maradona had his stomach stapled to reduce his ballooning waistline, his Colombian doctors have revealed.

Maradona, 44, had the two-hour operation in the picturesque port city of Cartagena on Colombia's Caribbean coast.

"Everything went well," Francisco Holguin, head of Cartagena's Medihelp clinic, where the operation was performed, told reporters.

He said the former superstar, who is 5'6 tall and weighed 19st when he checked in, will spend three days in the clinic recovering.

The former midfielder only stopped playing professionally in 1997 but has grown almost unrecognizably fat in recent years despite spending much of his time in a Cuban clinic fighting cocaine addition.

Maradona, considered with Brazil's Pele to be one of the finest soccer players of all time, will be fed intravenously for two days before going on a two-week liquid diet to be followed by solid foods, his doctors told a news conference. He is expected to remain in Colombia for about two weeks.

"In eight to 10 months he should be back to his ideal weight of 11st 11lbs," Holguin added.

Stomach stapling, also known as a gastric bypass, reduces the stomach's capacity for holding food and bypasses part of the small intestine, forcing individuals to eat less.

Maradona, whose audacious playing propelled his home country Argentina to World Cup victory in 1986, spent more than a week in the intensive care unit of a Buenos Aires hospital last April with heart and breathing problems. He was then confined to a psychiatric clinic by his family.

In September, he returned to Cuba, where he has lived since 2000, to undergo more treatment for drug addiction but under a stricter regime than before.

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