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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 June 2006, 19:24 GMT 20:24 UK
Police seize Maradona's watches
Diego Maradona near Naples, wearing two watches on his wrists
Maradona was "very polite" throughout the incident, police said
Italian police have stripped two Rolex watches from Argentine football legend Diego Maradona to pay off some of his 30m euros ($39m) in back taxes.

The incident happened as the former star was visiting the city of Naples on Tuesday to play in a charity match.

The tax police said it had a judicial order authorising the seizure of anything of value "within plain sight".

Maradona ran up the debt while playing for Naples in 1984-1990. He says the club should have paid the taxes.

"We were surprised he was wearing [the Rolexes] because he knows that when he comes to Italy he risks losing something," Napoli tax police officer Geremia Guercia told the Associated Press news agency.

He said Maradona "was very polite, very gentle, very calm" throughout the incident.

Together the watches are worth about 10,000 euros, Mr Guercia said.

But he hoped they could fetch far more on auction because of Maradona's enduring fame among football fans.

Last year, Italian police seized his fee for appearing in a televised show.

The footballing legend led Argentina to its 1986 World Cup triumph and captained the national team in the 1990 tournament, when it reached the final.

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