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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 April, 2004, 09:58 GMT 10:58 UK
Maradona starts talking
Diego Maradona
Doctors says they are still cautious about Maradona's condition
Diego Maradona has spoken his first words since being admitted to intensive care 11 days ago with heart and breathing problems.

The former Argentina captain has also been able to get out of bed.

The 43-year-old remains in intensive care and is not expected to leave hospital for up to another three weeks.

Argentina's players carried a banner saying "Diego, Argentina is with you" before their 1-0 win over Morocco in Casablanca on Wednesday night.

Maradona is said to have asked doctors for permission to watch the game on television.

His fans have organized a demonstration of support for their idol on Saturday in front of an obelisk landmark in Buenos Aires.

The 1986 World Cup-winning captain was taken to hospital on 18 April with breathing trouble before tests also revealed infected lungs.

"While this process is going to be slow, one can say things are now better and I'm relieved," his daughter Dalma said.

The hospital added: "The breathing functions are intact and the brain tomography showed normal parameters. His heart rhythm and blood pressure are normal."

Maradona's personal physician Dr Alfredo Cahe denied that the ex-player, who has been battling drug addiction for years, had taken a cocaine overdose.

When Maradona was admitted to the clinic, Argentina President Nestor Kirchner said: "I send him a big hug, I hope he recovers fast.

Fans hold up a tribute to Maradona

"Like all Argentines it causes me deep pain. We must stand by him. He has made all Argentines cry with joy. He is a great person."

Maradona's ex-wife Claudia Villafane has been almost constantly at his bedside since his arrival at the clinic, along with the couple's two children.

Maradona has been visited by family and friends, including his ex-wife and their two children.

Former Argentina coach Carlos Bilardo, his former agent Guillermo Coppola and ex-Argentina international Hector Enrique have also been to see the stricken star.

In 2000, in Uruguay, Maradona suffered a severe heart attack because of a cocaine overdose.

He then began a long treatment programme in Cuba but since an overweight Maradona returned to Argentina, speculation and concern has grown over his health.

Maradona enjoyed a colourful 20-year footballing career, moving to Catalan giants Barcelona for 1.7m in 1982 after the World Cup in Spain.

In 1984, he signed for Napoli for a then-world record 4.1m and transformed a mediocre club into one of the best in Italy and with whom he won the scudetto.

Now at the peak of his form, Maradona led Argentina to a 3-2 triumph over West Germany in the 1986 World Cup final.

After leading Napoli to the Uefa Cup in 1989, Maradona again played for Argentina in the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

But his displays were generally less effective than in 1986 and, although Argentina reached the final, West Germany's Lothar Matthaus was the star of the tournament and led his country to victory.

In 1991, Maradona failed a dope test for cocaine and was banned for 15 months.

Maradona played in his fourth World Cup in the United States in 1994 but tested positive for a cocktail of drugs the day before he was due to make a record 22nd appearance in the tournament.

In 2000, Maradona tied with Pele for the accolade of the best player in Fifa's history.

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