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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 June, 2004, 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK
Drug rehab 'saved Maradona'
Diego Maradona
Argentine legend Maradona is said to be on the mend
Diego Maradona's ex-wife claims that committing him for psychiatric care for drug rehabilitation was the only way to save his life.

The Argentine hero's family placed him in a Buenos Aires hospital against his will in May.

His former wife Claudia Villafane said: "The decision to commit him was taken jointly by the family and we certainly don't regret it.

"If we didn't, Diego would have died as we had been alerted by the doctors."

Maradona's family had him admitted to the Del Parque Clinic in the Buenos Aires suburb of Ituzaingo to try and cure him from his drug addiction and alleviate the heart and lung problems that at one point had put his life in danger.

The World Cup winner had been undergoing drug rehabilitation in Cuba for the last four years before he was hospitalized twice after returning to Argentina in April.

Villafane claimed she is prepared to do anything to help her former husband kick his addiction.

He always said that he had been taken to the peak of a mountain but, once there, nobody told him what to do
Diego Maradona's ex-wife Claudia Villafane

But she said: "He doesn't want to admit what's happening to him.

"Nor does he want to acknowledge we're divorced, he still keeps the wedding ring."

She blamed Maradona's situation on his inability to cope with fame.

Villafane said: "He always said that he had been taken to the peak of a mountain but, once there, nobody told him what to do."

A recent statement from the hospital said 43-year-old Maradona has recovered 50% of his cardiac capacity, had lost eight kilos and is overcoming drug addiction withdrawal symptoms.

It had only been 35% when he entered the Suizo Argentina Clinic's intensive care unit on 18 April.

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