Maradona dismisses comeback invitation

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Diego Maradona has wasted little time in ruling out a return to Argentinian football with Excursionistas. The Primera C club had expressed an interest in signing the 45-year-old after Maradona said in a television interview that he would consider playing for "a club in Primera C or D, because there's not too much pressure as they are semi-professional divisions".

But the former World Cup winner, who last played in 1997, dashed Excursionistas' hopes last night, saying: "I'm 45, so I'm not thinking about playing football nor committing myself to anybody. I won't be having any discussions with the Excursionistas board. I don't know them, but I really thank them for taking me into account.

"Having said that, I won't lack respect for the game."

When Excursionistas heard of Maradona's initial interest in resuming his playing career at a lower level, the club's president, Armando Mainoli, said: "We want to include Maradona on the official roster. We'd be really proud to see Diego wearing our shirt."

Excursionistas start the final stage of the Apertura campaign against Lamadrid on 4 February and have nine matches before the season wraps up.