Maradona gives thanks to God

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Dego Maradona, the Argentine who once attributed his controversial World Cup goal against England in Mexico in 1986 to the "Hand of God", said on Thursday that the same divine hand saved him from serious injury in a head-on car crash in Cuba.

Dego Maradona, the Argentine who once attributed his controversial World Cup goal against England in Mexico in 1986 to the "Hand of God", said on Thursday that the same divine hand saved him from serious injury in a head-on car crash in Cuba.

"It was God's will that nothing more serious happened, because it could have been much worse," Maradona said just hours after escaping with only bruises from the accident, in which his jeep crashed into a tourist bus on Wednesday.

"I'm okay, although I feel as though I've been kicked all over... I got off lightly," the 39-year-old former footballer told Argentine radio from Havana, where he spent Thursday resting and recovering.

Witnesses reportedly claimed that Maradona, who has been undergoing treatment for cocaine addiction in Cuba, was driving his jeep the wrong way down a road at night when the crash occurred on the outskirts of the capital, Havana.

Maradona said he spent an hour trapped in the twisted wreckage of the jeep before he was cut free. His first words after the collision were: "Call my Mum and tell her I'm okay."

Maradona offered no explanation as to why, according to local people and accident investigators at the crash site, he had been heading the wrong way down one side of a divided roadway in darkness when the collision occurred.

"It was raining and misty... there was a closed bridge which a minute before had forced me to swing the wheel around and go in a different direction," Maradona said.

A friend travelling with Maradona, Carlos Ferro Viera, and the Cuban driver of the tourist bus, which carried no passengers, also escaped uninjured. An ambulance took Maradona and Ferro Viera to hospital for a precautionary check-up, including X-rays, before they returned to the Havana health hotel, where the former Argentine captain has been undergoing rehabilitation for drugs abuse.

Maradona has been undergoing treatment in Cuba since January and doctors said he was recovering well from his drugs problem. He is a self-confessed admirer of Cuba's president Fidel Castro, who paid him a get-well visit early in his stay.

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