Maradona 'to go to Brazil for drug treatment'

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The Independent Football

A Sao Paulo hospital is preparing a drug rehabilitation programme for Diego Maradona. A hospital spokesman, Fernando de Souza Miguel, said a person close to the Argentinian contacted the facility 20 days ago.

"The person asked us to be on standby, and with all the necessary infrastructure ready for a possible continuation of Maradona's treatment here," Mr De Souza Miguel said, without revealing who made the request. The Master Mind hospital in Jundiai, 28 miles north of Sao Paulo, specialises in psychiatry and addiction to chemical substances. It has already prepared a luxury suite for Maradona, who led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup.

The hospital offers a 12-step programme based on the patient's own recognition of dependency and the strengthening of self-consciousness. The clinic also uses acupuncture to help in the treatment. Mr De Souza Miguel said he had no idea when the possible treatment would start.

Maradona has been at a psychiatric hospital in Buenos Aires since early May, when he was rushed to a clinic for lung and heart problems. Alfredo Cahe, Maradona's personal physician, said on Tuesday that Maradona appeared to be taking drug rehab seriously "for the first time in his life".

Maradona, a self-confessed cocaine addict, had been undergoing drug rehabilitation in Cuba for the last four years before he was hospitalised twice after returning to Argentina in April. Each time, he was placed in intensive care. Mr Cahe said he was consulting with Maradona and his family to see if he should continue treatment outside Argentina.

Maradona, who also led Argentina to the 1990 World Cup final, retired in 1997. In 2000, Fifa chose him and Pele as the greatest players in football history.

* The France international Willy Sagnol says he will make a final decision about his future at Bayern Munich after Euro 2004 ends in July. "I want to leave Bayern, that is a clear fact. I've said this to the club's officials six months ago," Sagnol said. "But right now, I'm preparing for Euro 2004 and I will decide after the tournament," he added. Sagnol, whose contract runs until 2006, said earlier this month he wanted to leave Munich with the club's former coach Ottmar Hitzfeld. France start the defence of their European title on 13 June against England in Lisbon. They will also face Switzerland and Croatia in Group B in Portugal.