Former Argentine soccer player Diego Maradona tested negative for COVID-19 on Monday, allaying fears he had contacted the virus after hugging a colleague who was later found to have tested positive, his lawyer said on Monday. The man who led Argentina to the World Cup in 1986 took the test after coming into close contact last Friday with Facundo Contin, a player who tested positive for the virus less than a day later.
“The test that Diego Maradona took has come back negative for Covid,” his lawyer Matias Morla said on Twitter. “Thanks to all the Argentines for their concern and best wishes. Stay safe because the virus is still out there among us.” Maradona is currently the coach of Gimnasia y Esgrima, a first division club from the city of La Plata.
The 59-year old has suffered a string of health issues in recent years and remains overweight.
Argentina has the world’s highest rate of positive COVID-19 tests, according to Oxford-linked tracker Our World In Data, with nearly six out of 10 yielding an infection, a reflection of low testing levels and loose enforcement of lockdown rules.
Maradona, who was an erratic and brilliant striker and is widely considered to be one of the greatest players of all time, most recently coached in Mexico, where he led second division side Dorados of Sinaloa to two unsuccessful playoff appearances.
Return to coaching
His new team, from the city of La Plata just outside Buenos Aires, was formed in 1887 and claims to be the oldest professional football club in the Americas.
Maradona’s return was eagerly expected and jubilant fans turned up at the club on Thursday to welcome him. It marked a working return to his homeland for the first time in almost a decade, following a spell in charge of the national side between 2008 and 2010. He also had stints as club coach at Mandiyu and Racing in the 1990s. The 58-year-old won the World Cup as a player with Argentina in 1986 but has had frequent hospital treatment over the years, often due to his extravagant lifestyle.
Maradona was taken into hospital in 2004 with severe heart and respiratory problems linked to cocaine use. He later underwent drug rehabilitation in Cuba and Argentina before a stomach-stapling operation in 2005 helped him lose weight.