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It was a matter of life and death for Maradona

MADRID, JUNE 28. The family of Diego Maradona doesn't regret putting him on psychiatric care for drug rehabilitation because it was a matter of life or death, his ex-wife said in Spain.

The Argentine soccer great is in rehab at a psychiatric hospital in Buenos Aires, where he was placed against his will by the family last month.

``The decision to commit him was taken jointly by the family, because if we hadn't Diego would have died as we had been alerted by the doctors,'' Claudia Villafane told TV station Telecinco on Saturday. ``The family doesn't regret it. It was a matter of life or death.''

Maradona has been receiving treatment in Buenos Aires since early May, when he was rushed to a clinic for heart and lung problems.

Maradona, a 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.

Villafane said that she would do everything she can to help her former husband to break the drug addiction, but understood that Maradona's biggest difficulty was to be realistic.

``He doesn't want to admit what's happening to him, nor does he want to acknowledge that we're divorced. He still keeps the wedding ring,'' said Villafane married Maradona in 1989 when he was playing for Napoli.

She said she felt pity that he was not able to enjoy life, and blamed his situation on his inability to cope with fame.

``He always said that he had been taken to the peak of a mountain (of fame) but, once there, nobody told him what to do,'' she said.

Maradona led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title and 1990 final during a 20-year career. He retired in 1997, and in 2000 FIFA chose him and Pele as the best soccer players ever. — AP

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