Football legend Diego Maradona has been forced to deny he is dying in an extraordinary video address to fans after his daughter Giannina hinted he was being ‘killed from inside’ with sedatives.
The former Barcelona and Naples star has also told his growing brood of children he will leave them nothing after his death because he will donate his fortune to charity.
In a video filmed from what appeared to be his home in Argentina the 59-year-old retired footballer-turned manager, who has battled drink and drug addictions as well as weight problems, said: ‘I want to tell you that I’m not dying at all, that I sleep peacefully because I’m working.’
Responding to new fears about his health Giannina sparked last week by appearing to ask fans to ‘pray for him’ and claiming he was being sedated with pills like a ‘caged lion’.
Maradona added: ‘I don’t know what she meant to say or what she had interpreted.
‘What I do know is that as you get get older, people worry more about what you’re going to leave than what you’re doing.
‘I tell you all that I’m not going to leave anything, that I am going to donate it. I’m not going to give away everything I earned by running during my life, I’m going to donate it.’
Looking as if he was making a conscious effort to give off an appearance of calm but seeming to slur his words at times, he added with a smile: ‘I am very healthy. Very healthy. Thank you.’
Giannina joked earlier this year after the names of three children said to be Maradona’s in Cuba were made public: ‘Just three more needed for the team of 11. You can do it!!!’
Giannina Maradona, one of his the Argentinian’s two grown-up daughters by ex-wife Claudia Villafane, did not name the person she was referring to in her social media messages last week.
But her cryptic messages, posted in the wake of Maradona’s 59th birthday last Wednesday, left most observers in little doubt she was pointing the finger at her father.
She said in an Instagram Story: ‘He’s not dying because his body decides but they are killing him inside without him realising it.
‘I don’t believe in the benchmark NORMAL, but that is a long way from the reality he deserves. Pray for him please.’
She added in a second post: ‘Do you remember a zoo where you could take pictures with a gigantic lion?
‘You could go into its cage and for a bit more ‘cuddle’ it.
‘They had it pilled-up, otherwise it would have been impossible to tame the wild animal.
‘Any resemblance to reality is a pure coincidence.’
And in a third post, written over a mural based on a photo of her dad during his footballing heyday leading her by the hand as a little girl which she first posted on his birthday, she added: ‘Give me your hand like this again, so I can lead you now.’
In June the retired footballer was forced to deny he had incurable Alzheimer’s disease.
He posted a video on his Instagram page insisting he was ‘not dying’ from the irreversible brain disorder and branding the people behind the rumours: ‘Sons of they know who.’
The retired footballer, speaking out after Argentinian newspaper Cronica published a report pointing to him suffering ‘neurological problems’ and the ‘start of Alzheimer’s’, raged: ‘They’re lying, they’re lying. They speak of Alzheimer’s and they don’t know what it means.
‘The word Alzheimer’s is an awful word. People with Alzheimer’s die. I’m not dying. These sons of they know what throw it out there to create confusion. I don’t do confusion.’
His lawyer Matias Morla admitted at the time Maradona had stepped down as manager of Mexican side Dorados to focus on his health and undergo shoulder and knee surgery, but added: ‘In the light of reports Diego Maradona is suffering from the onset of Alzheimer’s I wish to state that none of the medical tests he has undergone show anything of the sort.’
Maradona subsequently underwent knee surgery at a private Buenos Aires clinic and boasted afterwards: ‘Today I walked again like I did when I was 15.’
The soccer great was also at the centre of concerns about his health last year after having to be helped away from his VIP box and assisted by medical staff when Argentina narrowly avoided an early World Cup exit in Russia with a dramatic late goal against Nigeria.
Two Spanish-language recordings which went viral – recorded by the same man and released shortly after the match – claimed he had suffered a fatal heart attack.
One said an adrenaline injection to his heart had failed to save him and the Argentinian squad were yet to be told he had passed away in hospital.
A second 42-second recording, a WhatsApp message sent to a mystery man called Mati by someone passing himself off as an Argentinian sports journalist based in Russia, added: ‘They are only going to be announcing the news tomorrow. It’s a family decision.’
WATCH the clip HERE