Diego Maradona was condemned for a crude celebration of Argentina’s winner against Nigeria and later appeared to fall ill at the World Cup.
Television cameras swung his way, seconds after Marcos Rojo’s 86th-minute strike hit the back of Nigeria’s net, as Maradona thrust middle-finger gestures with both hands.
The 57-year-old drove Argentina to glory at Mexico ’86, helped by his ‘Hand of God’ goal against England, and he played at four World Cups.
BBC screengrab of Diego Maradona celebrating Argentina’s second goal during the match against Nigeria (BBC/PA)
At the finals in Russia, Maradona has been a notable presence at all of his country’s matches, watching from the stands. And when Rojo cracked in Argentina’s second goal in a hard-fought 2-1 victory in St Petersburg that carried the team through to the last 16, he held nothing back.
Swinging his arms exuberantly, he also appeared to shout out an insult before cameras turned away from the former Barcelona and Napoli player, who has had a number of personal problems since his playing days.
Gary Lineker, hosting BBC One’s coverage of the game, said of England’s one-time nemesis at full-time: “There’s a danger of him becoming a laughing stock I’m afraid in many ways.”
BBC sports presenter Dan Walker wrote on Twitter: “And that’s why you don’t show Maradona no matter how good he was in his prime”.
Maradona was then filmed being helped away from his seat after the match. A video published widely in Argentinian media raised concerns over his health, but he was later pictured looking happy and alert.
Maradona looked to be unsteady on his feet and was taken to a seat in a hospitality suite. Argentinian newspaper Clarin showed pictures of Maradona being attended to by medical staff.
Another Argentinian newspaper, La Nacion, reported that Maradona was able to walk normally and leave the stadium minutes later.
He was later pictured looking in far better health by Patricia Villegas, president of Latin American broadcaster teleSUR.
She reported Maradona had boarded a flight to Moscow.
A number of earlier reports had claimed Maradona had been taken to hospital.
However, alongside a picture of Maradona on what looked to be a luxury jet, Villegas wrote: “1:41 am Russia. About to (fly). Diego: Are you in hospital?”