BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Diego Maradona suffered an unexpected interruption to his World Cup preparations on Tuesday when he was bitten in the face by one of his pet dogs.
Plastic surgeons repaired his upper lip after the Argentina coach was admitted to the Los Arcos clinic in Buenos Aires with bloody wounds caused by a Chinese Shar-Pei called Bela.
Maradona needed 10 stitches in his lip and will have to rest for three days, a medical source at the clinic said.
He was driven away after around 15 hours at the clinic by his brother Lalo, returning to his mansion in a plush neighborhood on the outskirts of the capital and close to the national team’s training facility.
Maradona did not speak to reporters but Fernando Molina, boyfriend of his elder daughter Dalma and his personal press officer, told Reuters: “He’s already at home and he’s in good spirits.”
Maradona, who as a player captained Argentina to their second World Cup title in 1986, was hospitalized in the same clinic in 2007 with toxic hepatitis from drinking.
His Argentina team, despite struggling to qualify, are among the favorites to win the World Cup in South Africa that starts on June 11.
Maradona is worshipped in Argentina despite years of scandal involving drug addiction, overeating and alcoholism and is no stranger to hospitals and clinics.
The 49-year-old retired from professional soccer in 1997 and almost died from cocaine-induced heart problems in 2000.
In 2008, despite concerns over his continued substance abuse, explosive conduct and lack of coaching experience, he talked his way into the national job after predecessor Alfio Basile resigned halfway through the qualifiers.
Argentina needed a victory away to Uruguay in Montevideo in their last qualifier in October to secure their place in South Africa and avoid missing the finals for the first time since 1970.
Maradona’s team, who are in Group B with Nigeria, Greece and South Korea, will arrive at their Pretoria base at the end of May after a warm-up against Canada in Buenos Aires on May 24 and possibly another in Dubai against a local side, team sources said.
Editing by Ed Osmond
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