DIEGO Maradona was “unmanageable” and should have been sent to rehab after a recent brain operation, the football star’s personal doctor has said.
In an emotional statement, Leopoldo Luque said he was “shocked” that he was being probed over alleged negligence amid reports the footballer’s death is being treated as manslaughter.
Dr Luque has pleaded his innocence insisting he did everything he could for Maradona in the days before his deathCredit: AP:Associated Press
Diego Maradona is seen shaking hands with his Leopoldo Luque after undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot from his brainCredit: AFP or licensors
In a bold attempt to show he has nothing to hide, Dr Luque drove to the prosecutor’s office in Buenos Aires on Monday to volunteer for questioning a day after his home and office were searched.
World Cup winner Maradona, 60, an icon in Argentina, died of heart failure at his home in the capital on Wednesday after a period of ill health.
Yet, two of the star’s daughters Dalma and Giannina have told police they suspected the medication their father was given was not appropriate.
On Sunday, following the 40-minute search on his home, Dr Luque, a neurosurgeon, said he did “everything he could, up to the impossible” and considered himself a “friend” of Maradona.
He also revealed Maradona was battling addiction problems when he died.
During an emotional news conference, the doctor said the footballer had issues with pills and booze, adding: “He punished himself in a way I wasn’t going to allow, not as a doctor but as a friend.”
Between sobs, the 39-year-old said: “You want to know what I am responsible for? For having loved him, for having taken care of him, for having extended his life, for having improved it to the end.”
He said Maradona was his own worst enemy when it came to accepting help from professionals for his addiction problems.
Describing the former Napoli and Barcelona star as “difficult”, Dr Luque said: “You couldn’t do anything if Diego didn’t want it.
“He hated doctors and psychologists. With me it was different because I was honest with him. He was my friend.”
Dr Luque said Maradona – who had a brain operation earlier this month to remove a blood clot – looked “very down” in the days leading up to his death and should have gone to rehab following the op.
“He should have gone to a rehabilitation centre. He didn’t want to,” he said, describing Maradona as “unmanageable”.
“I am the person who has been taking care of him. I’m proud of everything I’ve done. I have nothing to hide. I am at the disposal of justice,” he added.
The football legend died of heart failure on Wednesday at his home in Buenos AiresCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Leopoldo Luque spoke out after his home was searched by policeCredit: EPA
Luque and his wife Romina before a press conference at his home in Adrogue in Greater Buenos AiresCredit: EPA
Police officers leave the doctor’s office with a computer and some documents following a raid todayCredit: EPA
Dr Luque said he has been made a “scapegoat” for the footballer’s death.
With tears rolling down his face, he said: “I was shocked when police turned up at my door. I’m going to co-operate fully.
“I know what I did and what I did was for Diego’s benefit until the last moment. I did the best I could.
“I feel terrible because a friend died.
“I don’t blame myself for anything. It’s very unfair what’s happening.”
Hitting out at the police probe, he said: “Someone is trying to find a scapegoat here when I don’t see one anywhere.
“We all did the best we could with Diego.”
I know what I did and what I did was for Diego’s benefit until the last moment. I did the best I could.”
The distraught medic said he “didn’t see Diego’s daughters a lot” while insisting his “siblings and nephews adore me”.
Maradona’s lawyer Matias Morla voiced his support for Dr Luque on Monday.
He tweeted: “I understand and comprehend the work of the prosecutors but only I know, Dr Luque, what you did for Diego’s health, how you cared for him, accompanied him and how you loved him.
“Diego loved you and as his friend I am not going to leave you alone.
“You left blood, sweat and tears and the truth always wins.”
Maradona led Argentina to consecutive World Cup finals in 1986 and 1990, winning the first, in a glittering career marked with controversy including drug addiction and involvement with the Italian mafia.
He was also kicked out of the 1994 World Cup for taking performance-enhancing drugs.
Maradona’s daughters have expressed concern over the medication their father was given in the days before his deathCredit: AFP or licensors
The searches of Luque’s property began this morning – four days after the 60-year-old died.
Prosecutors behind the order, said to have been sanctioned by a judge, are understood to be trying to establish whether the football legend was the victim of medical negligence.
The dramatic twist in the death probe followed overnight reports Diego had rowed with Luque in the days before he suffered heart failure.
Local TV stations broadcast images of police entering Luque’s clinic.
Argentinian media are reporting Luque could be questioned as an ‘imputado’, someone who is under official investigation on suspicion of possible mala praxis or negligence, rather than as a simple witness.
There is no suggestion he will be charged with any crime at this stage.
Morla’s support for Dr Luque comes after he demanded a top-level probe into the emergency response to the retired footballer’s death last week.
Morla said the first ambulance took more than half an hour to reach the star’s rented house north of Buenos Aires. He called the delay a “criminal idiocy”.
Morla also complained Maradona had not received any medical checks in the 12 hours before he died, appearing to heap more pressure on Luque.
Maradona won the 1986 World Cup and led Argentina to another final four years laterCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Maradona’s lawyer Matias Morla has demanded a top-level probe into the emergency response to his deathCredit: Getty Images – Getty
The legendary Argentine footballer was pictured with Luque after undergoing brain surgery – just two weeks before he suffered his fatal cardiac arrest.
Yesterday, it emerged Maradona’s nurse had admitted she lied about an early-morning check-up on him.
The sensational confession added more mystery to the circumstances surrounding his untimely death.
Initial reports pointed to a 24-year-old nephew, who was living with him, being the last person to see him alive over breakfast the day he died.
He was said to have told his relative: “I’m not feeling well” before going back to bed and dying in his sleep before investigators were told he had never got up on Wednesday to eat anything.
Tributes poured in from around the world following the death of the legendary Argentine footballer.
Maradona played for Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell’s Old Boys during his illustrious career.
He scored 34 goals in 91 appearances for Argentina before he retired from professional football in 1997.
Maradona had an illustrious career peppered with controversy including drug addictionCredit: Getty Images – Getty
The coffin of the Argentine football star at Casa Rosada, Buenos AiresCredit: AP:Associated Press
A man holds a shirt as fans wait to enter the Government House to pay tribute to late footy legendCredit: AFP or licensors
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