ST. PETERSBURG – Argentinean legend Diego Maradona may face a World Cup ban after he publicly gave a two-fingered salute as Argentina scored a dramatic late winner against Nigeria on Tuesday.
The 57-year-old was seen by millions of TV viewers worldwide wildly celebrating after Manchester United’s Marcos Rojo volleyed home in the 86th minute to put the South Americans into the last 16.
The ex-Argentinian captain and manager had already been slammed for making a racist gesture to South Korean fans.
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Soon after the match finished, Maradona collapsed into a chair inside the St Petersburg Stadium. He was immediately rushed to a local hospital.
The former superstar, who won the World Cup with Argentina in 1986, was sent home in disgrace in 1994 after failing a drugs test.
He appeared to have fallen asleep at one stage.
Maradona had earlier been filmed manically celebrating Marcos Rojo’s late winning goal and swearing at supporters.
After Lionel Messi put Argentina 1-0 up with a wonder goal Maradona seemed to be praying to the heavens.
He also unveiled a banner of himself from his seat high in the stands.
Maradona is widely regarded as one of the best players ever to grace the game, famous for driving Argentina to glory during 1986 in Mexico, helped by his ‘Hand of God’ goal against England.
Former England star and BBC pundit Rio Ferdinand said he was disappointed by Maradona’s reaction. “His career as a football player on the pitch was up there with the best,” he added.
“Unfortunately there are moments like this that do arise it’s not nice to see that let him down.”
BBC presenter Gary Linker branded Maradona a “laughing stock”.
“There’s Diego Maradona celebrating,” said Lineker. “I think he might make the papers for a different kind of celebration, there’s a danger he’s becoming a laughing stock I’m afraid.
Maradona is widely regarded as one of the best players ever to grace the game, famous for driving Argentina to glory at Mexico 86, helped by his ‘Hand of God’ goal against England.
He played at four World Cups in all.