Thousands of fans campaign for Maradona to play in soccer World Cup

Thousands of soccer fans have joined a campaign to get former Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona to play at least five minutes in each Argentina game in the 2006 World Cup, local media reported on Friday.

Raul Champredonde, 37, a computer technician, told media 7,800 fans have signed the petition at his website The title means "number 10 for 2006": referring to the shirt Maradona wore when he played.

"There is no doubt that Maradona was the best player in history. But because of his life story, for his recovery from so many things and for the excitement he still makes us feel, we love him much more than that," the site says.

Chamredonde said the petition has been signed by people from all Argentina, as well as 30 countries, including Spain, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Cuba.

Before he hung up his boots in 1997, Maradona was Argentina captain, helping the team win the World Cup twice: with the under-20 team in 1979 and in 1986 in Mexico.

The president of the Argentina Football Association, Julio Grondona, recently asked him to join the training team for the national squad.

"The idea of proposing a homage to Diego in the World Cup came to me while watching La Noche del 10," Chamredonde said. Maradona presented that Argentine television program this year, after quitting his career-destroying addictions.

"Seeing him so well, lucid, tranquil and calm, with a will to live, I began to dream of how exciting it would be to see him once more on the football field in the Argentina shirt, even though I am well aware he is not of an age to compete in another World Cup, " said Chamredonde.

Source: Xinhua