World Cup: Diego Maradona leaves pitch hand-in-hand with nurse before failing drugs test

This is the amazing moment Argentina icon Diego Maradona left the pitch hand-in-hand with a nurse before failing a drugs test at the 1994 World Cup.

Smiling, waving to the crowd, the genius plagued by drugs problems does not seem to recognise the enormity of the moment that would leave him with a "broken soul".

Argentina were riding high, after all.

Eight years earlier, Maradona had single-handedly led his country to glory.

Four years later there was heartbreak in the final when they lost to West Germany.

Sandwiched between that final at the Stadio Olimpico and the shocking scenes in Boston was a 15-month ban for cocaine use.



But again a nation's hopes rested on his shoulders.

Argentina beat Greece and Maradona played a part in both goals his country scored in the Group D win over Nigeria.

Claudio Caniggia – who has returned just a month before following a year-long cocaine ban – scored a double in the 2-1 victory.

But that was to be the end for Argentina and its most famous son.


After the final whistle a nurse walked onto the pitch, took the Maradona's left hand, and slowly led him off.

He looked at ease, wearing a huge grin.

The test, though, proved positive for a cocktail of five substances which worked to suppress appetite and boost endurance.

Specifically, it was ephedrine.

Maradona had been plagued by a cold in the build-up to his final World Cup game.

He sought the help of 'The Prof' – Fernando Signorini, his long-time trainer – to get him back to full fitness.

Signorini had teamed up with Daniel Cerrini – a bodybuilder who had been involved in a doping scandal in 1989 – to get a plump Maradona in shape ahead of the US showpiece.

A mix of drugs helped the 33-year-old play the full 90 minutes in searing heat.

Five days later his downfall was complete.

Described as "the saddest day in Argentina", Maradona said at the time: "They have retired me from soccer. I don't think I want another revenge. My soul is broken."

At a press conference he added: "I killed myself in training and now they do this to me!"

Ever one to spot an opportunity, though, Maradona did not return to his homeland looking for forgiveness.

He stayed in America and picked up around £900,000 as a pundit for Channel 13.

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