Diego Maradona was buried without his heart to prevent his tomb being defiled by rival fans of his Boca Juniors club intent on stealing the vital organ, a leading Argentinian journalist has claimed.
Nelson Castro made the startling assertion during a TV interview in his South American homeland to promote his book, Diego’s Health. The football idol died aged 60 in November 2020 from complications following emergency brain surgery after a life plagued by cocaine addiction and excess.
The TV anchor, who practised as a doctor for 10 years before taking up journalism, said that details of the alleged plot by so-called ultra fans of Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata, a club in Buenos Aires province long overshadowed by Boca Juniors, had become known just before Maradona’s funeral.
“It never came to pass because it was an act of such enormous daring, but it was detected that it was going to, so they extracted his heart, also for research,” the doctor said.
He added that the organ weighed 500g when an average adult heart would typically weigh just 300g. “It was so big not just because he was a sportsman, but also because of his cardiac insufficiency and pathology,” Castro, 66, said
Maradona, who was 5ft 5in but stoutly built, had been diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a form of heart disease. His autopsy also found that he had liver and kidney problems, thought to be the result of his frequently wild lifestyle.
The original source for Dr Castro’s shocking claim was unclear. Nevertheless, it was being taken sufficiently seriously in Argentina to cause a media storm, including being covered in Clarín, one of the country’s most-respected newspapers.
One question he did not address was the fact that Maradona, who almost single-handedly led Argentina to win the 1986 World Cup, is so idolised in his homeland that the adoration largely overshadows the sectarian divides at club level.
It is also the second startling posthumous claim about Maradona this month. A Cuban woman, Mavys Álvarez, claimed that she had been trafficked at the age of 16 by the superstar, then in his 40s, during one of his stays on the Caribbean island, where he was friends with the dictator Fidel Castro. She is now suing his estate and several members of his entourage.
During the pair’s sexual relationship, she testified in Buenos Aires last week, he had even pressured her into having breast implants without her parents’ consent, despite the fact that she was still a minor.