Maradona calls on troubled Ortega

BUENOS AIRES: Argentina coach Diego Maradona announced today the return to his squad of midfield veteran Ariel Ortega for an upcoming friendly against New Zealand in Cordoba.

Argentina’s squad for the September 30 encounter will be composed entirely of national league players, including Ortega, who has famously played in three World Cup campaigns but gained as much notoriety for his battle with alcoholism.

Maradona’s decision comes as the 35-year-old Ortega, who plays for River Plate, continues his long fight to leave his personal problems behind him.

Throughout his impressive career Maradona also gained notoriety, for cocaine use and a turbulent lifestyle which saw him balloon in weight and go on to suffer serious health problems.

The Argentine football legend said it is during such challenging times that remembering the importance of family is essential. “He (Ortega) should think more about his kids.,” said Maradona. “If he does this then I’m sure he can get out of this situation.”

Ortega, who played alongside Maradona in the 1994 FIFA World Cup and played in the next two editions in 1998 and 2002, began his club career at Newell’s Old Boys before moving to Europe for spells with Valencia in Spain, Sampdoria and Parma in Italy and Turkish giants Fenerbahce.