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Conflicting Reports Surround Diego Maradona Reportedly Coming out of Retirement

Argentine's former soccer Diego Armando Maradona watches as he attends the Italian TV state program 'Che tempo che fa', in Milan, Italy, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013. Italy's tax collection agency says it has formally notified Diego Maradona that it will begin procedures to freeze his assets in Italy to pay off his tax debt of $53 million. Equitalia confirmed news reports Friday saying its agents had served Maradona with the notification in his Milan hotel room, and that he signed the documentation. The Argentine great is in Italy to promote a video series on his life and watched his former club Napoli play Roma on Friday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Luca Bruno/Associated Press
Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2014

Diego Maradona will resume his playing career with Argentine side Deportivo Riestra, according to reports.

The tiny team, who currently play in the country's fifth tier, are set to welcome the World Cup winner and former national team manager onto the pitch, as reported by Ed Malyon of the Mirror:

"Within five gameweeks, Maradona will be playing for Riestra," said club insiders. "He will debut on approximately the 23rd of March."

Selecao Brasileira reports the previous news isn't true:

Maradona last played competitively for Boca Juniors in 1998, but he appears ready to dust off his boots nearly 16 years after hanging them up. As noted in Malyon's report, he was quoted as saying "I want to play," when asked about his potential return from retirement.

The legendary player has history with Riestra after completing a spell as the team's "Spiritual Coach" during 2013. Maradona has appeared in good health recently after dramatically slimming down, per James Boylan of the Metro, exchanging his previously overweight figure for a muscular frame.

He seemed jovial during a recent trip to Dubai, which saw him meet the Manchester United squad on their warm-weather training camp. Juan Mata, the club's £37.1 million signing, posted a relaxed photo on Twitter:

It's been an extremely busy start to the year for Maradona, who recently confirmed his engagement to 23-year-old ex-women's footballer Rocio Oliva, reported by Gerard Couzens of the Mirror. This Valentine's Day announcement coincided with Veronica Ojeda—Maradona's former girlfriend—claiming he is the father of her unborn child.

DANIEL LUNA/Associated Press

Whether or not his return to playing is a publicity stunt for one of Argentina's smaller clubs remains to be seen. Even at the age of 53, Maradona's arrival is sure to drum up plenty of interest from across the globe.

The godlike player has his own religion in Argentina, highlighting his immortal status among the country that hasn't lifted the World Cup since Maradona inspired them to victory in 1986. Perhaps, with the 2014 tournament on the horizon, we will see the returning star join Lionel Messi and friends in the squad travelling to Brazil. Perhaps.

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