BOGOTA: Diego Maradona insisted that his visit to the Caribbean city of Cartagena was for nothing more than a holiday and asked to be left in peace on Wednesday.
Maradona, who spoke to reporters for the first time since he arrived a week ago, gave a 10-minute interview in front of the apartment block where he is staying.
He allowed himself to be photographed with some European tourists and his presence in the street caused a traffic jam in the chic neighbourhood.
Ive just come to say hello and respect your work, said the 44-year-old former Argentina captain, who has ballooned in weight and is scarcely recognisable from his playing days.
Cartagena has treated me phenomenally, Im unwinding.
He added: Im very well and Im grateful to Colombia for the affection Ive been shown. I hope you respect me as well.
Maradona arrived in the city last Wednesday amid rumours he was to have liposuction but doctors denied he would have surgery on Tuesday.
Hes here in Cartagena on holiday, for a rest. Hes been here a couple of times to check his arterial pressure, the director of the Medigel Clinic Francisco Holguin said. The possibility of operation has not been considered.
Maradona spent more than a week in the intensive care unit of a Buenos Aires hospital last April with heart and breathing problems. He was then confined to a psychiatric clinic by his family.
In September, Maradona returned to Cuba, where he has lived since 2000, to undergo more treatment for drug addition but under a stricter regime than before.
At Christmas, Maradona defied his doctors advice and returned to Argentina for one month. Last month, he also went to Greece on a business trip. Reuters