Buenos Aires: A clean-shaven, suit-wearing Diego Maradona vowed to get fit and stay healthy on Monday night, in his first public appearance since he was hospitalised for alcohol-induced hepatitis.
The Argentine football hero, who has struggled as well with drug abuse and obesity, also vowed to find out who spread the rumour that he had died while he was in treatment - a rumour which the media scrambled to confirm.
In a live televised interview on Argentina's Channel 13, Maradona said he heard the government might have started the rumour as a distraction tactic and said he would even confront President Nestor Kirchner, if he had been involved.
"I'm sad because they didn't show any respect for my parents or my daughters. I don't know why they want to see me dead," Maradona said.
"I'm alive and I want to keep living."
One of the most brilliant football players ever, Maradona led Argentina to its 1986 World Cup victory and is revered in his own country and around the world.
Maradona admitted that excessive drinking may have harmed his health, but he said a previous bout of hepatitis in the early 1980s compounded the problem.
Speaking more slowly than usual, Maradona said he was still taking medication but he did not say what kind.
He was alert enough to crack jokes, however, and spoke emotionally about his family.
On Sunday, Maradona left the psychiatric clinic where he was treated for two weeks after being hospitalised.
His girlfriend was allowed to stay in the clinic with him.
His personal doctor said Maradona will continue going to the clinic three times a week for follow-up treatment.
"I want to rest. I want to get in good physical shape," Maradona said.
"I've always punished my body. As I've said before: what a player I'd have been if I hadn't done cocaine," he said, chuckling.
Maradona, 46, said he has been off drugs for two-and-a-half years and off alcohol since he fell ill in March.
His dream is to be coach of the Argentine national team, and he said it hurt him to not even be considered when the post became available last year.
But in the meantime, Maradona said he'll try to get back to playing mini-matches as part of a televised tournament known as Showbol.