Cuban former leader Fidel Castro addressed a letter Tuesday to Argentina's former star footballer Diego Armando Maradona, in which he praised his World Cup commentary, sports as an essential part of education, and current football great Lionel Messi.
In the letter, published by official daily Granma and other Cuban media, Castro begins by telling Maradona, "Every day I have the pleasure of following your program on the spectacular World Cup of football on Telesur: thanks to your program, I can observe the extraordinary level of this universal sport."
Maradona, 53, is the conductor of a program called "Lefty," which broadcasts the latest events of the 2014 Brazil World Cup from Rio de Janeiro for Venezuela-based TV network Telesur.
"I don't believe a proper education without sports is possible for the youth of any country," writes Castro, adding that as a child, adolescent and youth he played sports, especially football.
Castro explains his admiration for Maradona, saying the legendary football player "has overcome the most difficult trials as an athlete and as a young man of humble origins."
Castro also praises Messi as a "formidable athlete that brings glory to the noble people of Argentina."
Castro congratulates Telesur for its coverage of the World Cup and concludes by saying, "of course, Diego, I will never forget the friendship and support you always offered (the late Venezuelan president) Hugo Chavez, promoter of sports and Revolution in Latin America and oppressed people around the world."
In 2011 Maradona said of Castro, "he is the only person I respect, as a politician, because he risked his life. He is the father of all the revolutions launched by people who want to improve their lot."