RobertoDi Girolamo's Filmexport has taken worldwide rights to Marco Risi's upcoming$18m biopic, Maradona, which starts shooting next month.

Thelong-gestating picture traces the life of the 44-year-old football icon, wholed Argentina's win in the 1986 World Cup but almost died of cocaine overdosesin 2000 and 2004. Rights to the script, including funds paid to Diego ArmandoMaradona himself, cost $5m.

Italiandirector Marco Risi, whose credits include acclaimed social dramas Mary Forever(Mery Per Sempre) and Boys on the Outside (Ragazzi Fuori) will start shootingin Buenos Aires on June 27.

TheSpanish-language film will begin with Maradona's early days in Buenos Aires andfollow his dizzying rise to fame - and his descent into drugs hell.

The16 week-shoot will include eight weeks in Argentina, followed by two weeks inCuba, two weeks in Barcelona and four in Naples.

Spain'sOmbu Producciones and Globomedia are producing together with Pino Gargiulo andMaurizio Tedesco for Italy's Comedy Film.

Maradonawill be played by three different actors, as yet uncast, spanning his teenageyears to adulthood.