The Spanish, Argentinean and Italian co-producers of a Euros 6m-plus feature film about the life of Argentinean football hero Diego Maradona have unveiled new details of the project days after the star was hospitalised in Buenos Aires for a heart problem and lung infection.

The film starts with the heart problems Maradona suffered in 2000, an event which inspires him to reflect back on his childhood and adolescence.

Three actors will play Maradona at different stages of his life. Casting is underway for a high-profile Spanish or Latino actor to take the lead and could be announced as early as next week.

The co-producers - OMBU (the Spanish-Argentinean group formed by Globomedia, Telefonica Contenidos and Polka), Barcelona-based ICC and Italy's Sorpasso - foresee shooting to begin on the biopic before year-end for newly-attached director Marco Risi.

The project has been in the works since 2000 when OMBU acquired the rights to Maradona's life story through 2009. Maradona himself sat for more than ten hours of interviews with the film's writers, Manuel Valdivia, Manuel Rios and Cesar Vidal. Argentina's Leonardo Bechini also collaborated on the script.

Maradona's condition was said to be improving but still critical on Wednesday. Dozens of fans stood vigil outside the clinic where he remains in intensive care.