Diego Maradona, one of the greatest players in soccer history who almost singlehandedly led his native Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title, has died after suffering a heart attack, the country’s football federation said on Wednesday. He was 60.
Maradona had long battled heath problems since his playing days ended. Earlier his month, he underwent brain surgery in Buenos Aires and was only discharged from the hospital two weeks ago. Word of his passing spread quickly on Wednesday morning, with several local and international outlets reporting his passing.
The AFA released its statement on Twitter a short time later.
— Selección Argentina 🇦🇷 (@Argentina) November 25, 2020
Napoli, for whom Maradona starred from 1984-1991 and scored 115 goals in 259 appearances, tweeted out a tribute of their own:
Per Sempre 💙
Ciao Diego pic.twitter.com/LzppqlBqLV
— Official SSC Napoli (@sscnapoli) November 25, 2020
So did Barcelona, where Maradona first moved to Europe from Boca Juniors in Argentina in 1982:
Thank you for everything, Diego pic.twitter.com/bJ9l3ixY7A
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 25, 2020
Maradona was seen as God-like figure in Argentina after winning the World Cup. Right up until his death, he was revered in the country more than Lionel Messi, who is now considered by most as the greatest player ever.
Maradona coached Messi when he led Argentina’s national team between 2008 and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where the Albiceleste exited at the quarterfinal stage. Messi posted a tribute to his former manager and fellow No. 10 on Instagram.
“A very sad day for all Argentines and for football,” Messi wrote in Spanish. “He leaves us but does not leave, because Diego is eternal. I keep all the beautiful moments lived with him and I wanted to take the opportunity to send my condolences to all his family and friends. RIP”
Maradona nearly led Argentina to its third world title in 1990, but Argentina lost the final to West Germany. His international career came to a sad end at the 1994 World Cup, which he was sent home from after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Despite his off-field issues, Maradona spent the last dozen years of his life as a full-time manager. After leading his country at South Africa 2010, he coached clubs in the United Arab Emirates and in Mexico. At the time of his death, he was in his second season at the helm of Argentine Primera Division side Gimnasia de La Plata.
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