Saturday 1/23/21
FOOTBALL

Football legend Maradona dies at 60

The forward, who led Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986, underwent surgery for a bleed on the brain earlier this month. Doctors had said it was a success.
 
Maradona in action during the 1986 FIFA World Cup in a soccer match between Argentina and Bulgaria. Photo: dpa.
Maradona in action during the 1986 FIFA World Cup in a soccer match between Argentina and Bulgaria. Photo: dpa.

Argentina football great Diego Maradona has died at the age of 60, the Argentinian Football Association said on Wednesday.

The forward, who led Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986, underwent surgery for a bleed on the brain earlier this month. Doctors had said it was a success. Media reports said he suffered a heart attack on Wednesday and could not be revived.

He is widely regarded by football fans as one of the greatest players to ever play the game. The Argentinian government has declared three days of national mourning.

"The Argentinian Football Association, through its president Claudio Tapia, expresses its deepest sorrow for the death of our legend, Diego Armando Maradona," it said in a statement.

"You will always be in our hearts."

Maradona also coached Argentina from 2008-2010. His playing career included success at Spain's Barcelona and Napoli in Italy.

"Forever. Ciao Diego," Napoli wrote on Twitter.

Barcelona tweeted: "Thank you for everything, Diego."

The Argentina team at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico was good, but Maradona made it great. He almost single-handedly inspired their second World Cup triumph.

FILED - 29 June 1986, Mexico, Mexico City: Argentina's Diego Maradona holds up the World Cup trophy after his team's victory over West Germany in the 1986 FIFA World Cup Final. Argentina football great Diego Maradona has died at the age of 60, the Argentinian Football Association said on Photo: dpa.

Maradona holds up the World Cup trophy after his team's victory over West Germany in the 1986 FIFA World Cup Final. Photo: dpa.

'Hand of God'

Although England fans will remember his "Hand of God" handball goal in the quarter-finals, his second goal that day is remembered as one of the greatest ever as he ran through almost the whole England team at will before scoring.

"Unforgettable. Farewell, Diego. A legend of our game," the English Football Association tweeted.

In club football, his spell at Napoli led to Italian domestic titles in 1987 and 1990 - still the only top-flight championships the big Naples club have ever won.

Naples Mayor Luigi de Magistris tweeted: "Diego made our people dream, he redeemed Naples with his genius. In 2017 he became our honorary citizen. Diego, Neapolitan and Argentinian, you gave us joy and happiness! Naples loves you!"

FILED - 19 November 2008, Scotland, Glasgow: Diego Maradona, then Argentina national head coach looks on during the friendly soccer match between Scotland and Argentina at Hampden Park.

Maradona, then Argentina national head coach looks on during a friendly soccer match between Scotland and Argentina at Hampden Park. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire/dpa.

Prime Minister paid tribute

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also paid tribute.

"The entire world is mourning for the loss of #Maradona, who wrote unforgettable pages in the history of football with his unparalleled talent. Farewell eternal champion," Conte tweeted.

Il Mattino, Naples' local newspaper, wrote on its homepage: "Maradona has died, goodbye to the king of Naples."

More than 70,000 fans welcomed him at the San Paolo stadium upon his arrival at Napoli. He was worshipped like a saint. Once a nurse is said to have stolen a sample of his blood and taken it to a church.

But Maradona also had personal problems. He was kicked out of the 1994 World Cup after a positive drug test. His battle with cocaine was well known, as was his weight gain as he grew older.

03 November 2020, Argentina, Buenos Aires: Fans of Argentine football legend Diego Maradona hold up a t-shirt with bearing his picture in front of the clinic where Maradona underwent a surgery for a bleed on the brain. Photo: Ramiro Gomez/telam/dpa

Fans hold up a t-shirt with Maradona's picture in front of the clinic where he underwent a surgery for a bleed on the brain. Photo: Ramiro Gomez/dpa.

He was admitted to hospital in La Plata, Argentina, earlier this month suffering from anaemia and mild dehydration. A bleed in the brain was then discovered. He was released from hospital only to die a few days later.

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