Argentine football great Diego Maradona has died, aged 60.
The legendary forward suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Tigre on Wednesday, where he was recovering from recent brain surgery.
Emergency paramedics were called to his home where he received treatment, but the football icon was unable to be resuscitated and confirmation soon came of his death, the Associated Press reported.
Three days of national mourning have been declared in Argentina following his death, by Argentinian president Alberto Fernandez, who said: “You took us to the top of the world. You made us immensely happy. You were the greatest of them all.
“Thank you for having existed, Diego. We’re going to miss you all our lives.”
Maradona was admitted to hospital on 2 November and underwent a procedure to remove a blood clot from his brain the following day, though he was released to continue his recovery at home on 12 November.
Doctors confirmed that in the days following his operation, Maradona required treatment for alcohol dependency, having been diagnosed with abstinence side-effects. He had suffered from drug and alcohol problems previously during his career.
The Argentine Football Association posted a tribute to Maradona after news of his death was confirmed, along with the caption: “Goodbye Diego. You will be eternal in every heart of the football planet.
Maradona is regarded as one of the all-time great footballers, having captained Argentina to the 1986 World Cup triumph in one of four appearances at the global tournament between 1982 and 1994.
He was also best known for his performance against England in the 1986 quarter-final, where he scored the famous ‘Hand of God’ goal by punching the ball to loop it over the head of England goalkeeper Peter Shilton in an incident that went unnoticed by the match officials. He also scored one of the all-time great World Cup goals in the same match, dribbling past five England players before finishing.
Maradona emerged for Argentinos Juniors before securing a move to Boca Juniors in the first of two spells with the side. After just one full season with the club, he moved to Barcelona for a then-world record fee of £5m, where he helped the side to a Copa del Rey title and Spanish Supercup and was applauded off the field during El Clasico by the rival Real Madrid supporters.
After two seasons in Spain, Maradona joined Napoli where he helped the Italian side to secure two Serie A titles and the Coppa Italia, as well as the 1988/89 Uefa Cup.
After a brief spell with Sevilla, Maradone returned to Argentina with Newell’s Old Boys, before ending his career back at Boca where he retired in 1997.
But it was his international record that came to define his legacy, with 34 goals in 91 appearances for his country including the famous 1986 World Cup win. He led Argentina again at Italia 1990, where they narrowly failed to hold on to their status as world champions in a 1-0 final defeat by West Germany, though despite captaining the side for a third consecutive World Cup in 1994 he was sent home from the United States after failing a drugs test for ephedrine.
His death sparked immediate tributes and messages of condolence from the football world, with former England captain Gary Lineker among those who posted immediately on social media following the news.
“Reports from Argentina that Diego Armando Maradona has died,” said Lineker, who faced Maradona in the famous 1986 World Cup quarter-final. “By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time. After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God. #RipDiego”.
Mon idole est décédée,
RIP Diego Armando Maradona, my first ever football shirt, the man behind my love for football
Gracias El Pibe 💔
🇦🇷 🇦🇷 🇦🇷 🇦🇷 🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/Xns3Z72pxt
— Didier Drogba (@didierdrogba) November 25, 2020
Farewell, Diego. A legend of our game. pic.twitter.com/iIXGLEf7B1
— England (@England) November 25, 2020
Maradona has long been regarded as one of the greatest alongside Brazilian footballer Pele, who wrote on Twitter: “What sad news. I lost a great friend and the world lost a legend. There is still much to be said, but for now, may God give strength to family members. One day, I hope we can play ball together in the sky.”
Compatriot Osvaldo Ardiles, who joined Maradona in the 1982 World Cup squad, said: “Thank dear Dieguito for your friendship, for your football, sublime, without comparison. Simply, the best football player in the history of football. So many enjoyable moments together. Impossible to say which one was the best. RIP my dear friend.”
Asif Kapadia, who directed the 2019 documentary film self-titled after the Argentine great, said: “Can’t quite believe DM has gone. Hard to process. He always seemed indestructible. I had 10 hours with the man!! I touched his left foot. We did our best to show the world the man, the myth, the fighter he was. The greatest #legend.”
Following his retirement, Maradona turned to management and landed the national team job 13 years after two short-term roles with clubs in Argentina, leading the country to the 2010 World Cup where they were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Germany that resulted in his departure. Since then Maradona has taken up several roles around the world, having managed Al-Wasl in Dubai, Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates and Dorados in Mexico, before his most recent spell in charge of Club de Gimnasia back in his homeland where he remained manager up to the time of his death.