Greatest and notorious Diego Maradona dies at 60
Greatest and notorious Diego Maradona dies at 60
File Image

Buenos Aires: Football legend Diego Maradona, whose 'Hand of God' goal shattered England's 1986 World Cup dreams, died of a heart attack just two weeks after being released from hospital for a blood clot in his brain.

He had turned 60 at the end of October.

Stuff of folklore and widely rated as one of the greatest footballers of all time, his life off the pitch included skirmishes with cocaine and alcohol addiction. In 1994 he was thrown out of the World Cup in America after failing a drugs test, before retiring from football in 1997. In 1999 and 2000 he was taken to hospital with heart problems, the second time he was put on a respirator.

In a way, he spent as much time in hospital as on the ground: He had to undergo two gastric bypass operations to control his weight and received treatment for alcohol abuse. Later, he was operated upon to stem bleeding in his stomach; a knee operation he underwent was one of minor troubles.

When the iconic former Argentinian footballer was driven away from a private clinic on November 11, hundreds of fans and photographers tried to catch a glimpse of him. Argentinian TV reporters travelling on motorbikes filmed the ambulance carrying him leaving before stalking the vehicle to transmit every inch of his journey.

In fact, his lawyer had said the 1986 FIFA World Cup winner was feeling well after overcoming "maybe the toughest time of his life".

Born in a slum area in the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires on October 30, 1960, Maradona made his senior debut for Buenos Aires-based Argentinos Juniors in 1976. He went on to a play for Argentine giants Boca Juniors in the 1981-82 season. He then shifted to Europe where he spent two tumultuous seasons with Spanish giants Barcelona. His tenure with the Catalan club ended with a nasty brawl that triggered crowd trouble in the 1984 Copa del Rey final.

Maradona then went to Italian club Napoli, where he had arguably the most productive period of his career. He won two Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia and one UEFA Cup in his seven seasons with the club, leaving as their all-time highest goal scorer, a record that stood until Marek Hamsik overtook his tally in 2017.

President Alberto Fernandez immediately announced three days of national mourning in the South American country. The Argentina national team paid tribute to him, saying: “You will #Eterno in every heart of the soccer planet”. Barcelona, where he enjoyed two seasons between 1982 and 1984, tweeted: 'Thank you for everything, Diego'.

Another football legend, the great Brazilian Pele, wrote: '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.'

Cristiano Ronaldo posted an old picture of himself with Maradona on his Instagram account and wrote: 'Today I say goodbye to a friend and the world says goodbye to an eternal genius. One of the best ever. An unparalleled magician. He leaves too soon, but leaves a legacy without limits and a void that will never be filled. Rest in peace, ace. You will never be forgotten.'

Argentina’s La Nacion newspaper reported that he died at lunchtime at his home in San Andrés. The paper reports that he suffered a cardiac arrest and that nine ambulances attended the scene but that he could not be resuscitated.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal