Diego Maradona dies aged 60: Latest tributes to one of football’s greatest players

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Daniel Zeqiri
·14 min read
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Diego Maradona, one of football's greatest-ever players, has died aged 60.

The 1986 World Cup winner had surgery to remove a blood clot on the brain earlier this month. The Argentine Football Association confirmed he had died this afternoon.

"The Argentine Football Association, through its president Claudio Tapia, expresses its deepest sorrow for the death of our legend, Diego Armando Maradona. You will always be in our hearts," they said.

Another of football's greats, Pele, has led the tributes to: "Certainly, one day we'll kick a ball together in the sky above." Follow latest updates and reaction here.

07:17 PM

How Maradona is celebrated in his own country

In Argentina, he has long been worshipped as 'El Dios' - The God. At Buenos Aires metro stations, digital billboards replaced messages about trains with the words: "Gracias Diego".

In the Buenos Aires suburb of Villa Crespo, the song "La Mano de Dios" by folk singer Rodrigo Bueno rang out from a balcony, a reference to a goal Maradona scored with his hand against England in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

While that goal - and his description of it as divine intervention - was Maradona's most controversial, his second in that game, where he ran through the England team to score a stunning solo goal, showcased his extraordinary dribbling and control that many view as unmatche

07:00 PM

More from Peter Reid

Diego Maradona was strong - everyone goes on about his technical ability, which was unquestionably magnificent, but his physicality and strength were extraordinary.Maybe the only thing he didn't have was a right peg but when your left was as good as that, it didn't really matter. With the 'Hand of God' goal, I remember the explosion of the crowd when it went in, and then a few of us - Terry Fenwick, Glenn Hoddle - running after the Tunisian referee.It was cute the way he did it but it was still obvious to us on the pitch: he cheated. I didn't say anything to him at the time - my Spanish wasn't great and his Scouse wasn't great - but I met him once in Dubai and, through an interpreter, did manage to ask him about it.He just laughed and reiterated that it was the Hand of God. That second goal is something I've seen once or twice. I'd like to blame the fact that we were playing in Mexico at 8,000 feet but, let's be honest, we were playing against someone who was at the height of his career. As bad as that first goal was, that second one was special. I had seen him do something similar against Scotland in 1981 when he went past the great Alan Hansen, and you just knew he had that in his locker.He had the ability to make you look foolish. He was one of the greatest footballers ever to walk the planet, and if you ask an Argentinian, he was the greatest. 

Peter Reid was speaking to Sky News

06:52 PM

The one we have been waiting for...Lionel Messi speaks

"A very sad day for all Argentines and for football. He leaves us but does not leave, because Diego is eternal.

"I keep all the beautiful moments lived with him and I send my condolences to all his family and friends. RIP."

06:49 PM

How good is that?

06:48 PM

Michael Owen joins the former players writing tributes

06:40 PM

Former president of Bolivio Evo Morales speaks

"He was a hero in his native Argentina, with whom he enjoyed World Cup glory, and became an eternal idol for the supporters of Napoli, who will never forget the successes he brought to the club during his memorable spell in Italy.

"He will go down in history as someone who set football alight and thrilled fans young and old with his brilliance and skill."

06:25 PM

Didier Drogba tweets

06:07 PM

Peter Reid remembers the 1986 World Cup quarter-final

Recalling the quarter-final match in Guadalajara, Reid said: "We opted not to man-mark him, thank God I wasn't given that job.

"Belgium tried it in the semi-final with Eric Gerets, who was a great player, and he still tore them apart.

"He was one of those players, whatever way you went about, if he was playing well on the day he was very, very difficult to stop.

"We felt a bit cheated with the first (goal) but the second was magnificent. They were dancing in the tunnel, it really went off and I think Terry Butcher steamed into them. It was quite lively afterwards to be honest."

Asked about his involvement in the second goal, Reid said: "With his balance and his strength he just went through us. It was just one of those things you can't stop.

"I get asked 'why didn't you bring him down?' and rest assured if I could have got there....I wake up in a cold sweat still thinking about it, and I still can't get there."

05:56 PM

Maradona's remarkable life in pictures

05:55 PM

England follow suit, putting the history aside

05:54 PM

Chelsea pay tribute

05:49 PM

Just a few examples of what he means to Naples

Maradona Naples - AP
Maradona Naples - AP
Maradona Naples - AP
Maradona Naples - AP
Maradona Naples - AFP
Maradona Naples - AFP

The only man whose visage adorns the walls of Naples in comparable fashion is Jesus Christ and even he might be a close second to Maradona. 

05:45 PM

One of the great solo goals

05:41 PM

Another former adversary eulogises over his talent, this time Graeme Souness

Graeme Souness, who played against Maradona during his time in Italy with Sampdoria, told Sky Sports News: "An absolute genius on the pitch, but troubled off it. He has an argument for being the greatest player ever, I personally think it is another Argentinian (Lionel Messi) but that is only down to longevity.

"He is one of the greatest players to ever kick a ball and you were in the presence of greatness when you played against him. Some of the things he could do with the ball, you were blessed to share a pitch with him, and I think anyone who played against him would say that.

"He was tiny but he was fearless. There were players around at that time who were known to be over physical but he was an absolute warrior and ridiculously brave. He'd get kicked but he would come back for more. There have only been a handful of players in history who have been blessed with his ability. He was unique."

05:40 PM

Pele on another football great

Pele, who alongside Maradona often tops polls for the accolade of greatest footballer of all time, wrote on his official Twitter account: "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."

05:35 PM

Arsenal pay tribute

 Maradona revealed the north London club tried to sign him when he was just 19 in 1982. 

05:33 PM

The FA reacts

Mark Bullingham, chief executive of the Football Association, said: "On behalf of the Football Association, our deepest condolences go to Diego Maradona's family and friends, the Argentine Football Association and the Argentinian people - as well as all the clubs he served.

"Undoubtedly one of the finest footballers to ever play the game, his remarkable achievements on the global stage will never be forgotten. It is important today that we celebrate his football genius and mourn his passing at the age of just 60."

05:30 PM

Jim White on a life and career almost Shakespearean in proportion

Read Jim on what it was like to watch Maradona live in this tribute. Here is a taster:

He did it, moreover, against the most cynical of defenders, prepared to inflict grievous bodily harm on him every time he swanked on to a pitch. But however hard they kicked him, he bounced up again and walked tall, his bravery as extraordinary as his skill. 

05:26 PM

The 'Hand of God' goal

Argentina's Diego Maradona scores 1st goal with his Hand of God -  Bob Thomas
Argentina's Diego Maradona scores 1st goal with his Hand of God - Bob Thomas

Whatever your level of outrage Maradona's deceit, it is one of sport's imperishable images and part of the rich tapestry of his career. Can you honestly say football would have been better without it?  

05:23 PM

Maradona's personal physician speaks

Dr Leopoldo Luque, Maradona's personal physician, said the former player had shown signs of improvement after a successful operation three weeks ago.

Dr Luque said Maradona "laughed" and "grabbed my hand" just a day after he had the procedure.

"Diego is without any type of neurological deficit, without any type of complication associated with surgery," Luque said, addressing reporters at the clinic's door.

"He has an excellent post-operative period, the laboratory parameters even improved.

"The first impression is it is favourable, but it is difficult to evaluate."

05:22 PM

There will be a minute's silence at tonight's Champions League games

According to reports from beIN sports. Approved by Uefa president Aleksander Čeferin.

05:18 PM

More from Nick Squires in Italy

Mara Carfagna, a former showgirl who became an MP under the tutelage of Silvio Berlusconi, said: "Maradona gave Naples great joy and the pride of feeling like one of the world capitals of football." The politician, who comes from Salerno near Naples, said Maradona was "a great champion who we will never forget."

The mayor of Parma, Federico Pizzarotti, said: "You don't have to love football to understand the importance and the genius of an iconic figure like Diego Maradona. Honour to the greatest of them all."

05:16 PM

Man Utd join the flood of tributes

05:11 PM

Napoli address the sad news

The Italian club say the death Maradona is a "devastating blow" for both the city and the club.

"We are in mourning," said club spokesman Nicola Lombardo. "We feel like a boxer who has been knocked out. We are in shock."

Maradona played for Napoli between 1984 and 1991, helping the city win its first Serie A league title.

05:11 PM

Maradona with Harry Kane and Mauricio Pochettino

05:10 PM

Our own Jamie Carragher

05:09 PM

Three days of national mourning in Argentina

Argentine President Fernandez has announced. Naples could well follow suit where Maradona was adored, with murals across the city in his honour. 

05:06 PM

One of the biggest talents in today's game speaks

05:04 PM

Ossy Ardiles remembers his team-mate

05:02 PM

Gary Lineker, who played against Maradona in 1986 World Cup, pays tribute

05:00 PM

Reaction from Italy

By Nick Squires in Rome 

There has been an outpouring of sadness and shock in Italy over the news of his death.

Maradona was "an extraordinary player, unique, an immense talent," said Fabio Capello, former England coach.

"When one talks of the history of football, one talks of Pele in one era, then Maradona in another, and now Messi.

We will remember him as one of the greatest ever players." Matteo Renzi, former prime minister, said: "No words, just sadness. Rest in peace."

Matteo Salvini, former deputy prime minister and leader of The League party, said Maradona was "A unique genius in world football.

A prayer for him." Andrea Marcucci, an MP from the ruling Democratic Party, said Maradona had "given us so much joy. His football was an art, poetry, a gift."

04:46 PM

Official confirmation from the Argentine federation

04:43 PM

A player who defined an era

 Argentine football star Diego Maradona, wearing a diamond earring - AFP
Argentine football star Diego Maradona, wearing a diamond earring - AFP

04:32 PM

Diego Maradona dead say reports

Diego Maradona has died aged 60 after a cardiac arrest according to reports in his native Argentina.

The 1986 World Cup winner, widely considered on the greatest players in the sport's history, underwent successful brain surgery on a blood clot earlier this month. 

Maradona last appeared in public on his 60th birthday last Friday before his side's league match against Patronato.

According to local media reports Maradona had been feeling poorly for some time.

He was gifted a plaque and a cake to celebrate the occasion but he did not stay to watch the game and witnesses said he looked unwell and weak.

The former Napoli, Barcelona and Boca Juniors player has suffered frequent periods in hospital over the years, often due to the extravagant lifestyle that accompanied and followed his playing career.

The former Napoli striker was also admitted to hospital in January 2019 with internal bleeding in the stomach.

He also fell ill at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where he was filmed passing out in an executive box at the Argentina-Nigeria game.

Maradona was taken into hospital in 2004 with severe heart and respiratory problems linked to cocaine use. He later underwent drug rehabilitation in Cuba and Argentina before a stomach-stapling operation in 2005 helped him lose weight.

In 2007 he checked himself into a clinic in Buenos Aires to help him overcome alcohol abuse problems.    Maradona was the subject of a feature-length film exploring his extraordinary time at Italian club Napoli, who he led to their first ever league title. The film also detailed his worrying slide into drug use and his association with organised crime gangs in the city. 

English fans will forever know him for his infamous 'Hand of God' goals in the 1986 World Cup, which he followed with one of the greatest solo goals in the tournament's history.