Argentina football legend Diego Maradona has died of a heart attack at age 60, his lawyer has confirmed.
- Diego Armando Maradona, 60, died of a heart attack at his home near Buenos Aires on Wednesday
- He was known as one of the greatest footballers ever, winning the 1986 World Cup with Argentina
- His career and post-football life was marred by drug addiction and health issues
The former midfielder and national coach had recently battled health problems and underwent successful surgery earlier this month for a blood clot on his brain.
He suffered a heart attack at his home on the outskirts of Buenos Aires on Wednesday, Argentinian media and acquaintances of the former player said.
He famously captained Argentina to victory at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, winning the Golden Ball as best player of the tournament.
The tournament also featured his infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the quarter-finals.
At club level, he broke on to the scene with Argentinos Juniors and then joined the club he idolised as a boy, Boca Juniors, before moving to Europe and joining Spanish giants Barcelona in 1982 on what was then a record transfer fee.
The time in Barcelona did not work out, and he then moved to Italy in 1984, joining Serie A side Napoli.
He was idolised there and led the previously struggling club to their first ever Italian league title in 1987, before ending his playing career back in Argentina with Boca.
After his playing retirement he held several managerial roles, none more interesting than a brief and controversy-packed spell as Argentine national coach from 2008 to 2010, before coaching in the Middle East and Mexico.
Although his reputation was tarnished by drug problems, off-field indiscretions and the ill-fated spell in charge of the national team, he remained idolised in football-mad Argentina as the ‘Pibe de Oro’ or ‘Golden Boy’.
Hospitalised and reportedly near death in 2000 and again in 2004 for heart problems blamed on cocaine, Maradona later said he overcame the drug problem.
Cocaine, he once said famously, had proven to be his “toughest rival”.
‘You were the greatest of all’
In Argentina, the Government declared three days of mourning.
President Alberto Fernandez said in a tweet: “We will miss you all our lives.”
“You took us to the highest point of the world, and made us immensely happy.
“You were the greatest of all.
Thank you for having been with us, Diego.”
Brazilian football legend Pele, rated alongside Maradona as one of the greatest ever to play the game, was among those to mourn the Argentine.
“Certainly, one day we’ll kick a ball together in the sky above,” he said in a brief statement.
Messi, widely considered to be Argentina’s greatest footballer since Maradona, posted a picture tribute of the two.
“A very sad day for all Argentinians and for football,” Messi wrote on Instagram.
“You have left us but you are not gone because Diego is eternal.
“I have all the beautiful moments lived with him and want to send my thoughts to all his friends and family.”