Diego Maradona dies of heart attack, aged 60

Pelé, who was jointly named Fifa Player of the Century alongside Maradona, said: “One day, I hope we can play ball together in the sky”
Diego Maradona dies of heart attack, aged 60

Diego Maradona pictured in 2017. Photo by Alexander Hassenstein - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Diego Maradona, widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, has died of a heart attack at the age of 60.

Maradona's legend was sealed with his 1986 World Cup triumph as Argentina captain.

He was jointly named the Fifa Player of the Century along with Pelé and his solo goal, minutes after his famous 'Hand of God' goal, against England in 1986 was voted Fifa Goal of the Century.

Diego Maradona celebrates World Cup victory in 1986 with Argentina fans. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland
Diego Maradona celebrates World Cup victory in 1986 with Argentina fans. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

He had been in hospital in Buenos Aires after surgery to remove a blood clot on the brain earlier this month.

His death will be mourned across the globe, having played for the likes of Napoli, Barcelona, Sevilla, Boca Juniors, and Newell’s Old Boys before hanging up his boots in 1997. 

He also led Argentina to the 1990 World Cup final before his international playing career ended when he failed a drugs test at the 1994 World Cup. He was notorious for a wayward lifestyle throughout his life and was banned from football in 1991 after testing positive for cocaine while playing for Napoli.

However, he remained a revered figure at the Italian club, where he won two Serie A titles.

He managed in Mexico, the UAE, and his native Argentina, where he was national team manager for the 2010 World Cup and was most recently manager of Gimnasia y Esgrima in La Plata.

HAND OF GOD: Diego Maradona greets fans on his presentation as new coach of Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata in 2019. Picture: Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images
HAND OF GOD: Diego Maradona greets fans on his presentation as new coach of Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata in 2019. Picture: Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images

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.” 

The AFA said on Twitter: “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.”

Maradona is survived by his daughters Dalma and Gianinna, who was previously married to Sergio Aguero, son Diego and ex-wife Claudia Villafane.

His death falls on the 15th anniversary of that of George Best, another of football's worldwide icons, who died in 2005, aged 59.

Pelé, 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.”

Gary Lineker, who played in the England side in that quarter-final defeat, tweeted: “Reports from Argentina that Diego Armando Maradona has died.

“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”

Boca Juniors, where Maradona made his name before securing a then world-record transfer to Barcelona, tweeted: “Eternal thanks. Eternal Diego.”

“Always in our hearts. Ciao, Diego,” tweeted Napoli.

Asif Kapadia, who directed the 2019 film Maradona, tweeted: “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.”

Barcelona tweeted its “deepest condolences regarding the death of Diego Armando Maradona, a player for our club (1982-84) and an icon of world football. Rest in peace Diego.”

It is understood Uefa will hold a minute’s silence at all of Wednesday night’s Champions League matches in Maradona’s memory.

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