World mourns Maradona’s passing

November 26, 2020
In this file photo from June 29, 1986, Diego Maradona holds up the FIFA World Cup trophy after Argentina’s 3-2 victory over West Germany at the World Cup final match at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, Mexico.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP):

Diego Maradona, the Argentine football great who scored the ‘Hand of God’ goal in 1986 and led his country to that year’s World Cup title before later struggling with cocaine use and obesity, has died. He was 60.

Maradona’s spokesman, Sebastián Sanchi, said he died yesterday of a heart attack, two weeks after being released from a hospital in Buenos Aires following brain surgery.

The office of Argentina’s president said it would decree three days of national mourning, and the Argentine football association expressed its sorrow on Twitter.

One of the most famous moments in the history of the sport, the ‘Hand of God’ goal, came when Maradona punched the ball into England’s net during the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals.

Ahead of his 60th birthday in October, Maradona told France Football magazine that it was his dream to “score another goal against the English, this time with the right hand.”

Maradona also captivated fans around the world over a two-decade career with a bewitching style of play that was all his own.

Although his reputation was tarnished by his addictions and an ill-fated spell in charge of the national team, he remained idolised in football-mad Argentina as the ‘Pibe de Oro’ or ‘Golden Boy’.

“You took us to the top of the world,” Argentine President Alfredo Fernández said on social media. “You made us incredibly happy. You were the greatest of all.”

The No. 10 he wore on his jersey became synonymous with him, as it also had with Pele, the Brazilian great with whom Maradona was regularly paired as the best of all time.

The Brazilian said in a statement he had lost “a dear friend.”

“There is much more to say, but for now may God give his family strength,” Pelé said. “One day, I hope, we will play football together in the sky.”

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