The Albiceleste superstar was recovering at his home in Tigre after undergoing brain surgery at the start of November
Argentine football legend Diego Maradona has passed away at the age of 60 after suffering a heart attack.
The Gimnasia coach had been hospitalised at the start of November, days after celebrating the landmark birthday, after complaining of low spirits and fatigue.
Tests at the La Plata clinic revealed a blood clot on the brain, which doctors later revealed was operated on successfully.
Maradona was subsequently released from hospital as an outpatient to continue his convalescence, which he carried out in his dwelling in a private neighbourhood near Tigre, northern Buenos Aires.
But on Wednesday morning he suffered cardiac arrest, and paramedics at the scene failed to revive him.
The Argentine national team’s official Twitter account confirmed the news on Wednesday, paying tribute to one of the nation’s favourite footballing sons.
“You will be eternal in every heart of the football world,” the message stated as it bade farewell to the superstar.
Argentina Football Association president Claudio Tapia also expressed his “deep grief” after learning the news.
Maradona began his professional career with Argentinos Juniors at the age of 16 and went on to be considered one of the greatest players ever to step onto a football field.
The diminutive left-footed forward went on to represent Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell’s Old Boys as a player, and the likes of Racing Club, Dorados, Gimnasia and the Argentina national team later as a coach.
It was with the Albiceleste, though, that his name was immortalised.
Maradona was instrumental in taking Argentina to their second World Cup triumph in 1986, captaining the team that prevailed over West Germany in the final under the stewardship of Carlos Bilardo.
He scored five goals over the course of the tournament to finish second behind England‘s Gary Lineker in the top scorer rankings, with the pair meeting in a quarter-final match which has entered the annals as perhaps the most iconic, and certainly most controversial, in the World Cup’s 90-year history.
The Argentina No.10 scored twice to take down England in a 2-1 victory, the first goal scored with his infamous ‘Hand of God’ and the second after dribbling around several opponents in what would soon be dubbed the ‘Goal of the Century’.
Maradona also helped his nation reach a second consecutive World Cup final four years later, only to fall to West Germany.
World pays tribute
Brazil legend Pele led tributes to Maradona, writing on Twitter: “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.”
Former England striker and Match of the Day host Gary Lineker, who was part of the England team beaten by Argentina at the 1986 World Cup, said Maradona was “by some distance, the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time”.
Ex-Tottenham and Argentina midfielder Ossie Ardiles said: “Thank dear Dieguito for your friendship, for your football, sublime, without comparison. Simply, the best football player in the history of football. So many enjoyable moments together. Impossible to say which one was the best. RIP my dear friend.”
Juventus and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo said: “Today I bid farewell to a friend and the world bids farewell to an eternal genius. One of the best of all time. 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.”
‘It was in football he found his peace’ – analysis
South American football writer Tim Vickery
He was an everyman Argentine, who lived out a national fantasy with the way he scored his two goals in that 1986 quarter-final win over England.
Scoring those goals, against that opponent, turned Maradona almost into a deity in the eyes of some of his compatriots – with disastrous consequences. Living the aftermath was not easy.
Without the discipline of football, the second half of his life was a chaotic affair.
But it was in football that he seemed to find his peace. As a fan he would turn up at the stadium of his beloved Boca Juniors, take off his shirt, swirl it around his head and lead the chanting.
For many his spontaneity and fallibility were part of the appeal.
His admirers thrived on the way he would fall down only to get back up again. It humanised a figure whose epic life was as mazy as one of his left-footed dribbles.