Diego Maradona, widely regarded as one of the greatest soccer players of all time before drug and alcohol addiction marred his career, died yesterday at his home in Argentina after suffering a heart attack, his lawyer said. He was 60.
Beloved in his homeland after leading Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986 and adored in Italy for taking Napoli to two Serie A titles, Maradona was a uniquely gifted player who rose from the tough streets of Buenos Aires to reach the pinnacle of his sport.
He died four years to the day after one of his political heroes, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, and 15 years to the day after another troubled but talented football folk hero, George Best, whom Maradona cited as one of his boyhood inspirations.
Maradona had recently battled health issues and underwent emergency surgery for a subdural haematoma several weeks ago.
He suffered a heart attack at his home in the outskirts of Buenos Aires on Wednesday, acquaintances of the former player said. His death was confirmed by his lawyer.
In Buenos Aires, people began pouring onto the streets to mourn the nation’s favourite son, gathering in the San Andres neighbourhood where he lived and also in La Plata where he had lately been technical director for local team Gimnasia y Esgrima.
Pele, the Brazilian footballer who is considered one of the only players to have come close to Maradona’s skill level, was quick to pay tribute to the Argentine.
“Certainly, one day we’ll kick a ball together in the sky above,” he said in a brief statement provided to Reuters by a representative.