Diego Maradona has died at the age of 60, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) announced today.
The Argentina World Cup winner and the national team’s former manager had been in hospital in Buenos Aires after surgery to remove a blood clot on the brain earlier this month.
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 widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time and was instrumental in Argentina’s World Cup success in Mexico in 1986. He also led the country to the final of the 1990 tournament in Italy and managed them in South Africa in 2010.
Reacting to the news today former Bolivian president Evo Morales took to Twitter saying: “[It is] with a pain in my soul that I have learned of the death of my soul brother, Diego Armando Maradona. A person who felt and fought for the humble. The best soccer player in the world. Diego was a great defender of football at altitude and he loved Bolivia. [He was a] great friend of just causes. Not only [does] world football cry for him, but also the peoples of the world.”
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez said: “You took us to the top of the world. You made us immensely happy. You were the greatest of all. Thanks for having existed, Diego. We will miss you for life.”
In a short statement today, the English Premier League paid tribute to Maradona, saying: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of footballing great, Diego Maradona, an extraordinarily gifted footballer who transcended the sport. Our thoughts and sincere condolences to Diego’s family, friends and those who knew him.”
Maradona’s successes made him a global star and a national hero in Argentina but his career was also blighted by controversies on and off the field.
His “Hand of God” goal against England in the 1986 quarter-finals, when he pushed the ball into the net with his hand, earned him infamy – although he followed up by scoring the “goal of the century,” a remarkable solo effort, in the same game.
His international playing career ended in shame when he failed a drugs test at the 1994 World Cup in the United States and he was notorious for a wayward lifestyle. He was also 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 also played for Barcelona, Sevilla, Boca Juniors and Newell’s Old Boys and was most recently manager of Gimnasia y Esgrima in La Plata, Argentina.
This article was originally published in Morning Star, newspaper of the Communist Party of Britain.