Argentina soccer legend Diego Maradona has died of a heart attack at the age of 60, his lawyer Matias Morla confirmed to CNN.
The Argentine Football Association confirmed the news on Wednesday and posted a short message on its social media platforms.
“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,” it tweeted.
Regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the game, Maradona became a household name after inspiring his country to World Cup glory in 1986.
He took center stage at the tournament with a memorable performance against England where he scored an iconic goal that he later described as the “Hand of God.”
The diminutive forward out-jumped legendary keeper Peter Shilton and punched the ball into the net. Despite the obvious handball, the goal was allowed to stand because the referee did not see the foul.
Later in the game he scored one of the best goals in history after weaving his way past seven English defenders.
His glittering career was also marked by numerous controversies and his notorious lifestyle led to alcoholism and addiction.
Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez announced three days of national mourning for the passing of the superstar, and posted a tribute to Maradona on Twitter.
“You took us to the top of the world. You made us feel incredibly happy. You were the greatest of all. Thank you for having existed,” it read.
Meanwhile, UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin said a minute’s silence would be observed ahead of all European matches this week in honor of the Argentine.
“He will go down in history as someone who set football alight and thrilled fans young and old with his brilliance and skill,” Čeferin said in a statement.
Life off the pitch
Maradona broke into professional soccer with Boca Juniors but went on to play for leading European clubs such as Barcelona and Napoli.
He won two Serie A titles with the Italian side which tweeted “Forever. Goodbye Diego” along with a blue heart.
When Maradona joined Napoli, one newsreader remarked, “the poorest city in Italy buys the most expensive player in the world.”
Whilst his performances on the pitch dazzled, Maradona faced a number of demons off it.
During his time in Italy, he came into contact with the Camorra — the Neapolitan mafia — and struggled with addiction. He failed a drug test in 1991 and received a 15-month ban from the game.
A nomadic managerial career followed his playing years, taking him from Argentina, to Mexico and to the United Arab Emirates. Most recently, he coached Gimnasia y Esgrima in Argentina.
Earlier this month, Maradona underwent successful surgery for a subdural hematoma — more commonly known as a blood clot on the brain.
Soccer world reacts
Tributes have flooded in with former clubs and players past and present paying their respects.
Fellow Argentine Lionel Messi, who many saw as the modern-day Maradona, said it was a “very sad day.”
“He leaves us but he doesn’t go anywhere because Diego is eternal. I keep all the beautiful moments lived with him and I wanted to send my condolences and best wishes to all of his friends and family,” Messi wrote on Instagram.
Pelé, another legend of the game, tweeted: “I have 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 his family members. One day, I hope, we will play football together in heaven.”
Meanwhile, Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo said goodbye to an “eternal genius.”
“One of the best ever. 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,” Ronaldo wrote on Twitter.
Paris Saint-Germain and France striker Kylian Mbappe changed his Twitter picture to one of Maradona and tweeted: “You will stay in the history of football forever. Thank you for all the pleasure you gave to the whole world”
Barcelona, one of Maradona’s former clubs, also tweeted:
“Thank you for everything, Diego.”