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‘Ciao Diego’: Grief, shock and tributes as world mourns Maradona

File photo of banners outside a Buenos Aires hospital where Diego Maradona was treated in early November 2020.
File photo of banners outside a Buenos Aires hospital where Diego Maradona was treated in early November 2020. © Demian Alday Estévez / EFE
15 min

Tributes poured in Wednesday as the world reacted to the death of Argentine football superstar Diego Maradona at 60, with fellow footballers, coaches, club owners and politicians paying their respects to one of the game’s greatest players.

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Argentine President Alberto Fernandez declared three days of national mourning as football greats took to social media sites to pay their respects to Maradona, who died Wednesday of a heart attack.

Here are some of the reactions to his death:

Pele: 'I hope we will play football together in the sky'

Brazilian football great Pele posted a message on Instagram minutes after news of Maradona's death broke. 

"Sad news today. I have lost a dear friend, and the world has lost a legend," said Pele, 80, on Instagram, alongside a picture of Maradona hoisting the World Cup trophy in 1986.

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

Napoli club: 'Devastating blow'

Italian football club Napoli, where Maradona played from 1984-1991, issued a statement calling his death a "devastating blow" for both city and club.

"We are in mourning. We feel like a boxer who has been knocked out. We are in shock."

"Always in our hearts. Ciao Diego."

03:26

Messi: ‘Diego is eternal’

Lionel Messi paid tribute to his fellow Argentine player, calling him “eternal” on social media posts.

"A very sad day for all Argentines and football," Messi wrote on Instagram. "He has left us but he will never leave us because Diego is eternal. I will keep all the beautiful moments that I lived with him and would like to send my condolences to all his family and friends. RIP."

Messi and Maradona have often been compared in the debate about who was the greatest footballer of all time.

Both players are icons in Argentina and have been likened to each other due to their global status, dribbling style and famous number 10 shirts.

Zidane: 'He will live on in every football pitch in the world'

"When they tell you Diego has gone you say it cannot be but I have no doubt he will live on in every football pitch in the world. He was and is the best," said Real Madrid coach and former France star Zinedine Zidane.

Former England striker Gary Lineker: #RipDiego

"By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time. After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully he'll finally find some comfort in the hands of God. #RipDiego," said Lineker on Twitter.

The former English later retweeted a video clip of him meeting Maradona again in 2006, noting "Always a delight to be in his company."

Platini: 'Bit of our past has gone'

French footballing great Michel Platini said "a bit of our past has gone" after hearing the news of Maradona's death.

"I am very sad. I am nostalgic for what was a wonderful era," Platini, who starred for France in the 1980s and played for Juventus against Maradona's Napoli, told French radio station RTL.

"Diego left a mark on my life."

Argentina's Football Association: 'You will always be in our hearts'

"Argentina's football association, through its president Claudio Tapia, shares its deepest pain over the death of our legend, Diego Armando Maradona. You will always be in our hearts," said a message posted on Twitter.

04:00

Oswaldo Ardilles: 'Simply the best'

"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," said Maradona's former Argentina teammate on Twitter.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

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