Maradona “the greatest of them all” dead at 60

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Diego Maradona, widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, has died at the age of 60.

Maradona was the inspiration and captain for Argentina’s World Cup success in Mexico in 1986, winning the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player.

He scored twice against England in a memorable 2-1 quarter-final win, his first goal being dubbed ‘the hand of God’ and the second winning the ‘Goal of the Century’ award on the FIFA website in 2002.

Maradona’s spokesman, Sebastian Sanchi, said he died on Wednesday of a heart attack, two weeks after being released from a hospital in Buenos Aires following brain surgery.

The Argentine FA confirmed the news in a statement on Twitter which read: “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.”

Argentine President Alberto Fernandez has described Maradona as “the greatest of them all”.

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“You took us to the world’s peak. You made us immensely happy. You were the greatest of them all. Thank you for having existed, Diego. We are going to miss you forever,” the president said via Twitter.

In an interview with local sports channel TyC Sports, in Buenos Aires, Fernandez also remembered Maradona, whom he met on several occasions, as “an absolutely genuine man, who expressed everything with the same strength with which he played football.”

“He is going to be an indelible person in the collective memory. He is a huge idol, a huge character that the collective memory will keep forever,” said Argentina’s president.

Asked if the government has any plans to hold a state funeral, Fernandez said he asked his aides to “talk to Maradona’s family” to discuss the possibility.

“All the doors of the state are open for Diego,” he said.

Fernandez is a fan of the Argentinos Juniors football club, in which Maradona made his debut as a professional soccer player in 1976, and where he played until 1980.

In statements to the daily Clarin, the president said he was working with the chief of the cabinet of ministers, Santiago Cafiero, when he learned of Maradona’s death.

“I cannot believe it. I am devastated. It is the worst news that a fan of Argentinos Juniors can receive. We love him,” he said.