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Tributes pour in for a football Icon Maradona at 60

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By Obinna Onuorah

Tributes are pouring in for Diego Maradona from all family and friends, business associates and all well-wishers from all over the globes who died because of cardiac arrest. He had lately been ill with a brain haemorrhage to follow many years of ill health. Diego could be regarded as the 20th century’s greatest footballer of all times due to his trickery, strength and his leadership skills. He was equally dubbed “King of soccer” by so many football faithfuls back in his playing days.

 The genius player was regarded as one of the greatest player during his playing days where he played with likes of Pele, Martin Palermo, Gianluca Vialli, Paolo Maldini, Carlo Ancelotti,  Roberto Baggio, Ray Wilkins and rest of them.

Maradona had an illustrious career capping 506 appearances for both club and country and scoring 293 goals.

He was fondly remembered by so many football fans when he scored in a world cup tournament using his hand which was later dubbed “Hand of God”.

Maradona had a brief spell with his home country Argentina in which he took them to South-Africa 2010 World Cup. They were great fun to watch due to calibre of players he had, but it eventually fell apart at the hands of Germany in the quarter-finals.

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández has declared a three day national mourning for him starting on 25th November.

 “You took us to the highest of the world. You made us immensely happy. You were the greatest of all. Thanks for having existed, Diego. We will miss you all our lives,” said Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández in a tweet.

“Today is a bad day, a very sad day for all Argentines,” said Argentina president Alberto Fernández in a TV interview. “I doubt that we will ever see another player like Maradona. The best thing about Diego is that he was an absolutely genuine man, he was not a fake man, he was a genuine man who expressed everything with the force with which he played football, he defended what he wanted, mistreated what he hated. That was Maradona in his purest state.”

Maradona was recovering from successful brain surgery on 3 November before kicking the bucket and he was equally reported to be suffering from abstinence from his alcohol habit.

Meanwhile, Uefa has confirmed a minute’s silence will be held at each of this week’s European matches which has already begun in this week’s Champions League games.

“I was in touch recently to wish Diego well, and this news comes as a considerable shock to me. He achieved greatness as a wonderful player with a genius and charisma of his own”, said Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin.

Maradona’s former son in-law Sergio Agüero who was once married to Maradona’s youngest daughter, Giannina and also the father of his first grandson paid his last respect for the man he grew up to respect.

He tweeted a tribute to him after his side’s victory in Champions League game on Wednesday.

“We are never going to forget you,” he wrote. “You are always with us. GraciasDiego. RIP”

Manchester United legend Eric Cantona has paid tribute to Maradona on Instagram. “I will miss you Diego but for me you did not die. I don’t have the words to say how I feel…” wrote the France and Manchester United star.

Maradona was never afraid to say what was on his mind. Here’s how he recounted a meeting he had with Pope John Paul II:

“I was in the Vatican and I saw all these golden ceilings and afterwards I heard the Pope say the church was worried about the welfare of poor kids,” he said. “Sell your ceiling then, amigo, do something!”

Gary Lineker (former three Lions Captain), who faced Maradona at the 1986 World Cup, has shared memories of his opponent.

“I played for a Rest of the World side at Wembley, when I was at Barcelona, all the great players like [Michel] Platini on the pitch were all totally in awe of him,” Lineker said on BT Sport.

“The first thing he did in the dressing room was sit there in just a pair of shorts, juggling his socks on his left foot for about five minutes. Then he went out on the pitch and did something incredible, one of the most unbelievable things I have even seen on a football pitch.

“He juggled the ball all the way out to the centre circle, when he got there, still juggling, he went ‘bang’ and kicked the ball up as high as he could, then waited.

“It came down, he went ‘bang’ and did it again. He did it 13 times and the most he ever did was walk three paces to it. All of us were sitting there saying: ‘that is impossible’.”

Not minding the rivalry between Brazil and Argentina, Brazil were the first organisation to pay their respect for Diego. It’s a confirmation of respect for Maradona who tormented Seleção on the field of play.

“Football is in mourning. Diego Armando Maradona enchanted the world with his determination, irreverence and relationship with the ball and the pitch,” the CBF tweeted. “A star who contributed to spread the passion of South Americans for football.”

Pele who played in Maradona’s era paid his respect for his former opponent. Their rivalry was mainly focused on international stage.

“What sad news. I 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 family members. One day, I hope we can play ball together in the sky.”

Johan Cruyff paid his tribute

Maradona, turns like a little eel, he comes away from trouble, little squat man … comes inside [Terry] Butcher and leaves him for dead, outside [Terry] Fenwick and leaves him for dead, and puts the ball away … and that is why Maradona is the greatest player in the world.

Johan Cruyff, another all-time great, and a fellow Barcelona alumni, has paid tribute, despite himself dying in 2016. The Twitter account is run by his foundation.

Cristiano Ronaldo has paid social media tribute.

Today I say goodbye to a friend and the world says 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.

Lionel Messi has paid tribute on Instagram

A very sad day for all Argentines and for football. He leaves us but does not leave, because Diego is eternal. I keep all the beautiful moments lived with him and I send my condolences to all his family and friends. RIP.

Other well-wishers are the clubs he once represented during his playing days.

Napoli

Napoli won their first ever Serie A title after the arrival of Diego Maradona in 1984, though they weren’t successful immediately after his signing; it was in after two years later in 1986 that they actually achieved the feat holding mock funerals for both Juventus and Milan.

“What Maradona did represent for us people of Naples goes beyond common rational thinking, it is mystical,” writes in Marco Mormone. “Like pagan Gods, he embodied all vices and defects of us mere human but, like pagan Gods, he had the power to lift our spirits, to empower our believes, and to make us feel special.”

Sevilla

He had a very small stint with Sevilla after leaving Napoli in a disgrace due to a doping incident which he served for fifteen months.

Maradona’s death coincidently comes on the same date of his childhood hero George Best, 25 November which is exactly 15 years ago. He often talked about Best and how the Manchester United legend was one of his childhood heroes.

Not just Best, Fidel Castro who’s an inspiration to him also died on the same date four years ago.

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