Grieving football fans took the streets of Buenos Aires and beyond to mourn the death of Argentina football legend Diego Maradona.
The captain of Argentina’s 1986 World Cup winning team, regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, died aged 60 on Wednesday after suffering a cardiac arrest.
Fans gathered outside the humble home where he was born and raised in the Villa Fiorito neighborhood, they flocked to the stadium of Argentinos Juniors, where he started as a professional footballer in 1976 and congregated outside the iconic the historic La Bombonera stadium of Maradona’s bleoved Boca Juniors.
Supporters of the beautiful game also surrounded the hearse carrying the coffin of the former Barcelona and Napoli star to a funeral house in Buenos Aires, while riot police were stationed outside the mortuary.
The scenes were similar in Naples where Mardona spent the peak years of his caeer, almost single-handedly transforming the unfashionable Serie A club into Italian champions and UEFA Cup winners.
Some of world sport’s most famous names, meanwhile, have led the tributes to Maradona with his modern-day equivalent and fellow Argentine, Lionel Messi, describing his former international manager as ‘eternal’.
He said: ‘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 wanted to take the opportunity to send my condolences to all his family and friends. RIP.’
Messi’s long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo was similarly moved, saying: ‘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.’
Argentina’s president, Alberto Fernandez, meanwhile, has declared three days of national mourning.
‘You were the greatest of them all,’ he said. ‘Thank you for having existed, Diego. We’re going to miss you all our lives.’