Tributes have poured in for Argentine football legend Diego Maradona who has died age 60.
The World Cup winner and the national team’s former manager had been in hospital in Buenos Aires after surgery to remove a blood clot on the brain earlier this month.
The AFA said on Twitter: ‘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.’
Despite his often controversial and colourful career, the former Barcelona and Napoli icon is widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time.
Maradona was the inspiration for Argentina’s World Cup success in Mexico in 1986 and the world of football has been quick to pay its respects.
El Diego spent two years at Barcelona and the Catalan giants, along with fierce rivals Real Madrid, were quick to recognise his legacy.
‘Real Madrid extends its condolences to his family and friends, his former clubs and football fans worldwide, particularly those in Argentina,’ said the current Spanish champions in an official statement.
‘Diego Armando Maradona leaves behind a truly remarkable legacy, an icon for millions of football fans across the globe.’
Boca Juniors, where Maradona began and ended his career in Argentina, tweeted: ‘Eternal thank you. Eternal Diego.’
Napoli, where Maradona spent seven years between 1984 and 1991 and won the club’s only two Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990, wrote: ‘For ever. Ciao Diego’.
Another football legend, the great Brazilian Pele, wrote: ‘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.’
Gary Lineker, whose World Cup dream was ended in 1986 by Maradona’s infamous Hand of God goal, tweeted: ‘Reports from Argentina that Diego Armando Maradona has died.
‘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’.
Lineker’s modern day equivalent, meanwhile, current England captain Harry Kane tweeted a picture of when he met Maradona in the Tottenham dressing room in 2017, and wrote: ‘Privileged to have met him. Very sad news. RIP Diego Maradona.’
His manager, Jose Mourinho, took to his Instagram account to share a picture of him on the bench with Maradona, and wrote: ‘Don Diego. F**k friend I miss you’.
Graeme Souness, who played against Maradona during his time in Italy with Sampdoria, told Sky Sports News: ‘An absolute genius on the pitch, but troubled off it. He has an argument for being the greatest player ever, I personally think it is another Argentinian (Lionel Messi) but that is only down to longevity.
‘He was tiny but he was fearless. There were players around at that time who were known to be over physical but he was an absolute warrior and ridiculously brave. He’d get kicked but he would come back for more. There have only been a handful of players in history who have been blessed with his ability. He was unique.’