Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona has died at home in Tigre on Wednesday after suffering a heart attack. The 1986 World Cup winner, known for his 'Hand of God' goal against England, was 60. He was hailed, alongside Brazil great Pele, as the world's greatest. (More Football News)
Maradona was discharged from the hospital a fortnight ago following brain surgery. The Argentina and Napoli great had undergone a routine operation for a subdural haematoma after being admitted to hospital due to concerns over anaemia and dehydration.
The Argentine Football Association (AFA) on Wednesday shared the news of Maradona's demise.
"The Argentine Football Association, through its President Claudio Tapia, expresses its deepest sorrow for the death of our legend, Diego Armando Maradona." the AFA tweeted.
Maradona was the fifth of eight children who grew up in a poor, gritty barrio on the Buenos Aires outskirts where he played a kind of dirt-patch football that launched many Argentines to international stardom.
Bold, fast and utterly unpredictable, Maradona was a master of attack, juggling the ball easily from one foot to the other as he raced upfield. Dodging and weaving with his low center of gravity, he shrugged off countless rivals and often scored with a devastating left foot, his most powerful weapon.
The No. 10 he wore on his jersey became synonymous with him, as it also had with Pele, the Brazilian great with whom Maradona was regularly paired as the best of all time. In 2001, FIFA named Maradona one of the two greatest in the sport's history, alongside Pele.
Lionel Messi, often hailed as his heir apparent, paid tribute to the former Argentina captain. Maradona coached Messi during his tenure as coach of La Albiceleste.
"Even if I played for a million years, I'd never come close to Maradona. Not that I'd want to anyway. He's the greatest there's ever been," Messi said.
Argentina president Alberto Fernandez has declared three days of national mourning after the news of Maradona's passing.
Maradona was the captain and inspiration behind football-mad Argentina's World Cup success in 1986, before going on to coach his country.
In a celebrated career, he scored 34 goals in 91 appearances for Argentina, representing them in four World Cups. He led Argentina to 1990 final in Italy, where they were beaten by West Germany.
But there was another side to his football brilliance.
Maradona banned for 15 months after testing positive for the drug in 1991. And was sent home from the 1994 World Cup in the United States after failing another drug test.
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Hospitalised near death in 2000 and again in '04 for heart problems blamed on cocaine, he later said he overcame the drug problem. Cocaine, he once said famously, had proven to be his "toughest rival."
But more health problems followed, despite a 2005 gastric bypass that greatly trimmed his weight. Maradona was hospitalised in early 2007 for acute hepatitis that his doctor blamed on excessive drinking and eating.
Maradona played for Barcelona and Napoli at his prime, and won two Serie A titles with the Italian side, in the 1986-87 and 1989-90 seasons.
The legend, often compared to Brazil great Pele as the world's greatest, started his career with Argentinos Juniors before joining Boca Juniors. He then went on to play for some of the greatest clubs before returning to Boca in 1995. He retired from professional football in 1997.
(With inputs from agencies)
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