Maradona’s Surgeon Responds Tearfully To Investigation Into Star’s Death

FILES) This handout file photo taken on November 11, 2020 and released by the press officer of Diego Armando Maradona shows Argentine football legend Diego Maradona (R) shaking hands with his doctor Leopoldo Luque in Olivos, 
Diego Maradona press office / AFP

 

Diego Maradona’s surgeon responded to the launch of an investigation for involuntary manslaughter by saying he did “everything he could, up to the impossible” for an “unmanageable” patient.

Earlier in the day prosecutors in San Isidro, near Buenos Aires, said they were investigating Leopoldo Luque while Argentine television showed police raiding the doctor’s surgery and home.

A statement from the prosecutors’ office later said they had begun analysing material gathered and clarified that “no decisions have been made at the moment regarding the procedural situation of any person.”

The probe was triggered by concerns raised by Maradona’s daughters Dalma, Gianinna and Jana over the treatment he received for his heart condition at his home in Tigre, north of Buenos Aires, judicial sources said.

Maradona died of a heart attack on Wednesday aged 60, and was buried on Thursday at the Jardin de Paz cemetery on the outskirts of the Argentine capital.

“Our investigations are ongoing, we are talking to witnesses including members of the family” of Maradona, a source close to the San Isidro inquiry said.

“The clinic had recommended that he go elsewhere to be hospitalised, but the family decided otherwise. His daughters signed for him to be discharged from the hospital,” said a family member, on the condition of anonymity.

Later in the day, Luque, who is no relation to Maradona’s former Argentina team-mate of the same name, gave an emotional televised news conference.

“You want to know what I am responsible for?” the 39-year-old doctor asked between sobs. “For having loved him, for having taken care of him, for having extended his life, for having improved it to the end.”

Luque said he did “everything he could, up to the impossible” and considered himself a “friend” of Maradona and saw him “as a father, not as a patient”.

Luque had posted a photograph of himself with Maradona when the former player left hospital on November 12, eight days after the doctor operated to remove a brain blood clot. Maradona returned home to Tigre where he received round-the-clock medical care and could remain close to his daughters.

“He should have gone to a rehabilitation centre. He didn’t want to,” said Luque who called Maradona “unmanageable”.

 

READ ALSO: Maradona’s Doctor Investigated For Involuntary Manslaughter

 

– ‘Nothing to hide’ –

Luque said he did not know why there was no defibrillator in case of a heart attack in Maradona’s home in Tigre, and made clear that the home care was not his responsibility.

“I am a neurosurgeon,” said Luque.

“I am the person who has been taking care of him. I’m proud of everything I’ve done. I have nothing to hide. I am at the disposal of justice.”

Maradona’s lawyer, Matias Morla, had called for an investigation into claims that ambulances took more than half an hour to reach the football star’s house in response to an emergency call on the day of his death.

Luque said an ambulance should have been parked outside.

“A psychiatrist had asked that there should always be an ambulance in front of his house. I don’t know who is responsible for the fact that there was no ambulance,” Luque said.

Diego “was very sad, he wanted to be alone, and it’s not because he didn’t love his daughters, his family, or those around him,” Luque said. “He was brave.”

A judicial source told AFP that no official complaint has yet been filed.

“The case was initiated because he is a person who died at home and no one signed his death certificate. It does not mean there are suspicions or irregularities,” the source said, requesting to remain anonymous.

A preliminary autopsy report established that Maradona died in his sleep at noon on Wednesday of “acute lung oedema and chronic heart failure”.

The prosecutor’s office is awaiting the results of toxicological tests on Maradona’s body. The three prosecutors working on the case have requested his medical records, as well as recordings from neighbourhood security cameras.

-AFP

Argentine Prosecutors Probe Maradona’s Death

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 09, 2001 Argentinian football star Diego Maradona greets the public in the “La Bombonera” stadium of Boca Juniors Athletic club in Buenos Aires. AFP

 

Argentine prosecutors were investigating Friday the circumstances surrounding the death of Diego Maradona and whether it could have involved medical negligence, judicial sources said.

“There are already irregularities,” a close family member told AFP.

Maradona’s lawyer, Matias Morla, had earlier called for an investigation into claims that ambulances took more than half an hour to reach the football star’s house in response to an emergency call on the day of his death.

A preliminary autopsy report established that Maradona died in his sleep at noon on Wednesday of “acute lung edema and chronic heart failure.”

The prosecutor’s office in Buenos Aires has opened a file entitled “Maradona, Diego. Determination of the cause of death.”

“The case was initiated because he is a person who died at home and no one signed his death certificate. It does not mean there are suspicions or irregularities,” a judicial source said, requesting to remain anonymous.

The 60-year-old Argentine football legend was receiving round-the-clock medical care at a house in a gated community in Tigre, north of Buenos Aires, where he was recuperating from surgery to remove a clot on his brain in early November.

“You have to see if they did what they were supposed to do or if they relaxed,” the family member told AFP.

“The nurse made a statement when the prosecutor appeared on the day of Diego’s death, then expanded her statement and finally went on television to say that what she said was forced on her, so there is some contradiction in her statement,” the close relative said.

The prosecutor’s office is awaiting the results of toxicological tests on Maradona’s body.

The three prosecutors working on the case have requested the star’s medical records, as well as recordings from neighborhood security cameras.

Another nurse caring for Maradona was likely the last person to see the star alive, at dawn on Wednesday, prosecutors said in a statement on Friday.

“From his words, it could be established that he was the last person to see (Maradona) alive at approximately 6:30 in the morning,” as the night shift at the star’s house was ending, it said.

The nurse, interviewed by prosecutors on Thursday, “referred to having found him resting in his bed, assuring that he was sleeping and breathing normally.”

Maradona’s nephew Johnny Herrera was previously believed to have been the last person to see Maradona, at 11:30 pm on Tuesday.

Prosecutors said the nurse present in his house at the time of death told them that she had heard Maradona “moving around inside the room” at 7:30 am.

They said that at 12:17 pm, “Maradona’s personal secretary requested medical assistance, and an ambulance from the company +VIDA was present at 12:28 pm, according to film records from the San Andres neighborhood obtained by the prosecutor’s office.”

Several ambulances from other medical service providers arrived later.

Investigators have also established that Maradona’s personal doctor, Leopoldo Luque, had already made a 911 call at 12:16 pm, requesting an ambulance.

AFP

‘Diego Was Unlucky In Barcelona,’ Says Man Who Signed Maradona, Messi

Photo Credit: El Partidazo de COPE

 

The difference between Diego Maradona’s difficult spell at Barcelona and Lionel Messi’s triumphant reign at the club is largely down to luck, said the man who helped bring both Argentines to the Camp Nou.

“They are two very similar players. They are two number 10s. That is a position highly valued historically in Argentina,” said Jose Maria Minguella. “The number 10 is the creator of the game, the one who collects the ball and somehow creates danger.”

Minguella has been involved with Barcelona since the start of the 1970s and helped arrange the deals to secure not only the two Argentine stars but also a host of other players including such international stars as Romario and Hristo Stoichkov.

After a long courtship, he brought Maradona, aged 21, to Barcelona for a then world-record fee of 7.6 million dollars in 1982. He was also involved in the deal that brought Messi to the club at the age of 13.

Remembering Maradona, who died on Wednesday aged 60, Minguella told AFP: “Diego was unlucky.”

Maradona played for Barcelona from 1982-84, but his first season was cut short by hepatitis and in his second Athletic Bilbao defender Andoni Goikoetxea broke Maradona’s left ankle.

When the two clubs met in the cup final at the end of the season, Maradona started a brawl that earned him a three-month Spanish ban. He then moved to Napoli, where he was adored.

“He was alone for two years, a serious injury and an illness deprived him of his explosiveness, ” said Minguella. “The explosion came in Naples.”

Messi’s experience has been much happier.

“Leo has been of a benchmark of Barcelona football,” said Minguella. “He has shaped an era, won titles, broken records of all kinds.”

“We could say that Leo has been the more successful in terms of trophies, but as far as players are concerned I don’t notice any great differences between one and the other,” Minguella said. “They are left-sided, a similar height, and the only contrast is they played in different eras.

“In the time of Maradona, the referees were much more permissive, all the teams had their warriors in the midfield and defence who in one way or another, would deprive opponents of the chance to show their skills,” Minguella recalls.

 

READ ALSO: Argentina Bids Final Farewell To Favorite Son Maradona

– ‘The power of the greatest players’ –

“And then there was also the condition of the ball, the quality of the boots, the playing fields, which are now real billiard tables. Before players had to cope with water and mud.

“All this makes it a comparison very difficult, but I would say that they are players obsessed with their game, with playing football, obsessive about tactics, obsessed with getting to the opponent’s area as fast as possible and obsessive about scoring goals.

“They are two players who are not very expressive, but rather closed off. When you went on a trip with the team, the players would go out for walks on the morning of the game. Diego would stay in the room,” he recalls.

“In this sense, he has a certain rapport with Leo in that they are withdrawn people,” added Minguella.

He said both players needed time at a club: Messi at Barcelona and Maradona at Napoli.

“Leo has been much more effective because he has been here for many more years. The effect has been direct, very powerful. Diego didn’t have this opportunity in Barcelona, because he left.

“Yet Naples went from being unknown to being at the top level in Europe. This is the power of the greatest players.

Argentina Bids Final Farewell To Favorite Son Maradona

In this file photo taken on November 02, 2019, Gimnasia y Esgrima team coach Diego Armando Maradona gestures to supporters as he leaves the field after an Argentina First Division Superliga football match against Estudiantes, at El Bosque stadium, in La Plata, Buenos Aires province, Argentina.
ALEJANDRO PAGNI / AFP

 

Huge crowds bade a grief-filled adieu Thursday to Argentina’s favorite son Diego Maradona before he was buried on the outskirts of the capital after a farewell that at times descended into chaos.

As darkness fell, the football legend was laid to rest after a ceremony attended by family and close friends in the leafy surrounds of the Bella Vista cemetery outside Buenos Aires.

One of the greatest footballers of all time, the World Cup winner died on Wednesday aged 60, sparking mourning around the world.

“I thought Diego was immortal, I thought he would never die on us. I feel a terrible sadness for a person who made us so, so happy,” said 63-year-old bus driver Antonio Avila outside the cemetery.

 

EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Handout photo released by Argentina’s Presidency of players of the coffin of Argentine football legend Diego Maradona during his wake at the burning chapel of the Casa Rosada presidential palace in Buenos Aires on November 26, 2020 (Photo by – / Argentinian Presidency / AFP) 

 

The peaceful farewell at the cemetery contrasted sharply with the sometimes raucous scenes of his send-off in Buenos Aires that seemed somehow in keeping with the player’s tumultuous life.

There, riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets in clashes with stone-throwing fans that briefly threatened to mar a day of mourning for a beloved hero.

Thousands bid farewell

Tens of thousands of people had queued from early morning to file past the star’s coffin, draped in the Argentine flag and the player’s No.10 jersey, at the presidential palace.

But as the day wore on, fans queuing outside the palace grew increasingly impatient, and some took over a courtyard inside, where they chanted slogans, forcing officials to move Maradona’s coffin to another room as a security precaution.

 

Aerial view of the burial of late Argentine football legend Diego Armando Maradona at the Jardin Bella Vista cemetery, in Buenos Aires province, on November 26, 2020. (Photo by Emiliano LASALVIA / AFP)

 

Despite an earlier announcement extending the lying-in-state by several hours, officials shut the doors, and riot police clashed with stone-throwing fans on streets around the palace, arresting several people.

Later, the hearse bearing Maradona’s flag-draped coffin rolled through the gates of the presidency building and into the streets of Buenos Aires.

Fans crowded onto roadsides and highway bridges as the funeral cortege sped towards the western outskirts, surrounded by police outriders with sirens blaring.

Dozens of photographers and cameramen followed close behind on motorcycles.

Outrageous skill

The outrageously skillful Maradona, widely remembered for his “Hand of God” goal against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals, died of a heart attack while recovering from brain surgery.

“He was the best in the world, we’re going to miss him and his death broke our souls,” said Diego Armando Cabral, a 29-year-old bricklayer in Buenos Aires who was named after the footballer.

 

A man waves a flag at the effigy of late Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona, as people gather on November 26, 2020 outside the San Paolo stadium in Naples to mourn the death of Maradona. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

 

Tributes poured in from around the world following the star’s death.

His career and life were sometimes tainted by a loose interpretation of the rules of the game and a crippling addiction to cocaine and alcohol.

Lionel Messi, Argentina’s modern-day superstar, led the tributes as he said: “He has left us but he will never leave us because Diego is eternal.”

Brazilian legend Pele, 80, constantly compared with Maradona in the debate over football’s greatest player, said he hoped they would one day “play together in the sky.”

 ‘Hand of God’

Maradona, born into poverty in Lanus, just south of Buenos Aires, on October 30, 1960, also played for Argentine clubs Argentinos Juniors and Boca Juniors, as well as Spanish giants Barcelona before becoming a hero in the working-class southern Italian city of Naples.

In his most infamous match, he leapt and used his fist to score past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals in Mexico City, unseen by the referee. Maradona memorably described the goal as “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.”

 

The coffin carrying the remains of the late Argentinian football legend Diego Armando Maradona is carried out from the Casa Rosada government house, in Buenos Aires, on November 26, 2020. –  (Photo by JUAN MABROMATA / AFP)

 

Nevertheless, just minutes after that goal, the diminutive Maradona weaved through six English defenders from the halfway line to score an unforgettable solo second that has been honored as FIFA’s “Goal of the Century.”

The two contrasting goals perfectly encapsulated the mixture of brilliant skill and often outlandish behavior that ran through Maradona’s life.

His career was crowned by his performances at that World Cup, when he captained Argentina to glory.

Maradona also inspired Argentina to the 1990 final, only for West Germany to take their revenge. At the 1994 World Cup, he failed a doping test and was sent home from the United States in disgrace.

Maradona’s lifestyle took a heavy toll on his health. He was hospitalized three times in the last 20 years for serious health issues.

 ‘Ciao Diego’

His extraordinary talent was evident from a young age, and after starring for Boca Juniors, he was transferred to Barcelona. After a turbulent time in Spain, a then-world record transfer to Naples came to define his club career.

Maradona enchanted an entire city by leading the then-unfashionable Napoli to their only two Italian league titles in 1987 and 1990, befriending a mafia family along the way.

In Naples, heartbroken fans gathered at the Stadio San Paolo stadium to lay candles, scarves and shirts, creating a makeshift shrine to their hero.

“He was our Sunday warrior,” Fernando Carfora, 46, said. “Maradona didn’t play with his feet, he played with his head. Nobody scored Maradona’s goals.”

Maradona’s playing career went into swift decline after leaving Napoli under a cloud in 1991 following another failed drug test.

As a coach, he led Argentina to the 2010 World Cup before spells with clubs in the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and his home country again — the last at Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata — but he could never hit the heights of his playing days.

Maradona married his long-time girlfriend Claudia Villafane in 1984. They had two daughters, Dalma and Gianinna, but the relationship was punctuated by Maradona’s extra-marital affairs, and they divorced in 2004.

He also had a son, Diego Junior, born in Naples in 1986, although he only acknowledged paternity in 2004.

Argentina And The World Of Football Mourn Maradona

Fans hold photos of Argentinian late football legend Diego Armando Maradona outside the Casa Rosada government house as they wait to pay their tribute to his coffin in Buenos Aires, on November 26, 2020. PHOTO: RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP

 

Thousands of Argentines filed past Diego Maradona’s coffin in Buenos Aires on Thursday after the country and the world of football was plunged into mourning by his death at the age of 60.

Mourners, many in tears, and many wearing the World Cup winner’s number 10 Argentina jersey, gathered at the Casa Rosada presidential palace where the national hero’s coffin was draped in the sky blue and white Argentine flag.

Many more will pay homage to one of the all-time sporting greats before his burial on the outskirts of Buenos Aires later on Thursday.

READ ALSO: Diego Maradona’s Life In 10 Key Dates

Maradona will be laid to rest in the Jardin de Paz cemetery, where his parents were also buried, his spokesman Sebastian Sanchi told AFP.

Tributes poured in from around the world as supporters, players and government leaders marked the passing of a sporting genius whose career and life was sometimes tainted by a loose interpretation of the rules of the game and a crippling addiction to cocaine.

The outrageously skilful Maradona, widely remembered for his “Hand of God” goal against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals, died Wednesday of a heart attack while recovering from brain surgery, a member of his entourage told AFP.

Family members were summoned to Maradona’s home north of the Argentine capital before his death was announced.

Lionel Messi, Argentina’s modern-day superstar, led the tributes as he said: “He has left us but he will never leave us because Diego is eternal.”

READ ALSO: Maradona To Be Buried Today Outside Buenos Aires – Spokesman

Brazilian legend Pele, 80, constantly compared with Maradona in the debate over football’s greatest player, said he hoped they would one day “play together in the sky”.

Despite a wave of coronavirus cases in Argentina, fans gathered at landmarks including Buenos Aires’ Obelisk monument and Argentinos Juniors’ Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, where he started his career.

 

– ‘Hand of God’ –

Maradona, born in Lanus, just south of Buenos Aires, on October 30, 1960, also played for Boca Juniors and Barcelona before becoming a hero in the working-class southern Italian city of Naples in a career marked by wild highs and lows.

In his most infamous match, he leapt and used his fist to score past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals in Mexico City, memorably describing the goal as “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God”.

Minutes later he weaved through six English defenders from the halfway line to score an unforgettable solo second which was later honoured as FIFA’s “Goal of the century”.

The two contrasting goals perfectly encapsulated the mixture of brilliant skill and often outlandish behaviour that ran through Maradona’s life.

Maradona’s career was crowned by his performances at that World Cup, when he captained Argentina to glory.

After dismissing England he scored twice in the semi-final against Belgium and set up the 86th-minute winner in the final against West Germany.

It was to prove the highlight for Maradona, who inspired Argentina to the 1990 final only for West Germany to take their revenge. In 1994 he was in physical decline and, following an eye-bulging goal celebration direct to the TV cameras after scoring against Greece, failed a drugs test and was sent home in disgrace.

Gary Lineker, who was in the beaten England team in 1986, said Maradona was “arguably the greatest of all time”, adding in a reference to the controversial goal: “After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God. #RipDiego.”

Excesses with drugs and alcohol had long taken their toll on Maradona’s health. He was admitted to hospital three times in the last 20 years for serious health issues due to his addictions.

 

– ‘Ciao Diego’ –

Maradona grew up in poverty, but his extraordinary talent was clear from a young age at Argentinos Juniors and Boca.

He moved to Barcelona but was singled out for rough treatment by opposing defenders and soon fell out of love with the Spanish club.

It was in Naples where Maradona would enchant an entire city by leading the then unfashionable Napoli to their only two Italian league titles in 1987 and 1990, befriending a mafia family along the way.

“Always in our hearts. Ciao Diego,” Napoli tweeted, while the club’s president and the city’s mayor called for the Stadio San Paolo to be renamed after Maradona.

In recent years, Maradona, reduced to hobbling by the ravages of his career and lifestyle, had coached in the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Argentina without ever hitting the heights of his playing days.

Maradona married his long-time girlfriend Claudia Villafane in 1984. They had two daughters, Dalma and Gianinna, but the relationship was punctuated by Maradona’s extra-marital affairs and they divorced in 2004.

He also had a son, Diego Junior, born in Naples in 1986, although he only acknowledged paternity in 2004.

In 2000, FIFA ran an online Player of the Century poll. Maradona gained 54 percent of the vote and Pele was second with 18 percent. FIFA declared them joint winners.

AFP

Maradona To Be Buried Today Outside Buenos Aires – Spokesman

In this file photo taken on November 02, 2019,  Diego Armando Maradona gestures to supporters as he leaves the field. PHOTO:  ALEJANDRO PAGNI / AFP

 

Argentine football legend Diego Maradona will be buried Thursday on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, a spokesman said.

Maradona, who died of a heart attack Wednesday at the age of 60, will be laid to rest in the Jardin de Paz cemetery, where his parents were also buried, Sebastian Sanchi told AFP.

Maradona, one of the greatest footballers of all time, died on Wednesday, November 26 at the age of 60, plunging his sport and his native Argentina into mourning.

RELATED:

Argentines Mourn Maradona, ‘The Most Human Of gods’

Argentina And The World Of Football Mourn Maradona

Renowned along with Pele as one of the greatest players ever to play the game, the Argentine World Cup-winning captain died of a heart attack, having undergone brain surgery earlier this month, a member of his entourage told AFP.

Maradona will forever be known for his “Hand of god” goal against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final in Mexico when he appeared to use his hand to push the ball into the net before later swerving through the English defenders for a memorable second goal that sealed the victory.

Pele said Maradona had been a “dear friend” and said he hoped they would “play together in the sky” one day.

Gary Lineker, who was in the England team defeated in 1986, tweeted that Maradona was “arguably the greatest of all time” but made a reference to that infamous goal by adding: “After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully, he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God. #RipDiego”

Lionel Messi, the Argentine considered one of the world’s greatest modern-day players, said Maradona was “eternal”.

Argentine President Alberto Fernandez immediately announced three days of national mourning in the South American country.

AFP

Argentines Mourn Maradona, ‘The Most Human Of gods’

Fans gather outside the morgue where the late Argentine football star Diego Maradona’s body will undergo an autopsy “to establish the cause of death” -as public prosecutor John Broyard said-, in San Fernando, Buenos Aires province, on November 25, 2020. Juan Mabromata / AFP

 

Stunned Argentines were plunged into grief Wednesday by the death of the country’s favorite son Diego Maradona, a sublimely gifted sporting hero they saw as “the most human of gods.”

The news fell like a hammer blow a nation beaten down by months of economic crisis and the health pandemic, but one where soccer is seen as a panacea for all ills.

Fans searching for a place to grieve gravitated towards the Obelisk landmark in the center of Buenos Aires — and, of course, the Bombonera, the steep-sided cauldron of a stadium that is home to Boca Juniors, where Maradona’s genius was forged.

“I can’t believe it. It’s incredible. One thinks one gets through any storm, but no, everyone ends up being mortal. It feels like a bad dream. A joke,” Francisco Salaverry, 28, told AFP.

“Today’s a bad day. A very sad day for all Argentines,” President Alberto Fernandez summed up in an interview with sports channel TyC, after declaring three days of national mourning.

All around the city, the mourning had already begun as fans stood forlornly beside banners in homage to the Number 10, showing Maradona — who died aged 60 of a heart attack — in his dashing prime.

Many of the banners simply said D10S, a play on the Spanish word “Dios” for “God” that includes Maradona’s jersey number.

– ‘Wandering, Dirty, And Sinful god’ –

If soccer is a religion in Argentina, then Maradona really was its god — especially for the founders of the Maradonian Church, a mostly internet-based group that uses religious language to venerate the player.

The “Church” called on fans to gather in his honor at the Obelisk at 6:00 pm (2100 GMT), a traditional rallying point in central Buenos Aires for soccer celebrations.

“I prefer not to speak. I’m going to the Obelisk today,” said Guillermo Rodriguez, a fan who gave himself a tattoo of his idol on October 30th to celebrate Maradona’s 60th birthday.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 09, 2001, Argentinian football star Diego Maradona greets the public in the “La Bombonera” stadium of Boca Juniors Athletic club in Buenos Aires. ALI BURAFI / AFP

 

Rodriguez, 42, couldn’t hold back his tears, saying he now knew he would never be able to fulfill his dream of hugging his idol.

“I’m totally shocked, grief-stricken,” said Gabriel Oturi, 68. “I’ll be honest with you. I thought he was a great guy who didn’t have very good people around him, who was taken advantage of a lot.”

“The first thing my 12-year-old son said to me was: ‘Mum, Maradona died.’ I couldn’t believe it. And I didn’t adore him particularly, but I felt sorry for him,” said Marcela Rodriguez, 52.

“Few times in my life have I felt the pain that invades me today,” wrote Maurico Passadore on social media, thinking about the famous World Cup tie against England in Mexico 1986, when Maradona scored the infamous “Hand of God” goal.

“Few times have I felt as much joy as that June 29, when we touched the sky with our hands, the same sky that today is darkened and fills us with tears.”

Some pointed out that Maradona died on the same date as his hero Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary leader he referred to as his “second father”.

Maradona’s struggles with drugs throughout his career were part of what made Argentines so protective of their hero.

An anonymous social media user went viral with a message saying Maradona “was a wandering, dirty and sinful god. The most human of gods.”

Maradona To Lie In State At Argentina’s Presidential Palace

Maradona Joins Belarus's Brest As Chairman
Argentina’s forward Diego Maradona is carried on the shoulders of fans as he does a victory lap holding the FIFA World Cup after Argentina defeated West Germany 3-2 in the World Cup final on June 29, 1986, in Mexico City. STAFF / AFP

 

The body of Argentine football legend Diego Maradona, who died Wednesday, will lie in state at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires during three days of national mourning, the presidency announced.

Maradona would lie in state at the Casa Rosada palace so the public could pay homage to the sporting hero “from Thursday until Saturday,” presidency spokesman Mario Huck told AFP.

Diego Maradona’s Life In 10 Key Dates

From his birth in 1960 to Argentina’s World Cup triumph in 1986 and his positive drug test at the 1994 finals — here are 10 key dates in the colourful life of Diego Maradona, who died on Wednesday aged 60:

– October 30, 1960 –

Maradona is born in Lanus, to the south of Buenos Aires.

The son of Diego Maradona and Delma Franco, he is one of seven children.

– October 20, 1976 –

Makes his debut in Argentina’s top flight for Buenos Aires side Argentinos Juniors, just before his 16th birthday.

He went on to win his first cap for Argentina in February 1977, selected by coach Cesar Luis Menotti for a 5-1 win against Hungary.

His first goal for Argentina came in a 3-1 win over Scotland at Hampden Park in Glasgow in 1979.

– September 7, 1979 –

Wins the World Youth Championship, scoring the third goal as Argentina beat the Soviet Union 3-1 in the final in Tokyo.

– June 13, 1982 –

Now a Boca Juniors player, Maradona takes part in a World Cup match for the first time as the holders lose 1-0 to Belgium in the opening game at the tournament in Spain.

After the tournament he joined Barcelona and two years later he signed for Napoli for a world-record fee at the time.

– June 22, 1986 –

Scores his two legendary goals against England in the World Cup quarter-final in Mexico, the “Hand of God” and then his stunning high-speed slalom that was later named “Goal of the Century” by FIFA.

Argentina went on to win the trophy, beating West Germany 3-2 in the final.

– July 8, 1990 –

Captains Argentina to a 1-0 defeat against West Germany in the World Cup final in Rome.

– June 25, 1994 –

Skippers Argentina to a 2-1 win over Nigeria at the World Cup in the United States.

After the match, he tests positive for ephedrine and is suspended for 15 months.

He had already been suspended for 15 months for cocaine use in his Napoli days.

Maradona retired from playing in 1997 and continued to struggle with drug and wider health problems.

He underwent gastric bypass surgery in Colombia in 2005.

– November 4, 2008 –

Becomes coach of Argentina, leading them to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Eliminated in the quarter-finals by Germany, he departs after the tournament.

– November 3, 2020 –

Four days after his 60th birthday, Maradona undergoes brain surgery on a blood clot.

– November 25, 2020 –

Dies of a heart attack at home in the Buenos Aires suburbs as he recovers from brain surgery.

AFP

Diego Maradona’s Life In 10 Key Dates

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 09, 2001 Argentinian football star Diego Maradona greets the public in the “La Bombonera” stadium of Boca Juniors Athletic club in Buenos Aires. ALI BURAFI / AFP

 

From his birth in 1960 to Argentina’s World Cup triumph in 1986 and his positive drug test at the 1994 finals — here are 10 key dates in the colourful life of Diego Maradona, who died on Wednesday aged 60:

– October 30, 1960 –

Maradona is born in Lanus, to the south of Buenos Aires.

The son of Diego Maradona and Delma Franco, he is one of seven children.

– October 20, 1976 –

Makes his debut in Argentina’s top flight for Buenos Aires side Argentinos Juniors, just before his 16th birthday.

He went on to win his first cap for Argentina in February 1977, selected by coach Cesar Luis Menotti for a 5-1 win against Hungary.

His first goal for Argentina came in a 3-1 win over Scotland at Hampden Park in Glasgow in 1979.

– September 7, 1979 –

Wins the World Youth Championship, scoring the third goal as Argentina beat the Soviet Union 3-1 in the final in Tokyo.

– June 13, 1982 –

Now a Boca Juniors player, Maradona takes part in a World Cup match for the first time as the holders lose 1-0 to Belgium in the opening game at the tournament in Spain.

After the tournament he joined Barcelona and two years later he signed for Napoli for a world-record fee at the time.

– June 22, 1986 –

Scores his two legendary goals against England in the World Cup quarter-final in Mexico, the “Hand of God” and then his stunning high-speed slalom that was later named “Goal of the Century” by FIFA.

Argentina went on to win the trophy, beating West Germany 3-2 in the final.

– July 8, 1990 –

Captains Argentina to a 1-0 defeat against West Germany in the World Cup final in Rome.

– June 25, 1994 –

Skippers Argentina to a 2-1 win over Nigeria at the World Cup in the United States.

After the match, he tests positive for ephedrine and is suspended for 15 months.

He had already been suspended for 15 months for cocaine use in his Napoli days.

Maradona retired from playing in 1997 and continued to struggle with drug and wider health problems.

He underwent gastric bypass surgery in Colombia in 2005.

– November 4, 2008 –

Becomes coach of Argentina, leading them to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Eliminated in the quarter-finals by Germany, he departs after the tournament.

– November 3, 2020 –

Four days after his 60th birthday, Maradona undergoes brain surgery on a blood clot.

– November 25, 2020 –

Dies of a heart attack at home in the Buenos Aires suburbs as he recovers from brain surgery.

AFP

Maradona’s Remains To Undergo Autopsy, Says Prosecutor

File photo of Argentine legend, Maradona. Credit: AFP

 

Diego Maradona’s remains will undergo an autopsy later Wednesday “to establish the cause of death,” public prosecutor John Broyard said.

“The autopsy will be performed to establish the cause of death, which has only natural characteristics,” the prosecutor told reporters outside the house where the soccer idol died earlier in the day.

Broyard said the football legend died “at 12 noon” (1500 GMT).

Diego Maradona’s Life In 10 Key Dates

From his birth in 1960 to Argentina’s World Cup triumph in 1986 and his positive drug test at the 1994 finals — here are 10 key dates in the colourful life of Diego Maradona, who died on Wednesday aged 60:

– October 30, 1960 –

Maradona is born in Lanus, to the south of Buenos Aires.

The son of Diego Maradona and Delma Franco, he is one of seven children.

– October 20, 1976 –

Makes his debut in Argentina’s top flight for Buenos Aires side Argentinos Juniors, just before his 16th birthday.

He went on to win his first cap for Argentina in February 1977, selected by coach Cesar Luis Menotti for a 5-1 win against Hungary.

His first goal for Argentina came in a 3-1 win over Scotland at Hampden Park in Glasgow in 1979.

– September 7, 1979 –

Wins the World Youth Championship, scoring the third goal as Argentina beat the Soviet Union 3-1 in the final in Tokyo.

– June 13, 1982 –

Now a Boca Juniors player, Maradona takes part in a World Cup match for the first time as the holders lose 1-0 to Belgium in the opening game at the tournament in Spain.

After the tournament he joined Barcelona and two years later he signed for Napoli for a world-record fee at the time.

– June 22, 1986 –

Scores his two legendary goals against England in the World Cup quarter-final in Mexico, the “Hand of God” and then his stunning high-speed slalom that was later named “Goal of the Century” by FIFA.

Argentina went on to win the trophy, beating West Germany 3-2 in the final.

– July 8, 1990 –

Captains Argentina to a 1-0 defeat against West Germany in the World Cup final in Rome.

– June 25, 1994 –

Skippers Argentina to a 2-1 win over Nigeria at the World Cup in the United States.

After the match, he tests positive for ephedrine and is suspended for 15 months.

He had already been suspended for 15 months for cocaine use in his Napoli days.

Maradona retired from playing in 1997 and continued to struggle with drug and wider health problems.

He underwent gastric bypass surgery in Colombia in 2005.

– November 4, 2008 –

Becomes coach of Argentina, leading them to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Eliminated in the quarter-finals by Germany, he departs after the tournament.

– November 3, 2020 –

Four days after his 60th birthday, Maradona undergoes brain surgery on a blood clot.

– November 25, 2020 –

Dies of a heart attack at home in the Buenos Aires suburbs as he recovers from brain surgery.

AFP

Diego Maradona: Five Of His Greatest Goals

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 29, 1986 Argentina’s team captain Diego Maradona evades a tackle from West Germany’s Lothar Matthaus during the World Soccer Cup final, won by Argentina’s team after a 3-2 victory over West Germany, at the Azteca stadium in Mexico City. STAFF / AFP

 

Few players mastered the spectacular quite like Diego Maradona. From stunning free-kicks to winding dribbles, the Argentine, who has died at the age of 60, scored some of the most famous — and thrilling — goals in football history.

Here AFP Sport picks five of the best from arguably the greatest footballer to ever play the game:

The ‘Goal Of The Century’

The solo goal against which all solo goals will be judged. Named the “Goal of the Century” by FIFA in 2002, his high-speed slalom in Mexico in 1986 ended England’s World Cup and cemented Maradona’s position as the world’s best footballer.

The goal trumps others of its type not just because of its impact, the stage, the spectre of the Falklands War and the fact that it came just minutes after his notorious ‘Hand of God’ goal, but for the efficiency of its execution.

Maradona barely deviates from his path towards goal the moment he spins free in midfield, with a few drops of the shoulder enough to embarrass England for the second time in the space of five minutes.

“Diego assures me that he meant to pass to me several times but there was always some obstacle that forced him to change plans. Just as well,” striker Jorge Valdano, who followed Maradona up the field, said later.

“But let’s not deceive ourselves, I am convinced that Diego was never going to release that ball. Throughout those 10 seconds and 10 touches, he changed his mind hundreds of times because that’s how the mind of genius in action works.”

The ‘Divine Free-Kick’ That Conquered Naples

Nicknamed the “divine free-kick” in Italy, Maradona’s iconic winning goal for Napoli in the November 1985 home clash with Michel Platini’s Juventus — reigning European champions — was the one that created the Argentine’s legend in Naples.

Standing over an indirect free-kick well inside the penalty area, legend has it that Maradona asked midfielder Eraldo Pecci to roll him the ball for a shot despite the closeness of the Juventus wall.

With Napoli players furious at their Juve counterparts for not stepping further back, Maradona simply said: “Don’t worry, I’ll score anyway”.

A quick touch from Pecci was all he needed to flick a stupendous effort over a group of Juve players who were practically on his toes as he hit the ball and past a bamboozled Stefano Tacconi in the Juve goal.

“With this goal,” he wrote in 2017, “I conquered the hearts of Neapolitans.”

‘El Pibe’ Volleys Verona

There were more crucial goals among Maradona’s 115 for Napoli, but few matched the sheer nonchalance of his outrageous lob in a 5-0 hammering of reigning Serie A champions Hellas Verona in October 1985.

Collecting a long pass with his back to goal on the left flank, Maradona span round and saw future teammate Giuliano Giuliani positioned just too far to the left, only a few yards off his line.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 29, 1986, Argentina’s football star team captain Diego Maradona kisses the World Cup won by his team after a 3-2 victory over West Germany on at the Azteca stadium in Mexico City. AFP

 

Quick as a flash, and with the ball still bouncing, Maradona took a step and clipped a looping shot towards goal that gently faded off the left post as Giuliani realised — too late — that he was about to be humiliated.

Bamboozled Belgium Beaten

His world-beating effort against England is rightly the goal everyone remembers, but his second of another double against Belgium in the semi-finals of the same World Cup in 1986 was almost as good.

Picking the ball up on the edge of midfield in the 63rd minute having already put Argentina a goal ahead, he quickly advanced and sent three Belgium defenders packing with one shimmy which allowed him to charge into the penalty area.

Having now isolated flat-footed right back Eric Gerets, he drags ball and defender to the left before cutting his shot back across goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff, who can only sit on his backside as a fierce drive flashes past him and puts Maradona to within touching distance of World Cup glory.

Derby Destruction

A lifelong Boca Juniors fan, Maradona spent barely a year and a half at his boyhood club before departing for Europe, but he quickly won the hearts of the supporters of the Buenos Aires giants with his prodigious attacking play.

In November 1981 Maradona lit up River Plate’s Monumental stadium with the sort of vision that took him to the very top of the game, somehow scoring from a tight angle on the left flank with nothing on and barely any gap in which to squeeze the ball.

The shot both floated and flew past a bewildered River and Argentina stopper Ubaldo Fillol, who in a foreshadowing of Giuliani’s desperation for Verona, raced in vain towards his near post but was beaten before he had even moved.

Maradona’s Legend Shaped By His ‘Hand Of God’

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 26, 2013, Football legend Argentinian Diego Maradona gestures during a press conference in Naples. CARLO HERMANN / AFP

 

Diego Maradona scored more than 300 goals, many touched with genius, but the two most famous came within four minutes of each other on June 22, 1986, in Mexico: one was voted Goal of the Century, the other is even more famous.

Maradona and Argentina arrived at that World Cup with something to prove. Four years earlier in Spain, Maradona’s first World Cup had ended with early elimination and a red card for a spectacular foul against Brazil.

In Mexico, Argentina cruised through their group, edged past old enemies Uruguay in the last 16, and then faced England, an enemy of a different kind, in the quarter-finals at the vast Azteca Stadium.

Maradona has given repeated accounts of that match: in his autobiography ‘Maradona’; in a book with Argentine journalist Daniel Arcucci on that World Cup called ‘Touched by God’, and in interviews. The language may be more or less colourful, but the details remain the same.

Maradona remembered the humiliation of the Falklands War — over the British-owned archipelago in the South Atlantic known in Spanish as the ‘Malvinas’ — four years earlier when Argentina surrendered to the British shortly after the start of the World Cup in Spain.

“It was England, let’s not forget, and the ‘Malvinas’ were fresh in the memory,” he said. “It was a battle, yes, but on my battlefield.”

The first half was cagey.

“I was bored stiff,” his team-mate Jorge Valdano wrote in The Guardian 20 years later. “Eleven functionaries on each side trying not to make a mistake.”

That changed in the 51st minute. Maradona beat three men in midfield. Finding his way blocked, he pinged a pass to Valdano and set off in anticipation of a return.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 29, 1986, Argentina’s football star team captain Diego Maradona kisses the World Cup won by his team after a 3-2 victory over West Germany on at the Azteca stadium in Mexico City. AFP

 

Steve Hodge stole the ball. The back-pass to the goalkeeper was still legal and that’s what the England midfielder tried.

“The ball bounced nice,” he said later. “I caught it absolutely spot on. It was the contact I wanted, looping it back with a bit of dip. When I caught it, I didn’t have a moment’s thought that it could be a problem, because I didn’t know where Maradona was.”

– ‘Jumped like a frog’ –

Maradona, as usual, was thinking faster than anyone else and racing toward a goal as Peter Shilton advanced to catch the ball.

“It floated down to me like a little balloon. Oh boy, what a treat,” said Maradona.

“Shilton thought I was going to hit him. But I jumped like a frog.”

Maradona was some seven inches (18cm) shorter than the England goalkeeper.

“If you look at my feet, you’ll see that I’m already in the air, moving upward. I keep moving up, and he hasn’t even left the ground,” Maradona said. “I got an idea, to put my hand and my head in.”

Maradona’s left hand flicked the ball between Shilton’s open arms and into the goal.

“The one who realised what happened was (Terry) Fenwick,” said Maradona. “But apart from him, nothing, no one else.”

When the England defender appealed, the BBC commentator, Barry Davies, assumed it was for offside. Even the celebration was part of Maradona’s deception.

“I kept on running, never looking back,” he said.

Argentina manager Carlos Bilardo had forbidden midfielders to waste energy running to join celebrations. Maradona waved his team-mates toward him.

“This time, I needed them. I really did.

“(Sergio) ‘Checho’ Batista was the first one to come over, but slowly.

“He asked me: ‘Did you use your hand?’ I told him ‘Shut the fuck up and keep celebrating!’ We were still afraid they would disallow the goal.”

“As a kid in Fiorito, I would score goals with my hand all the time. And I did the same thing in front of a hundred thousand people, but no one saw it,” he said.

Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser looked at Bulgarian linesman Bogdan Dochev and then gave the goal.

“All they saw was the screaming after I had scored. And if they screamed that loud, it was because they were sure I had scored. So how could we possibly blame the Tunisian ref?”

Maradona says his other handball goals included several in Argentina and two for Napoli.

He said that once in Argentina, “many years before Mexico”, he was caught and the referee “advised me not to do it anymore; I thanked him, but also told him I couldn’t promise him anything. I imagine he was celebrating like crazy against England.”

– ‘Stealing from a thief’ –

Maradona came up with the phrase ‘Hand of God’ at the post-match press conference.

“At first, I kept saying that I had headed it in. I don’t know, I was scared that since I was still in the stadium, they might disallow the goal. What did I know?

“In passing, I said to someone, ‘It was Maradona’s head and God’s hand’.”

Hodge exchanged shirts at the end, but other English players remain less forgiving.

“Shilton did get mad,” said Maradona. “He said, ‘I’m not going to invite Maradona to my testimonial. Ha! Who wants to go to a testimonial for a goalie?”

Four minutes later, Maradona ran more than half the length of the field, beat six England players, and scored the Goal of the Century. It was also the match-winner.

But his first goal, athletic, cunning, and illegal, remains more discussed.

“We shouldn’t forget that we were Argentinians, representatives of a country that rationalises with the word ‘exuberance’ what in other places is called cheating,” wrote Valdano.

Maradona remained unrepentant.

“Of course, it was not the Hand of God. It was me.

“I am not sorry for scoring with my hand. Not sorry at all!

“For me, it was like stealing from a thief.”

AFP