…mourn, pay tributes to legend
. I hope we play in the sky, says Pele
…as NFF, Kanu, Oliseh, ex-Eagles express sadness
Throughout his brilliant but chequered football career, Diego Amando Maradona meant different thing to different people across the world, especially in the round leather game. To many, at some point, he was a priest in the temple of the god of the most popular sport, but to others he was just the enfant terrible of the game.
But whoever he really was and whatever he meant to different individuals and groups, Maradona has no doubt left his indelible footprints on the sand of time in the game of football and he remains a legend forever. With his demise, his deeds will be interred in the global history of football.
Since the football legend took his last breath on Wednesday at the age of 60, stars in the round leather game, though mourning, have continued to pay glowing tributes to the late great global sport personality.
Shocking demise of the sexagenarian football great occurred after undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain early November. Argentine Football Association confirmed his death in a statement.
Renowned as one of the greatest footballers of all time, Maradona, who was the Argentine World Cup-winning captain, died of a heart attack, according to a member of his entourage.
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez has already announced three days of national mourning in the South American country.
But a few hours after his death, tributes have continued to pour in from football stars, associations, administrators and clubs.
Among them are retired Brazilian football great Pele, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Micheal Owen, FIFA, Napoli, Arsenal, and England.
Eighty-year-old Pele tweeted in Portuguese, “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 football together in the sky.”
Ronaldo, on his part, also tweeted in Portuguese alongside a picture of him and Maradona, “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.”
England described Maradona as “unforgettable,” tweeting, “Farewell, Diego. A legend of our game.”
PSG star, Mbappe said Maradona would remain in football history forever.
He tweeted, “RIP Legend. You will stay in the history of football forever. Thank you for all the pleasure you gave to the whole world.”
Michael Owen stated, “Quite simply – a player like no other. Rest In Peace Diego Maradona.”
Tottenham’s striker, Harry Kane, said, “Privileged to have met him. Very sad news. RIP Diego Maradona.”
Paying tribute to Maradona, Lionel Messi described him as “eternal.”
Messi wrote on Instagram, “A very sad day for all Argentines and football.
“He has left us but he will never leave us because Diego is eternal. I will keep all the beautiful moments that I lived with him and would like to send my condolences to all his family and friends. RIP.”
Mesut Özil, too, wrote, “Very sad news. One of the best No. 10 in the world of football has ever seen has passed away. You will be missed, legend.”
Argentina Football Association and its president Claudio Tapia expressed “deep grief” after learning of the sad news of Diego Maradona’s death.
The Argentine national team’s official Twitter account confirmed the news on Wednesday, paying tribute to one of the nation’s favourite footballing sons.
“You will be eternal in every heart of the football world,” the message stated as it bade farewell to the superstar.
Back in Nigeria, the country’s Football Federation and former Super Eagles players also expressed shock and sadness over the sudden death of Maradona.
Kanu Nwankwo, who shared pictures of their recent encounter, said Maradona had paid his dues in world football.
Kanu on his verified Tweeter handle @papilokanu tweeted, “KAN U believe it? Do the best you can when you can. Throwback to me and Maradona World Cup @fifaworldcup what KAN U say? The greatest the best and like him or hate him he gave all to football @legends
“R.I.P Diego Armando Maradona, your memory will live on forever.”
NFF described Maradona as an inimitable football legend.
It tweeted, “@TheNFF and the entire Nigeria Football family commiserate with the @afa, the people of Argentina and the football world over the death today, 25 November 2020, of inimitable football legend, Diego Armando Maradona. May his soul rest in peace.”
Sunday Oliseh, who played against Maradona in the group stage of the 1994 World Cup, expressed pain “in a strange way.”
According to Oliseh, “Sad day not just for football but for mankind as we lose arguably the best player ever to play football. Somehow Diego’s death pains me in a strange kind of way, I can’t seem to understand right now. “May his blessed soul rest in peace.”
Adepoju who also faced Maradona in the second half at the 1994 World Cup between Nigeria and Argentina added, ”Legends don’t die. They only take a rest. Rip Maradona.”
”Rest In Peace Maradona,” Victor Ikpeba, who was an unused substitute for the Eagles in the game also tweeted.
Reports revealed that Argentine football legend Maradona passed away at the age of 60 after suffering a heart attack.
The Gimnasia coach had been hospitalised at the start of November, days after celebrating the landmark birthday, after complaining of low spirits and fatigue.
Tests at the La Plata clinic revealed a blood clot on the brain, which doctors later revealed was operated on successfully.
Maradona was subsequently released from hospital as an outpatient to continue his convalescence, which he carried out in his dwelling in a private neighbourhood near Tigre, northern Buenos Aires.
But on Wednesday morning he suffered cardiac arrest, and paramedics at the scene failed to revive him.
Maradona began his professional career with Argentinos Juniors at the age of 16 and went on to be considered one of the greatest players ever to step onto a football field.
The diminutive left-footed forward went on to represent Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell’s Old Boys as a player, and the likes of Racing Club, Dorados, Gimnasia and the Argentina national team later as a coach.
It was with the Albiceleste, though, that his name was immortalised.
Maradona was instrumental in taking Argentina to their second World Cup triumph in 1986, captaining the team that prevailed over West Germany in the final under the stewardship of Carlos Bilardo.
He scored five goals over the course of the tournament to finish second behind England’s Gary Lineker in the top scorer rankings, with the pair meeting in a quarter-final match which has entered the annals as perhaps the most iconic, and certainly most controversial, in the World Cup’s 90-year history.
The Argentina No.10 scored twice to take down England in a 2-1 victory, the first goal scored with his infamous ‘Hand of God’ and the second after dribbling around several opponents in what would soon be dubbed the ‘Goal of the Century’.
Maradona also helped his nation reach a second consecutive World Cup final four years later, only to fall to West Germany.