Diego Maradona has passed away at the age of 60.
The Argentine football legend – one of the most colourful and controversial characters in the history of the game – suffered a cardiac arrest in his home in Tigre.
Maradona had only recently left hospital where he had undergone surgery on a blood clot in his brain.
The Argentinian Football Association announced on Wednesday evening that he had tragically passed away.
The AFA said: “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.”
One of the greatest players in football history, his death will be mourned far beyond his homeland, where he enjoyed god-like status.
A short and tenacious playmaker renowned for his incredible dribbling skills and ability to create something out of nothing for himself and his teammates, Maradona helped win titles at every club he played for in Argentina, Italy and Spain.
He played in four FIFA World Cups, including the 1986 World Cup in Mexico where he captained his nation to victory and won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player.
He also managed Argentina between 2008-2010, leading them at the 2010 World Cup.
No match encapsulates both his genius and madness as perfectly as the 1986 quarter-final against England.
Maradona showed the world he possessed those traits in both of his goals – arguably two of the most famous goals in football history.
His first came after he punched the ball over the despairing leap of Peter Shilton and into the back of the net.
Later declaring the goal as the ‘Hand of God’, Maradona even had the audacity and arrogance to celebrate the goal in front of the same linesman who failed to see the infringement.
His second was a work of art, rightly described as ‘The Goal of the Century’ as he slalomed through the English defence before slotting home.
While his genius with a ball was unquestionable, Maradona’s career was blighted by controversies on and off the field.
His international playing career ended in shame when he failed a drugs test at the 1994 World Cup in the United States and he was notorious for a wayward lifestyle throughout his life.
He was also banned from football in 1991 after testing positive for cocaine while playing for Napoli.
However, he remained a revered figure at the Italian club, where he won two Serie A titles.
He also played for Barcelona, Sevilla, Boca Juniors and Newell’s Old Boys and was most recently manager of Gimnasia y Esgrima in La Plata, Argentina.
Gary Lineker, who played in the England side in that 1986 quarter-final defeat, 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”
Football clubs around the world paid tribute to Maradona on social media, led by Barcelona and Napoli who shared pictures of their iconic former player.
Manchester City posted a photo of him embracing Sergio Aguero, adding: “We’re joining the footballing world in saying farewell to one of the absolute greats.”
And Liverpool tweeted: “A true great of the game. Rest in peace, Diego Maradona.”
Real Madrid – great rivals of one of Maradona’s former clubs, Barcelona – paid tribute to “one of the greatest players in all history”.
“Diego Armando Maradona leaves an immense legacy, which has become a myth for millions of fans around the world,” the club said in a statement.
England captain Harry Kane tweeted a picture of himself with Maradona at Spurs’ stadium, adding: “Privileged to have met him. Very sad news. RIP Diego Maradona.”
England’s offical Twitter account also posted a message, which read: “Farewell, Diego. A legend of our game.”
It is understood UEFA will hold a minute’s silence at all of Wednesday night’s Champions League matches in Maradona’s memory.
Reacting to his death on talkSPORT, South American football expert Tim Vickery outlined just how much he means to his nation.
He said: “You can tell the history of South American football through Diego Maradona. Firstly football is reintroduced by the British and then it’s reinterpreted by the South Americans.
“That benefitted that players especially with a low sense of gravity like Maradona, he was difficult to kick and boy people tried.
“That reinterpretation by the South Americans led to international triumphs and international recognition for a region of the world that is starved of those things.
“There’s so much of the history of South American football in Maradona.
“The heights that he touched in the 1986 World Cup, I’ve never seen anything like it – somebody being able to play at that level on the highest stage in those type of games.
“Maradona played his career during a time where the skilful players didn’t really get protection until after the 1990 World Cup.
“He played his football at a time not knowing if he was going to end up in hospital.
“I don’t think there’s any player who has ever displayed the courage that Maradona displayed week in, week out.”