Diego Maradona, widely regarded as one of the greatest soccer players of all time before drug and alcohol addiction marred his career, died at his home in Argentina after suffering a heart attack, his lawyer said. He was 60.
Beloved in his homeland after leading Argentina to win the 1986 World Cup and adored in Italy after taking Napoli to two Serie A titles, Maradona was a uniquely gifted player and charismatic figure.
Maradona had recently battled health issues and underwent emergency surgery for a subdural haematoma several weeks ago.
He suffered a heart attack at his home in the outskirts of Buenos Aires on Wednesday, acquaintances of the former player said. His death was confirmed by his lawyer.
In Buenos Aires, people began pouring onto the streets to mourn the nation's favourite son, gathering in the San Andres neighbourhood where he lived and also in La Plata where he had lately been technical director for local team Gimnasia y Esgrima.
The Argentine government has declared three days of mourning. President Alberto Fernandez said in a tweet, "You took us to the highest point in the world, and made us immensely happy. You were the greatest of all. Thank you for having been with us, Diego. We will miss you all our lives."
Pele, the Brazilian footballer who is considered the only player to have come close to Maradona's skill level, was among those quick to pay tribute to the Argentine.
"Certainly, one day we'll kick a ball together in the sky above," he said in a brief statement provided to Reuters by a representative.
At club level, Maradona broke on to the scene with Buenos Aires' Boca Juniors before playing in Spain with Barcelona. He was idolised in Italy after leading Napoli to their first ever Italian league title in 1987.
He ended his playing career back in Argentina, returning to Boca. He had a brief and controversy-packed spell as Argentine national team coach from 2008 to 2010 before coaching in the Middle East and Mexico.
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