Argentine football legend Diego Maradona has died at the age of 60, his spokesman announced Wednesday. President Alberto Fernandez immediately announced three days of national mourning in the South American country.
Diego Maradona: What was the cause of his death?
Renowned along with Brazil’s Pele as one of the greatest footballers of all time, 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.
Shortly before the announcement that shocked a nation, Argentine media reported Maradona had suffered a serious health setback on Wednesday and was being treated by doctors at his home north of Buenos Aires.
Diego Maradona Obituary: A flawed genius departs
Diego Armando Maradona was born on October 30, 1960, in Lanus, just outside Buenos Aires, and grew up in one of the poorest areas of the Argentine capital. He made his debut for Argentina at age 16 in February 1977.
Maradona was short, powerful and quick. He was also a ferocious and astute competitor who refused to be intimidated even though many opponents tried. Above all, he was sublimely and imaginatively skilful.
However, while Maradona is remembered for his masterly composure on the ball, he was also famous for his frequent lack of control both on the field and off. He struggled with addiction, notably to cocaine.
Accolades, achievements, and notable moments
His senior World Cup debut in 1982 in Spain went badly. Maradona was treated brutally by defenders and ended his tournament with a red card for retaliation as Argentina, already eliminated, lost to Brazil. He atoned four years later, propelling his country to victory in Mexico and making the tournament his own.
In the final, Maradona set up the 86th-minute winner against West Germany. He scored twice in the semi-final against Belgium, beating four defenders for the second. But the match that defined his tournament, and possibly his international career, was the 2-1 quarter-final win over England, in which he scored two goals that will be remembered forever.
The best there ever was?
In 2000, FIFA ran an online Player of the Century poll. Maradona gained 54% of the vote, outscoring Pele by three votes to one from the thousands of ballots cast.
Maradona married his long-time girlfriend Claudia Villafane in 1984. They had two daughters, Dalma and Gianinna, and divorced in 2004. He also had a son, Diego Junior, born in Naples in 1986