The greatest footballer to ever live has passed away. According to multiple reports out of South America, the 5’5 colossus who served as one of the most magnetic athletes of all-time due to his brilliance on the pitch and his penchant for being in the public eye off of it, died on Wednesday morning. He was 60 years old.
BREAKING NEWS: Morre Diego Maradona pic.twitter.com/QiOyPkqWoX
— CNN Brasil (@CNNBrasil) November 25, 2020
BUENOS AIRES (AP) – AP Source: Diego Maradona, world soccer legend, has passed away.
— David Mack (@davidmackau) November 25, 2020
The report was confirmed by ESPN, while The Daily Mail reports the cause of death was a cardiac arrest. Argentina’s national soccer team, along with S.S.C. Napoli, paid homage to Maradona with a tweet.
Hasta siempre, Diego.
— Selección Argentina 🇦🇷 (@Argentina) November 25, 2020
Per Sempre 💙
Ciao Diego pic.twitter.com/LzppqlBqLV
— Official SSC Napoli (@sscnapoli) November 25, 2020
Maradona’s career as a footballer — which spanned from 1976 to 1997 and included pit stops in Argentina, Spain, and Italy — is nigh unparalleled. As an attacking midfielder, Maradona was revered for his ability to produce moments of magic with the ball at his feet, often possessing a gravity no one else could even begin to replicate despite oftentimes being the smallest man on the field. As a club player, he was most well-known for his time with Italian side Napoli, where El Pibe de Oro (The Golden Boy) helped the side win Serie A for the only two times in its history.
With his national team, Maradona was instrumental in Argentina winning the 1986 World Cup, a tournament in which he won the Golden Ball for being the best players. His name still strikes fear in the hearts of English supporters who watched him almost single-handedly topple the Three Lions in the quarterfinals with perhaps the two most famous goals in World Cup history — the controversial “Hand of God,” in which Maradona used his left hand to punch the ball past the keeper, and the moment known as the Goal of the Century, a slaloming run through midfield in which Maradona’s greatness was put on full display.
His exploits off the field, where he was known for a cocaine addiction and a reputation for being a party animal who occasionally indulged in a lavish lifestyle, was as much a part of his legacy as what he did as a player. Despite this, he was known for being a man of the people, both as a player and as an advocate for the poor — he once famously criticized the Pope after visiting the Vatican, saying “I argued with him because I’ve been to the Vatican and seen the gold ceilings. And then I hear the Pope saying that the Church was concerned about poor kids. So? Sell the ceilings, mate! Do something!”
Following the end of his playing career, Maradona, transitioned into managing, which included a stint as the manager of Argentina’s national team. Most recently, he served as the manager of Argentine club Gimnasia.