Brazilian great Pele led global tributes to Diego Maradona, whosr death was announced on Wednesday saying one day they would “play soccer together in the sky”.
Renowned for inspiring Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986, Maradona was most loved at club level for his spells with Boca Juniors in his homeland and Napoli in Italy, where he won the club’s only two Serie A titles.
Maradona is remembered for his masterly skill with the ball, , but he was also famous for his frequent lack of control on and off the field.
He struggled with addiction, notably to cocaine, and with his weight, in contrast to the more clean-cut image of three-time World Cup winner Pele.
“Sad news today. I have lost a dear friend, and the world has lost a legend,” Pele wrote on Instagram, alongside a picture of Maradona hoisting the World Cup trophy in 1986.
“There is much more to say, but for now may God give his family strength. One day, I hope, we will play soccer together in the sky.”
The pinnacle of Maradona’s playing career came in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final in Mexico City, where his two iconic goals, which reflected his larger-than-life character, condemned England to a 2-1 defeat.
For the first he punched the ball into the net for a goal he named the “Hand of God”, while for the second he showed incredible skill by dancing round the England team from inside his own half.
“By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time,” said Gary Lineker, who scored England’s goal in that match.
“After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God. #RipDiego.”
Maradona went on to have a far less successful coaching career, most notably leading Argentina at the 2010 World Cup, where a side containing Lionel Messi exited at the quarter-finals in a crushing 4-0 defeat to Germany.