Diego Maradona, the Argentine who became one of soccer’s greatest players with a died on Wednesday in Tigre, Argentina, in Buenos Aires Province. He was 60.
His spokesman, Sebastián Sanchi, said the cause was a heart attack. Maradona’s death came several weeks after he underwent brain surgery for a subdural hematoma, bleeding that collects in tissues surrounding the brain and can be caused by a head injury, New York Times reports.
The news of the death caused an immediate commotion in Argentina, becoming virtually the sole topic of conversation. The government declared three days of national mourning.
“You took us to the top of the world,” President Alberto Fernández said of Maradona on Twitter. “You made us immensely happy. You were the greatest of all.” The Brazilian soccer great Pelé tweeted, “I lost a great friend and the world lost a legend.”
Wearing the No. 10 jersey of a playmaker, Maradona led Argentina to soccer’s world championship in 1986, scoring one of the game’s most controversial goals and one of its most celebrated in the span of four minutes during the quarterfinals against England.
In 2000, he and Pele of Brazil were voted by FIFA, the soccer’s world governing body, the sport’s two greatest players. Yet while Pele’s legend grew into international reverence, Maradona’s ability to surprise and startle developed a darker edge as he became addicted to cocaine during his playing days in the 1980s.
His thick musculature having bloated into unhealthy corpulence, Maradona was hospitalized in Buenos Aires in April 2004 with what doctors described as a weakened heart and acute breathing problems. He then entered a psychiatric hospital there and, that September, left for further rehabilitation treatment in Havana.
His numerous health issues also included gastric bypass surgery to contain his weight and treatment for alcohol abuse. As a spectator at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Maradona appeared to collapse and was treated by paramedics as Argentina secured a dramatic late victory over Nigeria to advance to the second round of the tournament.
Speaking to an Argentine television channel in 2014, Maradona said, “Do you know the player I could have been if I hadn’t taken drugs?”
He continued: “I am 53 going on 78 because my life hasn’t been normal. I’ve lived 80 with the life I’ve gone through.”
Such was the complexity of Maradona’s personal life, according to news accounts, that he was the father of eight children, including two daughters with his wife at the time, Claudia Villafañe — they later divorced — and three children fathered while he was in Cuba undergoing treatment for his cocaine addiction. His survivors include those daughters, Dalma and Gianinna, as well as three children from other relationships: Diego Armando Maradona Sinagra, an Italian soccer player; Jana Maradona; and Dieguito Fernando Maradona.
Diego Armando Maradona was born Oct. 30, 1960, in Lanus, Argentina, and raised in the Buenos Aires shantytown Villa Fiorito, where he took up soccer on dusty streets with an urchin’s resourcefulness. By age 15, he had turned professional. He later starred with the European club powers Napoli and Barcelona and, in 2010, coached Argentina in the 2010 World Cup, held in South Africa.