The footballing world was plunged into shock and sadness as news emerged that Diego Maradona died of a heart attack on Wednesday. Diego Maradona had died after suffering a heart attack at his home in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, Reuters reported.Maradona, 60, had recently battled health issues and underwent emergency surgery for a subdural haematoma several weeks ago. The former Argentina attacking midfielder and manager is widely reckoned as the greatest player of all time. He was largely responsible for Argentina’s World Cup victory in 1986 in Mexico, scoring two famous goals in one game against England in the quarter-finals.
Shashi Tharoor, the Lok Sabha MP, led the tributes when he posted an emotional tribute of Diego Maradona on his Twitter handle stating that, “God has reclaimed his hand.” It was a play on that infamous or legendary ‘Hand of God’ goal which he scored against England in the 1986 World Cup.
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) November 25, 2020
In Argentina, he was worshipped as ‘El Dios’ – The God – partly a play on words on his number 10 shirt, ‘El Diez.’ In his hometown of Rosario, there is a church named in honour of Diego Maradona called Iglesia Maradoniana which has been built by some of his hard-core fans.
My hero no more ..my mad genius rest in peace ..I watched football for you.. pic.twitter.com/JhqFffD2vr
— Sourav Ganguly (@SGanguly99) November 25, 2020
BCCI president and former India cricket team captain Sourav Ganguly also expressed sadness that his hero was no more, sharing a picture of him with Diego Maradona some years ago.
#Maradona‘s 2012 visit to Kerala’s Kannur. What we saw that day – showed just how much people loved him. The massive crowd of thousands, the constant, loud, electrifying cheering, his magical moves, his “I love India, Kerala”, singing, cake cutting before his 52nd birthday…pic.twitter.com/F60uzOnmrx
— Sneha Koshy (@SnehaMKoshy) November 25, 2020
The religion is so entrenched that even time spans are named after Diego Maradona. For example, the birth of time begins from October 30, 1960, the day Maradona was born. Thus, the year is 60 AD (After Diego) for people who come to the church. The Iglesia was founded on October 30 in the city of Rosario, Argentina by three fans (Héctor Campomar, Alejandro Verón and Hernan Amez). It is seen as a syncretism or as a religion and not exactly a cult. One of the founders, Alejandro Veron said: “I have a rational religion, and that’s Catholic Church, and I have a religion passed on my heart, passion, and that’s Diego Maradona.”
When Diego Maradona visited India…
We will miss you! pic.twitter.com/pofZqAvBQy
— Goal India (@Goal_India) November 25, 2020
In a 2008 article in The Guardian, the Church of Maradona released their version of the 10 commandments which imbibed football and the personality of Maradona. Its stated, “The ball is never soiled, Love football above all else, Declare unconditional love for Diego and the beauty of football, Defend the Argentina shirt, Spread the news of Diego’s miracles throughout the universe, Honor the temples where he played and his sacred shirts, Don’t proclaim Diego as a member of any single team, Preach and spread the principles of the Church of Maradona, Make Diego your middle name and name your first son Diego, Don’t live estranged from reality and don’t be useless.
An icon who transcended borders and generations, one of the greatest football legends of all time. Diego #Maradona has had a profound impact on the lives of millions of fans & followers across the world.
We bid farewell to this legend today. pic.twitter.com/0Fux6wzMWB
— Congress (@INCIndia) November 25, 2020
Stellar international career
In his international career with Argentina, Maradona earned 91 caps and scored 34 goals. Maradona played in four FIFA World Cups, including the 1986 World Cup in Mexico where he captained Argentina and led them to victory over West Germany in the final, and won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player. In the 1986 World Cup quarter final, he scored both goals in a 2–1 victory over England that entered football history for two different reasons. The first goal was an unpenalized handling foul known as the “Hand of God”, while the second goal followed a 60 meter dribble past five England players, voted “Goal of the Century” by FIFA.com voters in 2002.
Earlier this year on a trip to #Kolkata I drove past a statue of #Maradona. #Maradona visited #India in 2017 for the unveiling. Many questioned its likeness, but it was testament to his popularity in #India. #RIPMaradona. pic.twitter.com/ao6yk9lgLf
— Rajini Vaidyanathan (@BBCRajiniV) November 25, 2020
The Argentinian was the first player in football history to set the world record transfer fee twice, first when he transferred to Barcelona for a then world record GBP 5 million, and second, when he transferred to Napoli for another record fee GBP 6.9 million. He played for Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell’s Old Boys during his club career, and is most famous for his time at Napoli and Barcelona where he won numerous accolades.
“El Pibe de Oro” no more !
Diego Maradona, the football legend left us today. An inspiration to every young girl and boy, his presence and leadership on the field shall always be cherished !
Rest in Peace. pic.twitter.com/byBDZSOnHb
— All India Mahila Congress (@MahilaCongress) November 25, 2020
Diego Maradona had a deep connection with India and his death is a major shock for millions of football lovers in India.