Mourners to visit Diego Maradona’s body as Argentina grieves

A man pays tribute at a vigil to Maradona
Argentina has been plunged into mourning after the loss of their favourite sporting son

A million people are expected to pay their respects to the Argentine football legend Diego Maradona in the presidential palace in Buenos Aires. Three days of national mourning have begun in Argentina after Maradona died following a heart attack on Wednesday, his body has been taken to Casa Rosada, where it will be put on display for fans.

One of the greatest football players of all time, Maradona is a national hero in his home country. He was 60, officials have been rushing to install cordons and other measures to try to limit the spread of coronavirus, with big crowds already gathering outside the presidential palace. Late into the night, a sea of people in Argentina shirts thronged the streets to mourn Maradona’s death, and celebrate his life. Maradona, who played for clubs including Barcelona and Napoli, was captain when Argentina won the 1986 World Cup, scoring the famous “Hand of God” goal against England in the quarter-finals.

People gather outside the Casa Rosada presidential palace ahead of the wake of soccer legend Diego Maradona, in Buenos Aires, Argentina
The government says it expects a million people to visit Maradona’s body at the presidential palace

Former Tottenham midfielder Ossie Ardiles, who played alongside Maradona at the 1982 World Cup, said he was “a god” in Argentina, in Naples and all around the world. “He will be remembered as a genius in football,” he told reporters. “You can see the extra-ordinary amount of interest that he generates.” Argentina and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi led tributes to Maradona, writing on social media: “He has left us but he will never leave us because Diego is eternal.”

Maradona had an illustrious career, winning league titles and a World Cup with Argentina

A post-mortem examination was due to take place on Maradona’s body on Wednesday, the former Argentina attacking midfielder and manager died at his home in Tigre, near Buenos Aires. He had successful surgery on a brain blood clot earlier in November and was to be treated for alcohol dependency.

The coffin holding the body of soccer legend Diego Maradona arrives at the Casa Rosada presidential palace
The coffin holding the body of Maradona has been taken to the Casa Rosada presidential palace

At 22:00 on Wednesday (01:00 GMT) – an hour chosen to match the number on his shirt – stadiums across Argentina switched on their floodlights to honour his memory. A minute’s silence took place before Wednesday’s Champions League matches and the same will happen before all other European fixtures this week.

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