Devastating scenes around the world after death of Diego Maradona

Mourners around the world, pictured here after the death of Diego Maradona.
Heartbreaking scenes around the world after death of Diego Maradona. Image: Getty

A minute’s silence was held before Champions League games on Wednesday after the tragic death of football legend Diego Maradona.

The Copa Libertadores game between Maradona’s former club Boca Juniors and Brazil's Internacional was postponed following the news that Boca’s favourite son had passed away following a heart attack.

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The minute’s silence was first held in the two early Champions League matches between Olympiacos and Manchester City in Athens, and Borussia Monchengladbach against Shakhtar Donetsk in Gladbach, after instructions from UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.

“I was in touch recently to wish Diego well, and this news comes as a considerable shock to me,” Ceferin said.

“He achieved greatness as a wonderful player with a genius and charisma of his own.”

Maradona’s spokesman, Sebastian Sanchi, said the former World Cup winner died of a heart attack, two weeks after being released from a hospital in Buenos Aires following brain surgery.

South America’s governing soccer body CONMEBOL said the decision to call off the Copa Libertadores game was made because of Maradona's “close connection with the Argentine club” Boca.

He played there between 1981-82 and returned in 1995 to see out the last years of his career.

The first leg of the round-of-16 game in Porto Alegre, in Southern Brazil, will instead be played on December 2.

Champions League players, pictured here during a minute's silence.
Players stop for a minute's silence prior to the UEFA Champions League match between Ajax Amsterdam and FC Midtjylland. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Three days of mourning in Argentina

Lionel Messi, the player so often considered to be a successor to Maradona as an Argentine who became the world's best, has led his country’s tributes to the great 'El Diego’.

Messi, who like Maradona was blessed with a wand of a left foot, expressed his sorrow from Barcelona on social media, saying: “A very sad day for all Argentines and football.

“He leaves us but does not leave, because Diego is eternal. I take all the good moments lived with him and send condolences to all his family and friends. RIP.”

Maradona died four years to the day after one of his political heroes, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, and 15 years to the day after another troubled but talented football folk hero, George Best.

An Argentinian man, pictured here wearing a Maradona t-shirt in tribute.
A man wears a Maradona t-shirt in tribute. (Photo by Yelena Kondratyeva\TASS via Getty Images)

His unmatched status as an Argentine hero - even Messi has never received the worship in the country that Maradona always captured - was quickly in evidence as his compatriots took to the streets to remember him.

In Buenos Aires, people began pouring into the San Andres neighbourhood where he lived and also into La Plata where he had lately been technical director for local team Gimnasia y Esgrima.

The Argentine government has declared three days of mourning, with the president Alberto Fernandez saying in a tweet, “You took us to the highest point in the world, and made us immensely happy.

“You were the greatest of all. Thank you for having been with us, Diego. We will miss you all our lives.”

In Argentina, he has long been worshipped as ‘El Dios’ - The God.

In the Buenos Aires suburb of Villa Crespo, the song “La Mano de Dios” by folk singer Rodrigo Bueno rang out from a balcony, a reference to the legendary goal Maradona scored with his hand against England in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

Argentinians, pictured here outside the gated community where Diego Maradona lived.
People mourn outside the gated community where Diego Maradona lived. (Photo by RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

with AAP

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