Rafa Nadal leads global sporting tributes to Diego Maradona

Pictured here, tennis great Rafa Nadal and football legend Diego Maradona.
Rafa Nadal is just one of countless sporting stars to pay tribute to Diego Maradona after his tragic death. Pic: Getty

Diego Maradona's tragic death has rocked the world of football, but his loss is being felt right across the sporting world.

The legendary Argentinian 1986 World Cup winner died aged 60 of a heart attack in his home on the outskirts of the capital Buenos Aires.

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A controversial but incomparably talented figure, Maradona's genius was celebrated around the world.

In the tennis world, Rafael Nadal led tributes to Maradona, describing him as “one of the greatest athletes in history.”

“Today the world of sport in general and football in particular has a void,” Nadal tweeted.

“Maradona was one of the greatest athletes in history.

“What he did in football remains.

“My sincere and heartfelt thoughts go out to his family, the world of football and all of Argentina.”

Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro also paid his respects to the little maestro in a poignant social media post.

“I feel that you return to the place that belongs to you, HEAVEN. You will never die for me. Rest in peace,” Del Potro tweeted alongside a video of the pair enjoying a hit of tennis together.

Fellow Argentinian tennis icon David Nalbandian also left several tributes to Maradona on social media.

The retired Argentinian tennis star posted a video showing the silky footballing skills that made his compatriot a God-like figure in his homeland and around the world.

The legacy Maradona left on the world sporting stage was respected by so many professional athletes outside of football.

Boxing great Mike Tyson described Maradona as "one of his heroes" and NBA Hall of Famer Earvin 'Magic' Johnson admitted that meeting Maradona was one of the best moments of his life.

Football world pays respects to a legend

Understandably though, the most overwhelming flow of tributes have been streaming in from across the footballing world.

From fellow Argentinian maestro Lionel Messi, to other football superstars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane and England rival Gary Lineker - who played against him during the infamous 'Hand of God' game at the 1986 World Cup - praise for Maradona has been universal.

"By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time," Lineker tweeted.

"After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully he'll finally find some comfort in the hands of God. #RipDiego"

"It is a very sad day for all Argentines and football, Messi posted on Instagram.

"He leaves us but he does not go because he is eternal. I am left with many of the nice moments we shared and I want to send my condolences to all his family and friends."

Brazilian legend Pele - regarded alongside Maradona as one of the finest footballers of all time - said the world had "lost a legend".

"Sad news today. I have lost a dear friend, and the world has lost a legend. 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."

Former Brazil, Barcelona and Real Madrid striker Ronaldo said Maradona's influence on his own career was enormous.

"Our sport lost one of its biggest idols. I lost a great friend, whose talent inspired me from the time I was a boy," Ronaldo said.

"I'm in shock that he's gone, but grateful that our paths crossed in life. El Pibe, your legacy is eternal. Your magic on the pitch will never be forgotten."

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