Rafa Nadal leads global sporting tributes to Diego Maradona
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.”
Hoy el mundo del deporte en general y el fútbol en particular tiene un vacío. Se nos fue #Maradona uno de los deportistas mas grandes de la historia. Queda lo que hizo en el fútbol. Mi mas sincero y sentido pésame a su familia, al mundo del fútbol y a toda la Argentina 🇦🇷
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) November 25, 2020
“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.
"For Argentinian people, Maradona is like another God" - @delpotrojuan
RIP Diego Maradona 💙 pic.twitter.com/xN6vxUWObc
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) November 25, 2020
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.
Así y levantando la Copa del Mundo te voy a recordar siempre. Nunca te voy a olvidar, Diego. Sos eterno.
— David Nalbandian (@nalbandiandavid) November 25, 2020
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.
The Hand of God, Maradona has left us. In 86 we both won our championships. They use to compare the two of us. He was one of my hero’s and a friend. I respected him so much. He will be greatly missed. pic.twitter.com/E5j6DSfJas
— Mike Tyson (@MikeTyson) November 25, 2020
The world lost one of the greatest soccer players that ever lived Diego Maradona. It was one of the thrills of my life when I got to meet him. Rest In Peace my friend and my prayers go out to his family. 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/SgQvij7a72
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 25, 2020
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"
Cristiano Ronaldo posted a tribute on social media to his late friend Diego Maradona 🙏 pic.twitter.com/TaTESVRsjT
— ESPN (@espn) November 25, 2020
Privileged to have met him. Very sad news. RIP Diego Maradona. pic.twitter.com/x2LcIeQPqr
— Harry Kane (@HKane) November 25, 2020
"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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