ENTERTAINMENT

Diego Maradona's coffin arrives at the Argentine President's villa


Mourning football fans clashed with the police as they lined up to pay their respects to Diego Maradona's coffin today – advocating the Argentine legend, they accused medics of “criminal idiocy” over his death.

Thousands came to bid farewell to their hero at the Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires, where Maradona's coffin lies in a state after he died of a heart attack at the age of 60 on Wednesday.

Brawls broke out as fans rushed to come in and see the coffin covered with an Argentine flag and Maradona's signature number 10 jersey after arriving in an ambulance this morning.

A long line of mourners streamed past Maradona's body on the first of three days of national mourning in Argentina, clapping, pumping their fists and throwing flowers, flags and soccer jerseys at the base of the coffin.

Regarded by some as the greatest player of all time, Maradona combines great football skills with a flair for showmanship and a tumultuous personal life marked by drug and alcohol problems.

Attorney Matias Morla claimed today that Maradona was unaided for 12 hours before his death on Wednesday, two weeks after undergoing brain surgery to remove a blood clot.

"It is inexplicable that for 12 hours my friend had no attention or control from the staff dedicated to these purposes," he said.

Morla also claimed it was "criminal idiocy" that it took an ambulance 30 minutes to arrive and swore that the circumstances in which Maradona died would be "investigated to the end".

Face to Face: Thousands of mourners gathered at the Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires today to see Diego Maradona's coffin – but there was brawl as people rushed to come in and see their hero

Riot police hold up their shields as Maradona fans lift a metal barrier near the Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires today

Riot police hold up their shields as Maradona fans lift a metal barrier near the Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires today

Riot police are trying to keep order while Maradona fans - some of them wearing the colors of his former team Boca Juniors - enter the presidential palace and see his coffin ahead of his funeral on Thursday

Riot police are trying to keep order while Maradona fans – some of them wearing the colors of his former team Boca Juniors – enter the presidential palace and see his coffin ahead of his funeral on Thursday

A soccer fan holds up the colors of Argentina that Maradona wears so often when he joins the public mourning the death of the soccer player in Buenos Aires today

A soccer fan holds up the colors of Argentina that Maradona wears so often when he joins the public mourning the death of the soccer player in Buenos Aires today

To see: Mourners left flowers, soccer jerseys and flags at the foot of Maradona's coffin as they passed the Presidential Palace, where he is in the state on the first of three days of national mourning in Argentina

To see: Mourners left flowers, soccer jerseys and flags at the foot of Maradona's coffin as they passed the Presidential Palace, where he is in the state on the first of three days of national mourning in Argentina

Public procession: flags, flowers and soccer jerseys are thrown at the base of Maradona's coffin as thousands of mourners pass by the coffin to pay their final respects to Argentina's greatest soccer hero

Public procession: flags, flowers and soccer jerseys are thrown at the base of Maradona's coffin as thousands of mourners pass by the coffin to pay their final respects to Argentina's greatest soccer hero

People stood in front of the building until late in the afternoon to pay their respects to Maradona, who was to be buried later Thursday in the same cemetery as his parents

Diego Maradona's coffin is lifted from an ambulance and taken to the presidential palace at Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires in the early hours of the morning after the football legend died on Wednesday at the age of 60

Diego Maradona's coffin is lifted from an ambulance and taken to the presidential palace at Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires in the early hours of the morning after the football legend died on Wednesday at the age of 60

Mourners embrace as they wait to see Maradona's coffin in the Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires Thursday morning

Mourners embrace as they wait to see Maradona's coffin in the Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires Thursday morning

A fan wearing an Argentine jersey in honor of Maradona cries at a meeting outside Diego Armando Maradona Stadium in Buenos Aires, where the football legend began his career as a young player

A fan wearing an Argentine jersey in honor of Maradona cries at a meeting outside Diego Armando Maradona Stadium in Buenos Aires, where the football legend began his career as a young player

Supporters of rival Argentine teams River Plate and Boca Juniors embrace as they wait to enter the Presidential Palace to see the coffin of a man revered in the country in 1986 as the captain of a World Cup winning team

Supporters of rival Argentine teams River Plate and Boca Juniors embrace as they wait to enter the Presidential Palace to see the coffin of a man revered in the country in 1986 as the captain of a World Cup winning team

Maradona and attorney Matias Morla, who today claimed the football legend went without help for 12 hours before he died

Maradona and attorney Matias Morla, who today claimed the football legend went without help for 12 hours before he died

Maradona's family and closest friends arrived at dawn, before the public wake up, before the brawl broke out, as crowds rushed to enter and police had to hold people back.

The coffin procession took place just a few hours before the burial of Maradona on the outskirts of Buenos Aires in the same cemetery in the Jardin de Paz where his parents were buried.

“For me, Maradona is the best thing that has happened to me in life. I love him as much as I love my father, and it's like my old man died. “Cristian Montelli, 22, one of the mourners in today's palace.

Others gathered outside the Buenos Aires stadium, where Maradona began his career and has since been renamed in his honor, last night, and erected a makeshift shrine to celebrate the legendary World Cup winner.

Public grief comes despite the coronavirus pandemic that has sickened more than a million people in Argentina.

“You have to be here. There was no way this would happen. It's kind of like Maradona breaking the rules, too, ”said Marcelo Gades, a 52-year-old mourner.

"Argentina is Maradona and Maradona is Argentina, with all the good and all the bad."

Maradona's death was also heavily felt in Europe, particularly in Naples, where it led an unfashionable team to two Italian championship titles and where fans gave torches in tribute outside the stadium last night.

In Great Britain, where he is best remembered for his 1986 Hand of God goal against England – an act of bold cheating that was followed just minutes later by one of the biggest goals in football history – there was a minute's silence in front of Liverpool's champions League game on Wednesday evening.

An autopsy report leaked to the Argentine media said Maradona died in his sleep after suffering from heart failure just two weeks after leaving the hospital after brain surgery.

Medical professionals also discovered advanced cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart muscle weakens and enlarges and cannot pump enough blood to the rest of the body.

His nephew, Johnny Esposito, was the last to see him alive, according to the leaked report, before doctors went to his property with an appointment for his visit on Wednesday and found he was unresponsive.

An aerial view of people queuing on Avenida de Mayo to reach the presidential villa on Thursday

An aerial view of people queuing on Avenida de Mayo to reach the presidential villa on Thursday

A banner of Maradona's face in the colors of his former club Boca Juniors is carried in the queue outside Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires today

A banner of Maradona's face in the colors of his former club Boca Juniors is carried in the queue outside Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires today

There were brief brawls near the Presidential Palace today as crowds thronged and police had to hold people back

There were brief brawls near the Presidential Palace today as crowds thronged and police had to hold people back

The Argentine police hold up their shields to fend off troubled football fans who want to enter the government building

The Argentine police hold up their shields to fend off troubled football fans who want to enter the government building

An argument broke out in Buenos Aires when, despite the coronavirus outbreak, thousands of fans arrived to see the coffin

An argument broke out in Buenos Aires when, despite the coronavirus outbreak, thousands of fans arrived to see the coffin

A mourner touches a police officer's shield as people line up to see Maradona's coffin after his sudden death

A mourner touches a police officer's shield as people line up to see Maradona's coffin after his sudden death

Football fans were in tears as they walked out of the presidential palace after seeing Maradona's coffin before the player's funeral

Football fans were in tears as they walked out of the presidential palace after seeing Maradona's coffin before the player's funeral

Mourning fans let go of torches at Argentinos Juniors Stadium, where Maradona began his professional career in the 1970s

Mourning fans let go of torches at Argentinos Juniors Stadium, where Maradona began his professional career in the 1970s

Football foundations surround the hearse that carries Diego Maradona's coffin to an undertaker in Buenos Aires on Wednesday

Football foundations surround the hearse that carries Diego Maradona's coffin to an undertaker in Buenos Aires on Wednesday

Maradona's finest hour: winning the World Cup after Argentina was inspired to win the 1986 final against West Germany. In the quarter-finals against England, Maradona scored two of the most famous goals of the 20th century - the "Hand of God" followed by the "Goal of the Century".

Maradona's finest hour: winning the World Cup after Argentina was inspired to win the 1986 final against West Germany. In the quarter-finals against England, Maradona scored two of the most famous goals of the 20th century – the "Hand of God" followed by the "Goal of the Century".

LAST PICTURE: Maradona's death comes just three weeks after an operation on a blood clot in his brain (picture) and less than a month after he was 60 years old

LAST PICTURE: Maradona's death comes just three weeks after an operation on a blood clot in his brain (picture) and less than a month after he was 60 years old

"God is dead": the world media cites tributes

Maradona's face dominated the backs – and many front pages – of world newspapers this morning after the football legend died in Argentina.

Based on his most famous sentence, many headlines spoke of Maradona being in the "hands of God" – or that the man was a deity in his own right.

The French sports magazine L & # 39; Equipe had a full-page cover of Maradona with the headline: "God is dead".

Others, including Spanish newspaper AS, combined his number 10 shirt with the Spanish word for God to form the word D10S – or, alternatively, used the word goodbye to make AD10S.

The image of Maradona's greatest triumph, winning the 1986 World Cup with Argentina, was also a dominant topic, while some Spanish newspapers highlighted its magic in Barcelona.

The Spanish newspaper Marca also ran a touching quote from Maradona that read: “If I am born again, I want to be a footballer. And I want to be Diego Armando Maradona again. I'm a player who made people happy and that's enough for me. & # 39;

The front page of L & # 39; Equipe on Thursday pays tribute to Maradona with "God is dead" on the front

The front page of L & # 39; Equipe on Thursday pays tribute to Maradona with "God is dead" on the front

Argentine President Alberto Fernandez has declared three days of mourning.

“You brought us to the top of the world. You made us very happy. You were the greatest of them all, ”said the President. “Thank you for existing, Diego. We will miss you for a lifetime. & # 39;

The Argentine Pope Francis also paid tribute to a man he had met several times in the Vatican, while the Vatican official media dubbed Maradona the "poet of football".

"The Pope has been informed of the death of Diego Maradona, he remembers with fondness the times he met him in recent years and he remembers him in his prayers," said a spokesman.

Maradona is survived by five children, including his daughters Dalma (33) and Ganina (31), by his first and only wife Claudia Villafane (58), with whom he was married from 1984 to 2004.

He had his youngest son Diego Fernando with his longtime girlfriend Veronica Ojeda in 2013, while in the last five years he only recognized Diego Junior (34) and daughter Jana (23), both of whom were born after short flights.

Paramedics made an unsuccessful attempt to resuscitate him after arriving at the rented house in the San Andres residential complex, north of Buenos Aires, to which he had moved after his surgery on November 11 after leaving the hospital.

Prosecutor John Broyad spoke to San Andres when the body was taken to a nearby morgue: “Diego Armando Maradona died around noon local time. The forensic police started their work at 4 p.m.

“No evidence of crime or violence was found. The autopsy is done to determine the cause of death beyond any doubt, but we can say at this point that everything points to natural causes. & # 39;

Family members were called to Maradona's home north of the Argentine capital before his death was announced.

Maradona, who turned 60 on October 30th, wrote the message during his lifetime that he wanted to engrave on his tombstone.

The football legend gave an interview 15 years ago in which he revealed that "growing old with his grandchildren would mean a peaceful death for him".

When asked what he would say to himself in the cemetery, he said, “Thank you for playing football because it is the sport that has given me the most happiness and freedom, and it is like I have touched the sky with my hand Thanks to the ball.

"Yes, I would put the tombstone on," Thanks to the ball. "

A hearse carrying Maradona's body was escorted to the medical examiner's office by police as fans lined the surrounding streets to catch a glimpse on Wednesday afternoon.

Thousands of fans later flocked to the streets in Argentina, many at the entrance to the football club in Buenos Aires that Maradona had been running since September last year: Club de Gimnasia and Esgrima La Plata.

They hung a banner with the face of the legend and a picture of his mother Dalma Salvadora Franco.

Fans waved their shirts in honor of Maradona last night as they gathered at the Obelisk in the Argentine capital

Fans waved their shirts in honor of Maradona last night as they gathered at the Obelisk in the Argentine capital

Mourners sit pensively next to a shrine in Buenos Aires where candles have been lit and soccer jerseys have been left as tribute

Mourners sit pensively next to a shrine in Buenos Aires where candles have been lit and soccer jerseys have been left as tribute

Flowers, posters and other items are kept in a makeshift shrine in front of the stadium in Buenos Aires named after Maradona

Flowers, posters and other items are kept in a makeshift shrine in front of the stadium in Buenos Aires named after Maradona

Admirers also gathered at the door of the morgue where Maradona's body was taken after he was found dead Wednesday

Admirers also gathered at the door of the morgue where Maradona's body was taken after he was found dead Wednesday

A crowd of fans - some of them wearing the colors of the Argentine team Boca Juniors, in which Maradona played part of his career - gathered in front of Maradona's entourage near the presidential palace last night

A crowd of fans – some of them wearing the colors of the Argentine team Boca Juniors, in which Maradona played part of his career – gathered in front of Maradona's entourage near the presidential palace last night

The Boca Juniors Stadium was illuminated in the team's colors in honor of Maradona, who previously played for the Argentine team

The Boca Juniors Stadium was illuminated in the team's colors in honor of Maradona, who previously played for the Argentine team

In Naples, fans released torches in front of the San Paolo stadium, where Maradona led the team to two Italian championship titles

In Naples, fans released torches in front of the San Paolo stadium, where Maradona led the team to two Italian championship titles

A woman wearing an Argentine number 10 jersey holds her head in grief as she gathers with other fans to pay tribute in the La Paternal neighborhood of Buenos Aires

A woman wearing an Argentine number 10 jersey holds her head in grief as she gathers with other fans to pay tribute in the La Paternal neighborhood of Buenos Aires

Argentine football fans pay tribute to their fallen hero on Wednesday after the news of the World Cup winner's death

Argentine football fans pay tribute to their fallen hero on Wednesday after the news of the World Cup winner's death

A visibly emotional fan attends a vigil for Maradona in front of the Boca Juniors stadium, where Maradona once played

A visibly emotional fan attends a vigil for Maradona in front of the Boca Juniors stadium, where Maradona once played

In England, the players were silent a minute before Liverpool's Champions League match against Atalanta on Wednesday night

In England, the players were silent a minute before Liverpool's Champions League match against Atalanta on Wednesday night

Argentina's flag flied at half mast at the country's embassy in London today following the death of Diego Maradona

Argentina's flag flied at half mast at the country's embassy in London today following the death of Diego Maradona

In the city of Villa Devoto in Buenos Aires, where Maradona grew up, his ex-neighbors placed flags on their balconies as commentary on his World Cup goals boomed from the speakers.

The fans gathered to share anecdotes about Maradona. A 60-year-old woman remembered how he would flee his parents' home.

“This was a poor area when Maradona lived here. The streets were full of stones, ”she said. "He has never forgotten his roots."

A man sitting in the stands at the stadium where Maradona made his debut for the Argentine juniors at the age of 15 on October 20, 1976, remembered being there that day and said he was "a star".

"The truth is, football died," he said. & # 39; The truth is, he had the life he had. Nobody can censor it. It was difficult to be Diego and get out of where he grew up. & # 39;

Brazilian legend Pele, 80, who has been compared to Maradona in the debate about the greatest soccer player, hoped that one day they would "play in the sky together".

Argentine Lionel Messi – another of the greats who is often mentioned in the same breath as Maradona – said last night: "He's leaving us but he's not gone because Diego is eternal."

Often seen as Messi's rival in today's equivalent of the Maradona-Pele debate, Cristiano Ronaldo said Maradona was "one of the best ever".

& # 39; An unrivaled magician. He's leaving too early but leaves a legacy without borders and a void that will never be filled, ”said Ronaldo.

A minute's silence was observed ahead of Wednesday night's Champions League games in Europe while the mayor of the city of Naples, where Maradona played in the 1980s, called for the local stadium to be renamed.

"We're putting it together this morning and we're taking the first steps to inaugurate the Naples Maradona stadium," said Mayor Luigi De Magistris.

Fans were already in front of the stadium late Wednesday and Thursday morning, waving banners, singing songs and lighting torches, although gatherings in the city are technically prohibited due to Covid-19.

Mourners outside the Buenos Aires morgue hold up football shirts and pictures of Maradona. His jersey number 10 is incorporated into the word Dios, Spanish for God, on a sign

Mourners outside the Buenos Aires morgue hold up football shirts and pictures of Maradona. His jersey number 10 is incorporated into the word Dios, Spanish for God, on a sign

Mourners chant slogans in front of La Bombonera, the Boca Juniors stadium where Maradona played

Mourners chant slogans in front of La Bombonera, the Boca Juniors stadium where Maradona played

Football fans hold a vigil for Diego Maradona in front of the Argentinos Juniors football club stadium, where he started as a professional footballer in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Wednesday

Football fans hold a vigil for Diego Maradona in front of the Argentinos Juniors football club stadium, where he started as a professional footballer in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Wednesday

People mourn Maradona's death at the Obelisk in Buenos Aires last night after football authorities confirmed his death

Die Menschen trauern gestern Abend um Maradonas Tod am Obelisken in Buenos Aires, nachdem die Fußballbehörden seinen Tod bestätigt hatten

Tausende Napoli-Fans versammelten sich vor dem San Paolo-Stadion, um dem Spieler, der sie zum Ruhm der Champions League führte, ihren Respekt zu erweisen

Tausende Napoli-Fans versammelten sich vor dem San Paolo-Stadion, um dem Spieler, der sie zum Ruhm der Champions League führte, ihren Respekt zu erweisen

1986: Maradonas Hand of God-Tor, das der Schiedsrichter unerklärlicherweise verfehlt hat, eröffnet vier Jahre nach dem Falklandkrieg das Tor gegen England in einem politisch aufgeladenen Viertelfinale der Weltmeisterschaft

Nur wenige Minuten später erzielte Maradona ein faszinierendes zweites Tor - später von der FIFA als größtes Tor des Jahrhunderts bezeichnet. Argentinien gewann das Spiel mit 2: 1 und gewann anschließend die Weltmeisterschaft

Nur wenige Minuten später erzielte Maradona ein faszinierendes zweites Tor – später von der FIFA als größtes Tor des Jahrhunderts bezeichnet. Argentinien gewann das Spiel mit 2: 1 und gewann anschließend die Weltmeisterschaft

1994: Maradonas manisch schreiende Feier nach dem Treffer bei der Weltmeisterschaft in den Vereinigten Staaten. Er wurde kurz nach dem Match entlassen, weil er fünf Varianten des verbotenen Stimulans Ephedrin positiv getestet hatte

1994: Maradonas manisch schreiende Feier nach dem Treffer bei der Weltmeisterschaft in den Vereinigten Staaten. Er wurde kurz nach dem Match entlassen, weil er fünf Varianten des verbotenen Stimulans Ephedrin positiv getestet hatte

Maradona hat im November 1989 einen ersten Tanz mit seiner Frau Claudia im Luna Park in Buenos Aires. Das Paar war 1984 offiziell verheiratet, aber Maradona wollte seiner Frau eine verschwenderische Zeremonie gönnen, nachdem der Älteste ihrer beiden Töchter um ihre Hochzeit gebeten hatte Foto

Maradona hat im November 1989 einen ersten Tanz mit seiner Frau Claudia im Luna Park in Buenos Aires. Das Paar war 1984 offiziell verheiratet, aber Maradona wollte seiner Frau eine verschwenderische Zeremonie gönnen, nachdem der Älteste ihrer beiden Töchter um ihre Hochzeit gebeten hatte Foto

Diego Maradona und Claudia Villafane stehen während ihrer Hochzeitszeremonie 1989 in der Santisimo Sacramento Kirche vor dem Altar

Diego Maradona und Claudia Villafane stehen während ihrer Hochzeitszeremonie 1989 in der Santisimo Sacramento Kirche vor dem Altar

Maradona, das fünfte von acht Kindern, wurde am 30. Oktober 1960 in Lanús geboren.

Er stand seinen Eltern und Geschwistern sehr nahe, was in einem Interview von 1990 gezeigt wurde, in dem er Stapel von Telefonrechnungen vorlegte, aus denen hervorgeht, dass er monatlich 15.000 US-Dollar ausgegeben hatte, um seine Familie aus Europa anzurufen.

At the age of 10, Maradona had joined Los Cebollitas – the youth team of Argentinos Juniors, one of the largest clubs in Argentina – and led them to an incredible streak of 136 unbeaten games.

"Ihn spielen zu sehen war pure Glückseligkeit, wahrer Ruhm", sagte Teamkollege Carlos Beltran.

Nicknamed El Pibe de Oro, the Golden Boy, he mesmerised fans and players with his mastery of the ball, juggling with both feet and darting across the pitch as he dodged and weaved through the world's best defences.

'Everything he was thinking in his head, he made it happen with his feet,' said Salvatore Bagni, who played with Maradona in Naples.

Maradona made his professional debut for Argentinos Juniors aged 15, then moved to Boca Juniors for a year before heading to Barcelona for what was then a world-record fee of £5million.

In 1984, he moved to Naples where he became a working-class hero, guiding the team to the only two Italian league titles that it has ever won while consorting with the Italian mafia.

Maradona with his wife Claudia and daughters Dalma and Ganina

Maradona with his wife Claudia and daughters Dalma and Ganina

Maradona, left, greets Pope Francis in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, ahead of an inter-religious match for peace in September 2014

Maradona, left, greets Pope Francis in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, ahead of an inter-religious match for peace in September 2014

Soccer legends Diego Maradona (left) and Pele rest on a hammock during a reception in Rio de Janeiro, May 14, 1995.

Soccer legends Diego Maradona (left) and Pele rest on a hammock during a reception in Rio de Janeiro, May 14, 1995.

Maradona with wife Claudia and their daughters Ganina and Dalma in Seville, Spain, in 1992

Maradona with wife Claudia and their daughters Ganina and Dalma in Seville, Spain, in 1992

Argentina's triumph at the 1986 World Cup was his greatest moment of triumph, but it also provided his greatest moment of notoriety – the 'Hand of God' goal against England in the quarter-final.

In a politically-charged encounter four years after the Falklands War, Maradona used his fist to flick the ball past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton in an act of deception which fooled the referee.

'It was scored a little bit with the head of Diego and a little with the hand of God,' he later said, coining one of the most memorable phrases in football history.

Just minutes later, he tore England's defence apart to score a spectacular second goal which was later named by FIFA as the greatest goal of the century.

Argentina won the game 2-1, and seven days later Maradona held the World Cup after leading his team to victory over West Germany in the final at Mexico's Azteca Stadium.

Four years later, he was back in the final against the same opponents, but this time the Germans won and by now Maradona's career was on the decline – and wouldsoon become overshadowed by drug problems.

Maradona failed a doping test in 1991 and was banned for 15 months, acknowledging his longtime cocaine addiction.

In 1994, he failed another test for stimulants and was thrown out of the World Cup in the United States, where his manic scream at the camera after scoring for Argentina was another memorable image of his career.

People hang a poster of Maradona outside the Boca Juniors stadium in Buenos Aires on Wednesday

People hang a poster of Maradona outside the Boca Juniors stadium in Buenos Aires on Wednesday

Fans wearing masks hold up a Maradona flag outside the San Paolo stadium in Naples which is set to be renamed in his honour

Fans wearing masks hold up a Maradona flag outside the San Paolo stadium in Naples which is set to be renamed in his honour

People light flares as they gather under a mural depicting soccer legend Diego Maradona, in Naples, Italy, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020

People light flares as they gather under a mural depicting soccer legend Diego Maradona, in Naples, Italy, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020

Police officers outside Maradona's home on outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Wednesday

Police officers outside Maradona's home on outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Wednesday

In 1998, a year after he retired from professional football, Maradona received a suspended prison sentence of two years and 10 months following an incident in which he shot an air rifle at reporters.

In retirement he frequented Boca matches as a raucous one-man cheering section, but his health problems deteriorated and his weight ballooned.

In 2000, in what doctors said was a brush with death, he was hospitalized in the Uruguayan resort of Punta del Este with a heart pumping at less than half its capacity. Blood and urine samples turned up traces of cocaine.

After another emergency hospitalization in 2004, Maradona was counseled for drug abuse and in September of that year traveled to Cuba where he was visited by his friend, revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.

In Cuba, Maradona took to playing golf and smoking cigars. He frequently praised the Cuban leader and Che Guevara who fought with Castro in the Cuban revolution.

In 2005 he had a gastric bypass in Colombia, shedding more than 100lbs before appearing as host of a wildly popular Argentine television talk show which featured Pele, Mike Tyson and Hollywood celebrities.

But the health issues continued for the rest of his life, including treatment for alcohol abuse in 2007 and a series of more recent operations culminating in the blood clot surgery three weeks ago.

Maradona at home by his swimming pool

Maradona toasting with friends and business associates on a trip to China in 2003

Maradona at home by his swimming pool in the 1980s (left) and toasting with friends and business associates on a trip to China in 2003

Maradona wears a Union Jack t-shirt as he poses with British rock group Queen backstage in the 1980s

Maradona wears a Union Jack t-shirt as he poses with British rock group Queen backstage in the 1980s

A young Maradona plays on the beach with his brothers in Argentina

A young Maradona plays on the beach with his brothers in Argentina

Maradona also became more outspoken in retirement, sniping frequently at former coaches and players and joining a protest alongside late Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez to denounce US president George W. Bush.

He also had a spell as manager of the Argentina team, but his tactics, selection and attention to detail were all questioned and the team was badly beaten by Germany at the 2010 World Cup.

In recent years, Maradona, reduced to hobbling by the ravages of his career and lifestyle, had coached in the UAE, Mexico and Argentina without ever hitting the heights of his playing days.

Victor Hugo Morales, Argentina's most popular soccer broadcaster, said Maradona will ultimately be remembered for a thrilling style of play that has never been duplicated.

'He has been one of the great artists of my time. Like great masters of music and painting, he has defied our intellect and enriched the human spirit,' Morales said. 'Nobody has thrilled me more and left me in such awe as Diego.'

Maradona left hospital on November 11 just eight days after being admitted for the emergency brain surgery.

The footballer was driven away from the private Olivos Clinic as hundreds of fans of photographers tried to get a glimpse of him as he was discharged to his home. That was where he died on Wednesday.

Police cars are seen outside the house where Diego Maradona was recovering from surgery, in Tigre, on the outskirt of Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Wednesday

Police cars are seen outside the house where Diego Maradona was recovering from surgery, in Tigre, on the outskirt of Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Wednesday

NOVEMBER 11: An ambulance carrying Maradona leaves the clinic where he underwent brain surgery, in Olivos, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires

NOVEMBER 11: An ambulance carrying Maradona leaves the clinic where he underwent brain surgery, in Olivos, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires

Maradona's 'family XI' battle for his millions: Footballer's five known children 'are likely to feud with his six rumoured offspring' for a share of his will

By GERARD COUZENS FOR MAILONLINE

Diego Maradona's death could spark a family feud over his estate as he leaves behind five children he recognised as his and six others he has been linked to.

Before he died one of his daughters joked he could make up a starting eleven with his kids after a 23-year-old Argentinian was named as the latest woman fighting to prove she was his daughter.

Maradona had recognised two sons and three daughters by four different women – including his ex-wife Claudia Villafane and former long-term partner Veronica Ojeda – as his own.

Giannina Maradona, one of the former footballer's two daughters by Villafane, joked last year after the names of three children said to be his in Cuba were made public: 'Just three more needed for the team of 11. You can do it!!!'

In October last year a 23-year-old brunette called Magali Gil emerged as the latest possible member of Maradona's brood.

In October last year a 23-year-old brunette called Magali Gil (pictured) emerged as the latest possible member of Maradona's brood

Popular Argentinian TV programme Intrusos said she had a young daughter which would have made the former Naples and Barcelona star a grandfather if he was confirmed as her father.

She is understood to have launched legal proceedings in April last year to try to prove her blood link.

Who are Maradona's recognised children and who are the rumoured offspring?

Recognised children:

  • Diego Junior, 34
  • Jana, 23
  • Dalma, 32
  • Gianinna, 30
  • Diego Fernando, seven

Rumoured offspring:

  • 'The Cuban trio' – Joana, Lu and Javielito
  • Magali Gil, 23
  • Santiago Lara, 19

Journalist Adrian Pallares told Intrusos: 'Her mother didn't raise her but her adoptive family, who gave her all their love.

'The time came when she discovered she didn't belong to that family and that her father could be Diego Armando Maradona.'

In February the she broke her silence in Argentina to confirm the situation had not moved forward and begged the football legend to agree to a DNA test.

She had already confirmed on Italian TV she had been adopted as a youngster and her birth mum contacted her at the start of 2019 to tell her who her real father was.

Magali told Argentinian journalist Tomas Dente, speaking at the start of the year for the first time in her home nation: 'Sadly we still haven't been able to fix a date for the DNA test.

'I'd like to think that the predisposition Diego's lawyer Matias Morla spoke about last December when we met is still there so this can be resolved as quickly as possible and in the best way possible.

'I'm anxious and worried at what's happening because this is something which is key for me, my identity and my past.

'I'm trying to stay calm and understand that we're talking about Diego Maradona who I know has got a packed diary.

'I'd just like to urge him to realise there's a person who's waiting and needs him to be able to resolve my identify and put an end to this search.'

The Magali bombshell first emerged a month after Santiago Lara, who comes from the same Argentinian city of La Plata where Maradona managed Gimnasia y Esgrima, made a renewed TV appeal for the football legend to recognise him as his son.

The Magali bombshell first emerged a month after Santiago Lara (pictured), who comes from the same Argentinian city of La Plata where Maradona managed Gimnasia y Esgrima, made a renewed TV appeal for the football legend to recognise him as his son

The Magali bombshell first emerged a month after Santiago Lara (pictured), who comes from the same Argentinian city of La Plata where Maradona managed Gimnasia y Esgrima, made a renewed TV appeal for the football legend to recognise him as his son

The teenager, whose waitress mother Natalia Garat died aged 23 from lung cancer in 2006 and was raised by her ex-boyfriend Marcelo Lara, spoke for the first time in 2016 of his fight to find out who his real father is.

He said at the time: 'I've been told my real father is supposedly Diego Maradona. My dad is always going to be Marcelo Lara but what I've been told is that my real father is supposedly Diego Maradona.

'I think I look like him, the face, the curls, everything. I look at Marcelo and I know we're not alike. It's not easy to wake up in the morning with that feeling.'

'I found out after I went past a newspaper stand near my house aged 13 and saw a magazine front cover with Maradona's face on it and mine pixellated underneath.

'I was left in a state of shock because I didn't know what I was doing in the magazine. I went running home and asked Marcelo what was going on and he explained everything.

'He told me my mum was well-known on the modelling circuit when she was younger and he told me he had the feeling I wasn't his son.

'He told me a DNA test was asked for but was never forthcoming.'

Maradona's lawyer Matias Morla said months before the footballer's death he would assume his responsibilities as Santiago's father if the blood link was confirmed.

Maradona's lawyer Matias Morla (pictured today) said months before the footballer's death he would assume his responsibilities as Santiago's father if the blood link was confirmed

Maradona's lawyer Matias Morla (pictured today) said months before the footballer's death he would assume his responsibilities as Santiago's father if the blood link was confirmed

Morla has previously been quoted as saying 'Everyone knows that in Argentina there's Santiago and another person that people are talking about', although other media in the South American country have speculated the 11th child that would make up Diego's football team is a fourth Cuban.

The Cuban trio whose names have already been made public are Joana, Lu and Javielito, born after Maradona moved to the Caribbean island in February 2000 to fight drink and drug addictions.

Mr Morla, who admitted in October 2018 the ex-footballer had been 'naughty' in Cuba and confessed: 'There's going to be a lot of Maradonas, a lot, even if some people don't like it', has confirmed the trio met him during the funeral of Fidel Castro.

Over recent years Maradona had recognised his grown-up son Diego Junior, born from an extra-marital affair with Italian model Cristina Sinagra, and 23-year-old Jana who met her dad for the first time nearly six years ago following a court fight by her mum Valeria Sabalain.

Maradona also had two daughters by his ex-wife, 32-year-old Dalma and 30-year-old Gianinna, and a seven-year-old son called Diego Fernando by former girlfriend Veronica Ojeda.

Several Spanish-language memes went viral after Maradona's lawyer revealed the three Cuban children.

One said: 'If you were born between 1980 and 2019 and you have extraordinary footballing skills, contact us. You could be a son of Diego Maradona.'

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