Maradona’s legend will live forever

Buenos Aires / Mexico City: Argentina’s stunned soccer fans sought each other out to mourn the death of Diego Maradona, gathering by the hundreds in spots linked to the life of the legendary player.

They gathered outside the humble home where he was born and raised in the Villa Fiorito neighbourhood.

They went to the stadium of Argentinos Juniors, where he started as a professional footballer in 1976. They stood at the historic La Bombonera stadium of his beloved Boca Juniors. More were at the headquarters of Gimnasia La Plata, the team he was coaching.

“I am touched. I can’t understand it, I can’t see the reality. Diego will never die, today is the birth of the Maradona myth,” said Dante L pez, a physician who went to the Argentinos Juniors stadium, which carries the beloved player’s name.¬†Fans put candles and flowers along the wall around the field.

“Diego was Argentina in the world. He gave us joy and we will never be able to repay him for so much joy,” said Argentine President Alberto Fern ndez, who issued a decree for three days of national mourning and offered the presidential palace for the funeral.

Mariano Jeijer sat with his wife and their baby in a small car near the Boca Juniors stadium. He said he didn’t want to be sad at home.

“Diego is a symbol of being Argentinian. He is someone that made us very happy,” Jeijer said.

Jejier said his devotion to Maradona is justified by the two goals he scored against England in Argentina’s 2-1 victory in the quarterfinals of the 1986 World Cup. That game was seen by many Argentine fans as pay back for the Falklands war four years earlier in which Britain defeated Argentina.

“The happiest moment was the first goal against the English. I was 12. I screamed as if I was crazy. I don’t even remember the second,” he said.

Nearby, Patricia S nchez said Maradona “was like a father, and we were his children.” She stood with her son ngel, who wore a blue and yellow Boca Juniors coat. Maradona played for Boca Juniors in 1981 before he moved to Barcelona, then returned there to retire as a player in 1997.

There were no tears, only celebration in Villa Fiorito, where Maradona learned how to play soccer on muddy fields.

“Ol , ol , Diego, Diego,” the neighbours sang in front of the house on Azamor Street where Maradona lived until Argentinos Juniors bought him a better one.¬†‘Diego is the greatest, he is a national pride,’ the fans chanted.

Although the property no longer belongs to Maradona’s family, neighbours began painting a mural of their idol on a wall.

Mariela C rdoba said she didn’t finish lunch after learning of his death from a heart attack.

At the headquarters of Gimnasia La Plata, where Maradona became coach in September 2019, many fans cried in the stands. He made his last appearance there at a game Oct. 30, which was his 60th birthday.

“We will keep that smile, and the most beautiful crest on your chest,” the club said on Twitter. We lived an unforgettable story.

Everywhere, everybody

On the soccer field, he was considered as a genius. Outside, he was a character known practically everywhere, by everybody.

Diego Maradona, who died Wednesday of a heart attack at age 60, started his story as a player in the Villa Fiorito neighborhood in Buenos Aires and over the decades he became a soccer great.

He debuted with Argentinos Juniors and then jumped to the mythical Boca Juniors, where in 1981 he got his first title as a professional soccer player. Then, it was off to Europe, and his legend began.

He won three titles with the Barcelona club, becoming a world soccer figure. But Maradona won a place as one of the all-time greats when he led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title in Mexico, where he scored one of the most storied goals in soccer history the ‘Hand of God’ goal that helped defeat England in a quarterfinal match.

 

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