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Argentinian soccer legend Diego Maradona dies at 60

Maradona scored the infamous "Hand of God" goal in the 1986 World Cup.
Diego Maradona
Diego Maradona during a 1982 FIFA World Cup match between Argentina and BelgiumGetty Images / Getty Images
/ Source: NBC News

Argentinian soccer legend Diego Maradona, one of the sport's greatest players who scored the infamous "Hand of God" goal in the 1986 World Cup, has died, officials said Wednesday.

He was 60 years old.

"The Argentine Football Association, through its President Claudio Tapia, expresses its deepest sorrow for the death of our legend, Diego Armando Maradona," the Argentine Football Association announced. "You will always be in our hearts."

The association also posted a picture of Maradona kissing the World Cup trophy, adding: “Goodbye, Diego. You will be #Eternal in every heart of the soccer planet.”

Maradona underwent surgery earlier this month to remove a blood clot on his brain.

On Tuesday morning, Argentinian press reported that Maradona had suffered heart failure while he continued to recover from the surgery.

The news prompted fans to send him messages of encouragement on social media under #FuerzaDiego, "sending Strength to Diego," which immediately became a trending topic on Twitter.

But the encouraging messages quickly turned into grief shortly after the sad news of his passing was confirmed.

"You took us to the top of the world. You made us immensely happy,” Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez tweeted in Spanish. "You were the greatest of all. Thanks for having existed, Diego. We will miss you for a lifetime."

The colorful and outspoken star was captain of the 1986 team that captured his nation's second World Cup title. He scored twice in a 2-1 victory over England in the quarterfinals.

Diego Maradona in 2010Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

Maradona went up for a header in the 51st minute of that match, as the ball went off his arm and into England's goal.

But in an era long before instant replay, known as video assistant referee (VAR) in soccer, officials on the field missed the clear violation and the goal stood.

“A little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God," Maradona famously said of that goal.

Gary Lineker, the England star who scored the most goals in that 1986 World Cup, on Wednesday heaped nothing by praise on Maradona despite the Argentinian player’s questionable role in denying the Three Lions what’s been an elusive, generations-long hunt for glory.

“By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time,” Lineker said of his old rival. “After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God.”

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