Tributes have flooded in for footballing legend Diego Maradona, who has died aged 60.
Sports stars and celebrities paid their respects to the Argentinian, who was out of hospital recovering from surgery after a blot clot on his brain.
Barcelona icon Lionel Messi, Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo and Brazilian great Pele were among the footballers to post their best wishes online.
Piers Morgan, Brian May, The Pope, Duran Duran and Mike Tyson also shared touching messages to ‘El Pibe de Oro’, or ‘the Golden Boy’.
Meanwhile Maradona’s former clubs Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur, Boca Juniors and Napoli all mourned the legends passing.
Argentine football legend Diego Maradona has died at the age of 60 following a heart attack
A Vatican spokesman said: ‘Pope Francis has been informed of the death of Diego Maradona. He looks back affectionately on the opportunities on encounter they had in recent years and remembers him in prayer, as he has done in recent days upon learning of his health condition’
Nine ambulances were sent to his house at 3pm on Wednesday in San Andres, north of Buenos Aires, where the footballer went to live after leaving hospital.
He had reportedly taken an early lunch and told his caretaker he was going to take a nap because he was not feeling well.
Local reports said one of the nurses caring for him had raised the alarm after discovering he had suffered a suspected heart attack.
None of the paramedics who rushed to the house were able to do anything to save him.
Messi, who is widely regarded as Maradona’s heir in Argentina, paid an emotional tribute to his idol on Instagram.
He wrote: ‘A very sad day for all Argentines and for football. He leaves us but does not leave, because Diego is eternal.
‘I keep all the beautiful moments lived with him and I wanted to take the opportunity to send my condolences to all his family and friends. RIP.’
Ronaldo posted a picture of himself with Maradona on his Instagram, writing: ‘Today I say goodbye to a friend and the world says goodbye to an eternal genius.
‘One of the best ever. An unparalleled magician. He leaves too soon, but leaves a legacy without limits and a void that will never be filled. Rest in peace, ace. You will never be forgotten.’
Pele said: ‘What sad news. I lost a great friend and the world lost a legend. There is still much to be said, but for now, may God give strength to family members.’
The Brazilian, who is regarded as the greatest footballer of all time, added: ‘One day, I hope we can play ball together in the sky.’
Lionel Messi (left) took to Instagram to post this picture with Maradona, alongside a message
The Barcelona star also shared this photo of himself with Maradona and called his idol ‘eternal’
Maradona, the midfield linchpin of the Argentina side that won the 1986 World Cup, had surgery on a blood clot on the brain in a Buenos Aires hospital this month.
His personal physician Dr Leopoldo Luque said the early signs were ‘favourable’, but it has been reported Maradona suffered a heart attack at his home on Wednesday.
He is thought of by many as the best ever footballer after a storied career, the highlight of which came when he captained Argentina to a second World Cup.
He also led the country to the final of the 1990 tournament in Italy and managed them in South Africa in 2010.
Piers Morgan posted on Instagram: ‘RIP Diego Maradona, 60. A wild, passionate, complex footballing genius so brilliantly talented he reduced even the best opposing teams to mass quivering wrecks.
‘Winning the World Cup for Argentina made him a Great. But what he did at Napoli made him a God. Such sad news.’
Brian May shared a picture of Queen with Maradona when the band played Velez Sarsfield Stadium in Buenos Aires in 1981.
He wrote: ‘Half Angel, Half Devil, they said… and all genius. Greatest Of All Time ? I wouldn’t know. But a wonderful talent.
‘We enjoyed spending time with him when we played Velez Sarsfield Stadium, Buenos Aires in 1981. And he came on stage with us, to a massive roar.
‘And that’s my T-shirt he’s wearing here … bless him. RIP DIEGO MARADONNA. Too young.
‘So sad. Wish I could have got my heart specialist to him to save him like I was saved. Bri.’
A Vatican spokesman said: ‘Pope Francis has been informed of the death of Diego Maradona.
‘He looks back affectionately on the opportunities on encounter they had in recent years and remembers him in prayer, as he has done in recent days upon learning of his health condition.’
English band Duran Duran posted a simple message on Twitter with a picture of the great, saying: ‘Respect. #Maradona.’
Mike Tyson commented: ‘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.’
Gary Lineker, who was on the receiving end of Maradona’s famous Hand of God in Argentina’s quarter-final victory over England in Mexico in 1986, also commented.
He tweeted tonight: ‘Reports from Argentina that Diego Armando Maradona has died.
‘By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time.
‘After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God. #RipDiego.’
TV show host Paddy McGuiness said: ‘I’ve just finished work and only just seen the news.
‘What an icon, what a life! One of the true greats of the beautiful game. RIP Diego Maradona.’
Carragher tweeted: ‘I’ll never forget watching Diego Maradona as an 8 yr old at the World Cup in Mexico.’
The Sky Sports pundit added: ‘Never seen anything like it on that stage since. Sad news #Maradona.’
Jose Mourinho, took to his Instagram account to share a picture of him on the bench with Maradona, and wrote: ‘Don Diego. F**k friend I miss you.’
Jose Mourinho shared a picture of him with the Argentinian on his social media page this evening
Maradona’s successes made him a global star and a national hero in Argentina but his career was also blighted by controversies on and off the field.
His ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the 1986 quarter-finals, when he pushed the ball into the net, earned him infamy – although he followed up by scoring the ‘goal of the century’, a remarkable solo effort, in the same game.
His international playing career ended in shame when he failed a drugs test at the 1994 World Cup in the United States and he was notorious for a wayward lifestyle.
He was also banned from football in 1991 after testing positive for cocaine while playing for Napoli.
However he remained a revered figure at the Italian club, where he won two Serie A titles.
He also played for Barcelona, Sevilla, Boca Juniors and Newell’s Old Boys and was most recently manager of Gimnasia y Esgrima in La Plata, Argentina.
His old clubs sent out their tributes tonight, with Barcelona, where he enjoyed two seasons between 1982 and 1984, tweeting: ‘Thank you for everything, Diego.’
Boca Juniors, where Maradona began and ended his career in Argentina, tweeted: ‘Eternal thank you. Eternal Diego.’
Napoli, where Maradona spent seven years between 1984 and 1991 and won the club’s only two Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990, wrote: ‘Always in our hearts. Ciao Diego.’
They added: ‘The world awaits our words but there are no words to describe the pain we’re going through. Now is the time to grieve.’
The AFA, tweeted: ‘The Argentine Football Association, through its president Claudio Tapia, expresses its deepest sorrow for the death of our legend, Diego Armando Maradona. You will always be in our hearts.’
England football’s Twitter account wrote: ‘Unforgettable. Farewell, Diego. A legend of our game.’
Thousands of fans poured on to the streets of Argentina, many at the entrance to the football club in Buenos Aires that Maradona had managed since September last year.
They hung up a banner with the legend’s face painted across it and of his mother Dalma Salvadora Franco.
A supporter struggled to hold back tears, describing the Argentine ‘an unforgettable figure. We thank him for everything he did.’
Argentine network TN reported its website, along with newspaper Clarín and other media outlets, were down as fans flocked to the site as news about his death broke.
Other footballers also weighed in to pay tribute to the sporting great. Marcus Rashford said ‘Legendary’, with a picture of the former Napoli icon in his heyday.
Former England defender Rio Ferdinand posted a series of pictures of him with Maradona over the years.
He wrote a heartfelt message saying: ‘My 1st football hero. Few people have impact over generations like this man did.’
He added: ‘The greatest, the best, the artist, the man…charismatic, a leader…A WINNER!
‘One of the main reasons why I went out on my estate to kick a ball, pretending to be Diego. RIP Diego Armando Maradona.’
Former England and Liverpool striker Michael Owen added: ‘Quite simply – a player like no other. Rest In Peace Diego Maradona.’
England captain Harry Kane tweeted a picture of when he met Maradona in the Tottenham dressing room in 2017.
He wrote with the image: ‘Privileged to have met him. Very sad news. RIP Diego Maradona.’
Juventus boss Andrea Pirlo wrote: ‘The god of football goes away… thanks for everything Diego.’
Stan Collymore tweeted: ‘The football Gods shone brightly on this one. What an incredible, incredible footballer.’
Everton striker Richarlison tweeted a picture of Maradona in a Brazil shirt, with just a sad face emoji to accompany it.