International soccer superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both paid respects to Diego Maradona after the Argentinian legend died Wednesday at the age of 60.
Messi, also an Argentine, called Maradona’s death a “sad day” for the country, but he also hailed Maradona as a legend who will live on as an “eternal” presence.
The FC Barcelona star also thanked Maradona — who coached him during the 2010 World Cup — for the moments they shared on the pitch and sent condolences to his loved ones.
Ronaldo called Maradona an “eternal genius” and “unparalleled magician” the likes of which might never be seen again.
Diego Maradona was not just a soccer legend, but a global icon.
Late Los Angeles Lakers fan Kobe Bryant — who was a noted soccer fanatic — called Maradona one of his idols when he played for Napoli in Italy:
Maradona was Kobe's idol. pic.twitter.com/bTvVCyx5Ig
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 25, 2020
Indeed, the “Golden Boy” will forever be remembered as one of the most iconic — and most controversial — stars in the history of sports.
Diego Maradona’s place in history can best be summed up by his performance during the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal against England. He scored the notorious “Hand of God” goal to give Argentina an early lead, then followed with a goal many still consider the greatest ever scored.
The rest of Maradona’s career was somewhat marred by drug abuse, something he struggled with after his playing days ended. He also had myriad health issues in recent years.
Nevertheless, Diego Maradona was one of the standard-bearers for Messi and Ronaldo, both of whom are among the greatest to grace the pitch as well. Leo and CR7 honored him as such on Wednesday.