BUENOS AIRES – People lit flowers and candles under the murals of Diego Maradona outside the stadium here that symbolize his name. Cried a man inconsolably.
In the obelisk of central Buenos Aires, another man waved a banner depicting Mr. Maradona, which read, “God is Argentina.”
There was a sense of incredulity in Argentina on Wednesday as word spread that the football star was Died that morning At his home in Tigray, north of Buenos Aires. The government decided for three days of mourning.
Often called one of the game’s best players, Mr Maradona was honored by his fellow Argentines – not only for his success on the field, but for his rise from poverty to global stardom. He also remained a national hero in his personal life, including a prolonged period of drug and alcohol abuse that transformed him worldwide.
As people gathered around the country to honor the man often referred to as “El Diego”, some chose Buenos Aires Stadium, where he made his debut in 1976 at the Juniors Club in Argentina As a young player, and was later replaced for him.
“The first time I saw I couldn’t believe it,” said 66-year-old Hugo Daniel Santiest, who said he watched Mr. Maradona’s second match at the stadium. “I had never seen anything like it.”
But even to see a Argentina-born man playing was mourning too late.
“I think a member of my family died,” said 19-year-old Joaquin Lopez Castan, “All my life I wanted to play football like Maradona.”
Mr. Maradona underwent brain surgery earlier this month, and has had several medical problems in the past. But his death, which a spokesman said was from a heart attack, still came as a shock to many.
“He was Maradona, he always pulled towards him,” said 19-year-old Joao Deziar.
Many places around Buenos Aires became outdoor mourning places for fans, including the morgue where authorities brought his body; His humble home in Villa Fiorito, the dilapidated area where he grew up; And La Bombonera Stadium, where he once played as a member of the Boca Juniors Club.
Hundreds of people also gathered in the city of Buenos Aires, as the government had planned that a heavy uproar is expected in the presidential palace on Thursday.
At 10 pm, people applauded her balconies in honor of Mr. Maradona, who wore the traditional No. 10 jersey of a playwright.
Wednesday turned into a Thursday, people were in no hurry to go home. Hundreds of people chanted and sang songs for Mr. Maradona outside the presidential palace, as some began to wake up.
“Of course, Maradona was the greatest football player this country has ever seen, but it does not tell the whole story. There is something that makes him so much more than that, ”said sports journalist Alejandro Wall.
“Diego is Argentina’s great narrator,” he said.
Mr. Maradona is always remembered for winning Argentina in the 1986 World Cup. In the infamous quarterfinal against England, he scored one of the most beautiful goals in the history of the game as well as an illegal hand goal. (“It was scored a little with Diego’s head and a little with God’s hand,” he later said of that goal.)
The English were fierce, but in Argentina – still insulted by Britain’s defeat in a small war on Falkland Islands in 1982, which Argentina calls Malvinas and claims – Mr Maradona was praised.
“A narrative has been created that the goal was not illegal because in reality it was God doing justice after the defeat in the 1982 battle,” said Lívia Gonçalves Magalhães, a historian at the Brazilian Federal Fluminance University who intersects with football and politics Studies. in South America.
“It was the happiest moment of my life,” said 67-year-old Juan Jose Azkurra, his tears giving way to a smile as he missed the goal. “I will never forget it.”
Anthropologist Veronica Moreira, who studies sports at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council, a national institution in Argentina, said the World Cup was doubly sweet because no one believed in the team and what they did in the end was amazing. Argentina’s win in the final against West Germany solidified Mr. Maradona’s position, leading the underdog team to victory.
Beats were a constant theme in Mr. Maradona’s life story. His rise from poverty was one of the reasons that many Argentina continued to recognize him until he became a world famous figure.
“He never stopped being a part of the people,” said 44-year-old Gaston Teskinski. “He was always a child of Fiorito.”
Mr. Maradona has leftist politics on his sleeve, and Ms. Maglehous said she would publicly criticize the leaders of FIFA, the global governing body of football, “without any concern.”
“Maradona was a vindictive character who garnered a lot of sympathy,” said Rodrigo Dascal, a professor who is a researcher at the Sports Study Center at San Martine National University. “Maradona was always authentic and did not try to carve out any part of his life.”
Mr. Maradona’s candor about his struggle with alcohol and drugs was appreciated by many of his admirers, especially those with drug addiction. “My old man had a problem with drugs, who am I to judge Maradona?” Said 42-year-old Pablo Neret, who had tears in his eyes.
The songs were Written in honor of Mr. Maradona, And some of his phrases entered the everyday lexicon of Argentina. there was one “They cut my legs, “Which he said after being dropped from the 1994 World Cup for doping.
43-year-old Victoria Fassa called Mr. Maradona “a rebel who was passionate above all and said what he thought regardless of the consequences.”
“He was 100 percent Argentina,” he said.
Manuela Andreini contributed reporting from Rio de Janeiro, and Anatoly Kurmanev from Caracas, Venezuela.