Indian sporting fraternity has paid emotional tributes to football superstar Diego Maradona.
The Argentine soccer great, who led his country to the 1986 World Cup title, died on Wednesday. He was 60.
“My hero no more ..my mad genius rest in peace ..I watched football for you,” former India cricket team captain and BCCI president Ganguly tweeted.
Ganguly had played with Maradona in a charity match when the icon came to Kolkata in 2017.
IM Vijayan, one of India’s greats in football, said his one and a half decades of international football almost paled in comparison to the few minutes he got to spend with Maradona.
The former India captain had the opportunity to meet, play ball and hug Maradona during a private event in Kerala a few years ago.
“In 2012 in Kannur, I saw first-hand what football meant to Maradona. As part of festivities, a cake was designed like a ground with a football on top of it. The moment Maradona saw it, he refused to cut it,” Vijayan told PTI.
“He agreed to cut only the outer part of the cake. I can say that playing two minutes of football with him on the stage remains one of my biggest achievements in life,” he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that Maradona gave some of the best sporting moments on the football field and his untimely demise has saddened everyone.
Modi tweeteed, “Diego Maradona was a maestro of football, who enjoyed global popularity. Throughout his career, he gave us some of the best sporting moments on the football field. His untimely demise has saddened us all. May his soul rest in peace.”
All India Football Federation President Praful Patel called Maradona an invaluable gem.
“Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona was like a magician with the ball at his feet. Football has lost an invaluable gem today. His glorious legacy will forever have a place in football history. Rest in peace,” he tweeted.
Cricket great Sachin Tendulkar said, “Football and the world of sports has lost one of its greatest players today. Rest in Peace Diego Maradona! You shall be missed.”
Former hockey captain Viren Rasquinha also posted an emotional tribute.
“Thank you for all the memories & madness,” he tweeted. “…that genius left foot that was truly blessed by all the Gods above.”