Maradona, Argentina's favourite son whose life was marred by struggles with addiction, died aged 60 following a heart attack at home. Huge crowds are expected to pay their respects as part of three days of national mourning.
Soccer superstar Diego Maradona has been buried in a private ceremony attended by only two dozen people – a stark contrast to earlier in the day when tens of thousands of weeping fans filed past his coffin for hours in an observance that mixed head-of-state-like honours with the chaos of a rowdy stadium.
Only family members and close friends were permitted at Jardin Bella Vista cemetery for the final religious ceremony and burial of Maradona next to the graves of his parents, Dalma and Diego.
Fans waving Argentine flags had gathered along roads as Maradona’s funeral car drove by under heavy security.
Many tried to touch the vehicle whenever it was stopped by traffic.
Maradona, Argentina's favourite son whose life was marred by struggles with addiction, died aged 60 following a heart attack at home on Wednesday. Huge crowds are expected to pay their respects as part of three days of national mourning.
Early on Thursday, thousands were already forming a snaking line through the streets near the central Plaza de Mayo after a night of mourning and reminiscing. Some scuffles broke out as fans tried to get inside the palace to see their hero.
'He touched the sky with his hands'
Maradona's body lay in a wooden coffin with the blue and white national flag and an Argentina football jersey with the number 10 that had been part of his nickname "D10S" - a play on "dios", the Spanish word for God.
Fans held back by a barrier threw things towards the casket, including football shirts, as they tried to get near the player, who had become a hero in Argentina and beyond both on and off the pitch despite his well-documented flaws.
"He was someone who touched the sky with his hands but never took his feet off the ground," President Alberto Fernandez said on Wednesday.
Major athletes and world leaders, including Argentina-born Pope Francis, have paid tribute to Maradona.
On Wednesday, tens of thousands of Argentines took to the streets to mourn him, leaving flowers and messages at his childhood home and former football club Boca Juniors.
#Argentine #BuenosAires Le cordon de sécurité pour les fidèles venus faire leurs adieux à Dios s'étend de la Casa Rosada (palais pdtiel) jusqu'à la mythique avenue 9 de julio. Une file d'attente dense traverse et dépasse la plaza de Mayo #Maradona pic.twitter.com/VUsApfJ7hc— Fabien Palem (@fabienpalem) November 26, 2020
Fans in outpouring of love for Maradona in Naples
If there's one place outside Argentina that will likely match the outpouring of grief for footballer Maradona's death, it's Naples.
Thousands of people have been mourning the former Naples star Maradona, after news of his sudden death.
While Maradona was revered around the world as perhaps the greatest football player ever, in Naples he was more than that.
Maradona was treated as a deity for the way he led Napoli to its only two Serie A titles - in 1987 and 1990 - and raised the spirits of the southern Italian city, which remains far removed both geographically and socio-economically from the country's football capitals of Milan and Turin.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Naples started the formal process to rename the San Paolo stadium for Diego Maradona on Thursday.
“We are already putting it together this morning, taking the first steps to dedicate Naples’ stadium to Maradona,” Luigi De Magistris said.
“It’s a process but it will be a quick process, because when there is such a strong desire there’s nothing that will hold us up," he said.
Residents of Naples mourning the death of Napoli Legend, World Cup Winner, and Greatest of all time Diego Maradona. pic.twitter.com/rNWIZ6susf— Pushkal Kesri (@kesri_pushkal) November 26, 2020
Indian fans gather to mourn Maradona
Indian football fans gathered in Kolkata to mourn the death of Argentine football legend Maradona, whose mesmerising performance and feats in the 1986 World Cup divided fan loyalties in the city.
"Maradona made people fall in love with Argentina," said Samudra Bose, who was among the hundreds that gathered in Kolkata to pay respects.
"Before Maradona and the 1986 World Cup people were mostly fans of Brazil, but Maradona after the 1986 World Cup divided Kolkata in two halves."
Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, and the states of Kerala and Goa have long had large football followings in an otherwise cricket-crazed country.