Football

Thousands say their last goodbye to Diego Maradona

Argentinians lined up in the streets of Buenos Aires yesterday to say goodbye to football great Diego Maradona, whose casket lay in state at the Casa Rosada presidential palace, draped in an Argentinian flag and his famous No. 10 shirt.

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 yesterday, thousands had already formed a snaking line through the streets near the central Plaza de Mayo after a night of mourning.

"Maradona is the greatest thing that happened to me in life. I love him as much as my father and it's like my old man died," Cristian Montelli, 22, a fan of the star's former club Boca Juniors said with tears in his eyes.

Despite concerns over the spread of Covid-19, there was no stopping the crowd.

"You have to be here. There was no way this wouldn't happen. Somehow this is Maradona too, breaking the rules," said Marcelo Gades, 52, who was waiting to enter the wake with a rose in his hand.

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.

His family wanted to hold his burial this morning (Singapore time) at the Bella Vista cemetery in Buenos Aires, where his parents are also interred, a government source said yesterday.

As tributes poured in from all over the world, his lawyer Matias Morla said that he would ask for a full probe into the circumstances of his death.

Morla said in a statement on his Twitter account: "The ambulance took more than half an hour to arrive, which was a criminal idiocy." - AFP, REUTERS

Football