Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has joined the world of football in paying tribute and mourning the loss of global football icon Diego Maradona, who passed away at the age of 60 from a heart attack in his hometown of Buenos Aires on Wednesday.
Widely-regarded as one of the greatest ever to grace the world’s biggest stages, Maradona began his professional career with Argentinos Juniors at the age of 16 and went on to represent Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell's Old Boys as a player as well as the likes of Racing Club, Dorados, Gimnasia and the Argentina national team later as a coach.
His crowning moment came in 1986 when he captained Argentina to their second FIFA World Cup triumph in Mexico after prevailing over Germany 3-2 in the final of a memorable global showpiece that saw him also claim the tournament’s Golden Ball.
Recognising his incredible contributions to the game, Shaikh Salman said: “On behalf of the AFC and the entire Asian football family, I extend my deepest sympathies on the passing of Diego Armando Maradona, one of the true legends of our great game.
“Diego Maradona was rightly recognised by FIFA as one of the joint winners of the ‘Player of the 20th Century Award’ after not only enjoying a stellar club career with clubs in South America and Europe, most notably Napoli, but also for captaining Argentina to their FIFA World Cup success in Mexico in 1986.
“He was one of a select band of men who not only led their country on the field in a FIFA World Cup but also managed the national side when he steered Argentina, this time as coach, at the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa.”
The AFC President also praised and recognised the Argentinian’s stint in Asian football where he was appointed coach of United Arab Emirates’ Al Wasl Football Club in 2011 before returning to the country in 2017 to take charge of Fujairah FC.
“In the Middle East, he was also a coach at both Al Wasl and Fujairah in the UAE but it is for his brilliance on the field that he will be remembered with such fondness not just in Asia, but across the world. We send our sympathy to his family, friends, colleagues and the Argentina football fraternity as the world game has today lost one of its greatest talents.”
The thoughts and prayers of the AFC and the rest of the Asian football community are with the family and loved ones of Maradona, the Argentinian Football Association and the rest of the sporting world in mourning this great loss to football.
In memory of his contribution, all four Group Stage matches of the AFC Champions League (East) to be played on Friday, 27 November will observe a minute of silence.
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