BUENOS AIRES — Argentina’s Diego Maradona, one of the world’s greatest ever soccer players, was buried on Thursday amid a global outpouring of grief from the streets of Buenos Aires to Naples in Italy.
The death of Maradona at the age of 60 on Wednesday, following a heart attack, has sparked both mourning and celebrations of a true sporting star, who was a genius on the soccer field but lived a life marred by struggles with addiction.
In a day of high emotion, the World Cup winner was taken by hearse late on Thursday to the Bella Vista cemetery on the outskirts of Buenos Aires – where his parents are also interred – for an small private ceremony of his family and close friends.
Thousands of Argentines lined the roads as the procession passed on the hour-long journey from the presidential palace in central Buenos Aires, where Maradona had lain in state during the day.
Earlier, there were clashes between police and fans and a febrile atmosphere more akin to a rowdy soccer game than a wake, with fans clambering up the palace gates to get as close as possible to their hero.
Maradona, the 1986 World Cup winner was buried at the Jardin Bella Vista cemetery, in Buenos Aires province, where his parents were also buried. The private ceremony was attended by family and close friends.
The former Barcelona and Napoli star died of a heart attack aged 60 on Wednesday November 25, just two weeks after being discharged from hospital for a bleed on his brain.
An autopsy report said he died in his sleep after suffering heart failure, only two weeks after leaving hospital following surgery to remove a blood clot on his brain.
Medics also detected dilated cardiomyopathy, a medical condition in which the heart muscle becomes weakened and enlarged and cannot pump enough blood to the rest of the body.
Thousands of fans packed the streets around the presidential palace where Maradona lay in state on Thursday and thousands more lined the highways to catch a glimpse of his hearse as it was being escorted by police vehicles.
Maradona’s daughters Dalma, 33, and Giannina, 31, by his first wife and childhood sweetheart Claudia Villafane, were pictured wiping tears as they left for the funeral.
Maradona, regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, was the inspiration for Argentina’s World Cup success in Mexico in 1986, winning the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player.
He also led the country to the final of the 1990 tournament in Italy although his international playing career ended when he failed a drug test at the 1994 World Cup in the United States.
He played club football for Boca Juniors, Napoli, and Barcelona among others, and was adored by millions of fans for his football talent.
During his time with Italian side Napoli, he won the Serie A title in 1987 and 1990, along with an Italian Cup in 1987 and a Uefa Cup in 1991.
In 1999 and 2000 he was taken to hospital suffering heart problems, the second time requiring a respirator to breathe.
In 2004, he was again treated in hospital for severe heart and respiratory problems linked to his drug abuse.
He underwent two gastric bypass operations to control his weight and received treatment for alcohol abuse.
In January, he had surgery to stem bleeding in his stomach, and in July he underwent a knee operation.
Diego Maradona is survived by five children and his former wife, 58-year-old Claudia Villafane, whom he split with in 2004 after 20 years of marriage.