Diego Maradona dies: Guardiola pays tribute to 'man of joy' as Klopp hails Argentina great

By Patric Ridge 26 November 2020 40
Diego Maradona dies: Guardiola pays tribute to 'man of joy' as Klopp hails Argentina great

Pep Guardiola and Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp have paid tribute to Diego Maradona, with the Manchester City manager calling the Argentina great "a man of joy".

Maradona died aged 60 on Wednesday, with the former Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli star reportedly suffering a heart attack, though that has not been confirmed.

After a stellar playing career, Maradona struggled with drug and alcohol problems, though will no doubt go down as one of the greatest players to grace the game.

Shortly after news of Maradona's death was confirmed, City faced Olympiacos in the Champions League, with Phil Foden's goal earning a 1-0 win for Guardiola's side.

Sergio Aguero was married to Maradona's daughter Gianinna, with whom he has a son, though the pair have since split.

Aguero came on as a substitute in Athens, and Guardiola offered his support to the Argentine striker before reminiscing about one of football's greats.

"Firstly, support for Sergio, Diego was his son's grandfather," Guardiola told reporters.

"It was a banner in Argentina I think, one year ago I read it. It said, no matter what you have done in your life Diego, it matters what you have done for our lives.

"I think it fits perfectly with what this guy gave us. The man of joy, the pleasure, and his commitment to world football, he made world football better.

"His performance, what he had done in Napoli, and especially the national team in Argentina, Mexico 1986, it was something unbelievable. Rest in peace and on behalf of Manchester City of course, a big hug for all of his family."

Guardiola joined Barcelona's academy just as Maradona left for Napoli in 1984, with the Argentinian going on to win two Serie A titles in Naples.

"When I was a little boy with my dad, sometimes I came to Barcelona to see Maradona play football, it was incredible," Guardiola continued.

"When I arrived to the academy he left to Napoli, I could not share time, being there in the academy, being close more for the Barcelona games.

"I was not in the locker room with him, but all the people in the locker room who was with him, express his generosity, his thinking for all of them, making a better position for world football, and on the pitch was something unique, for one or two generations, he was a player like 'wow'.

"It's sad news, we knew that it was not perfect."

Liverpool lost 2-0 to Atalanta in their Champions League match at Anfield, and Reds manager Klopp told BT Sport beforehand: "I'm 53 and it feels like my entire life, he was part of it. When I was very, very young – maybe eight or nine, 10 years old – I saw him for the first time and he was 16 or 17.

"In any video, juggling the ball, from that moment on he was the player for me. From an international point of view there's Pele, Maradona, [Lionel] Messi, if you want – one Brazilian and two Argentinians.

"I saw his documentary not too long ago; Diego was a sensational guy, Maradona had some struggles, let me say it like this. I will miss both."

Carlo Ancelotti regularly played against Maradona during his stint in Italy, and the three-time Champions League-winning manager also offered his tribute.

"You were always a genius. Today is a very sad day and a great loss, but you my friend are eternal," Ancelotti, now in charge of Everton, posted on his official Instagram account.

"Ciao Diego. Rest In Peace."

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