Pele believes the death of Diego Maradona should teach the world to "admire each other more" and spread a little more love.

The sporting world was shaken last week when Argentina great Maradona died at the age of 60 after suffering heart failure.

Former Brazil superstar Pele, who is now 80, intimated he was tired of being compared to Maradona, with the South American pair having been widely regarded for many years as the greatest players of all time.

The likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have entered that conversation in recent times, but Pele says looking for winners during such debates can stifle appreciation levels.

In a new tribute to Maradona, Pele wrote: "Many people loved to compare us all their lives. You were a genius that enchanted the world. A magician with the ball at his feet. A true legend. But above all that, for me, you will always be a great friend, with an even bigger heart.

"Today, I know that the world would be much better if we could compare each other less and start admiring each other more. So, I want to say that you are incomparable."

The mercurial Maradona won 91 caps for his country between 1977 and 1994, scoring 34 goals at international level.

Pele was sorry he did not have a chance to say goodbye to Maradona in person, but he said the 1986 World Cup winner had managed to be influential, even in death.

In his message, posted to Instagram, Pele added: "Your trajectory was marked by honesty. And in your unique and particular way, you taught us that we have to love and say 'I love you' a lot more often. Your quick departure didn't let me say it to you, so I will just write: I love you, Diego."

He illustrated their friendship with a series of photographs, dating back decades, beginning with an early encounter when a young Maradona watches Pele play guitar.

"My great friend, thank you very much for our entire journey," Pele wrote. "One day, in heaven, we will play together on the same team. And it will be the first time that I raise my fist in the air in triumph on the pitch without celebrating a goal. It will be because I can finally embrace you again."

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper will step down in January to take up a new role as head of the NFL in the UK and Europe. 

Gosper joined World Rugby in July 2012 and oversaw the sport's return to the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 and the delivery of the first Asian World Cup in Japan last year.

Chief operating officer Alan Gilpin will perform the role of interim CEO until Gosper's replacement is appointed.

"It's been a fantastic nine years," Gosper said. "It has been an absolute privilege to have worked with so many talented and dedicated rugby people around the world.

"Rugby is a wonderful sport and World Rugby is a fantastic organisation, and therefore it was a very difficult decision to leave.

"But with a new ambitious strategic plan set to launch and the strong foundations in place to drive the sport forward beyond the pandemic, the time is right for me to begin a new challenge.

"I am proud of what we have achieved together as a rugby family. While I will miss working in the sport, my passion and enthusiasm for what rugby and its values mean to so many will never diminish."

NFL executive vice president Christopher Halpin added: "The UK has been a core market of investment and growth for the NFL over the last decade, and we believe broader Europe presents a number of similar attractive opportunities to expand the game and our fan base.

"Brett's exceptional skills and experience make him the ideal leader to build on our momentum and grow the NFL."

 

Papa Bouba Diop, a star of Senegal's famous World Cup campaign in 2002, has died. 

Diop, 42, had reportedly been battling a long-term illness. 

The former midfielder played for four different clubs in England, enjoying spells at Fulham, Portsmouth, West Ham and Birmingham City after impressing in France for Lens. 

In a Twitter statement on Sunday, Lens said: "It is with great sadness that Racing Club de Lens have just learned of the passing of their former player Papa Bouba Diop, at the age of 42. 

"We offer our deepest condolences to his loved ones."

Diop is best remembered for helping Senegal to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup 18 years ago. He scored the only goal of the game as they stunned reigning champions France 1-0 in the opening match in Seoul. 

He scored twice more in a 3-3 draw with Uruguay as Senegal progressed from the group stage before beating Sweden in the last 16. 

Their remarkable run was ended by Turkey, who triumphed 1-0 to progress through to the semi-finals. 

Diop began his career in Senegal with ASC Diaraf before playing in Switzerland for Vevey, Neuchatel Xamax and Grasshoppers, winning the Super League title in 2001. 

He also spent a season in Greece with AEK Athens, where he won the Greek Cup in 2010-11, three years after lifting the FA Cup with Portsmouth. 

Diop, who won 63 senior caps for his country, was also part of the team that reached the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2002, where they lost to Cameroon on penalties.

Belgium and reigning champions France head Europe's list of top-seeded teams for World Cup qualifying - and they may have to face a Sweden side featuring Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

World governing body FIFA confirmed the six pots of teams on Friday, based on its new list of world rankings, ahead of the December 7 draw in Zurich.

Belgium are the world's number one team while France sit second in FIFA's rankings, having triumphed at the 2018 World Cup.

The European qualifiers begin with three match days in March, meaning World Cup preliminaries begin before the delayed Euro 2020 finals.

Dangerous teams in Pot Two include the likes of Poland, who boast Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski, and Sweden, who could by then have Ibrahimovic back in their ranks.

Ibrahimovic has hinted he wants to come out of international retirement, and coach Janne Andersson this week held a positive meeting with the Milan striker about that possibility.

Should Ibrahimovic come back on board, Andersson would likely want him involved well ahead of Euro 2020, which is due to take place in June and July of next year.

Andersson said on the Swedish FA website: "When Zlatan opened up for games in the national team, it felt natural and important to meet and discuss this as soon as possible. 

"I am glad that we managed to get a meeting so quickly."

Ibrahimovic is Sweden's record goalscorer but the 39-year-old Milan striker last played for his country at Euro 2016.

He is the top scorer in Serie A this season with 10 goals in six appearances.

World Cup pots for Qatar 2022 qualifying draw:

Pot One: Belgium, France, England, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands

Pot Two: Switzerland, Wales, Poland, Sweden, Austria, Ukraine, Serbia, Turkey, Slovakia, Romania

Pot Three: Russia, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Czech Republic, Norway, Northern Ireland, Iceland, Scotland, Greece, Finland

Pot Four: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Israel, Belarus, Georgia, Luxembourg

Pot Five: Armenia, Cyprus, Faroe Islands, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Latvia, Andorra

Pot Six: Malta, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar, San Marino

Roberto Mancini has led resurgent Italy back into the top 10 of the FIFA rankings after a four-year absence.

The Azzurri are four-time World Cup winners but last featured in the higher echelons in the August 2016 rankings.

Failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup during Gian Piero Ventura's reign demonstrated their decline, but Mancini, who turned 56 on Friday, has engineered an impressive turnaround in fortunes.

Italy were 20th on the FIFA list when Mancini took over as head coach in May 2018, but winning all 10 of their Euro 2020 qualifying matches not only re-established them as a major force, it has seen their ranking soar.

Italy have reached the Nations League finals and are now unbeaten in 22 matches, their best such run since the year they won the World Cup in 2006.

They enjoyed an 11-game winning streak within the current sequence and will be seeded for the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

Mancini praised his squad's efforts earlier this month, saying on RAI Sport: "The players have done a great job because it has not always been easy.

"We have tried to become more offensive with our play. You have to have the right mentality to do so and have a style of play that all the great teams have."

Italy climbed from 12th to 10th place in the new rankings, while Mexico also jumped two places, rising to ninth.

For Mexico the wait to rejoin the top 10 had been even longer than it was for Italy - with a nine-year span since they last featured.

Belgium remain top of the list, ahead of France and Brazil.

 

FIFA rankings top 10: 1 Belgium, 2 France, 3 Brazil, 4 England, 5 Portugal, 6 Spain, 7 Argentina, 8 Uruguay, 9 Mexico, 10 Italy.

Mourners and police clashed at the funeral of Diego Maradona as thousands gathered to bid farewell to the football legend on Thursday.

The Argentina and Napoli great, who underwent brain surgery earlier this month, died of natural causes at the age of 60 on Wednesday.

His body is lying in honour at Casa Rosada - the presidential mansion in the heart of Buenos Aires - during three days of national mourning in his homeland.

Maradona's coffin was draped with Argentina's national flag and football shirt, which bared his trademark number 10 on the back.

Thousands of people wishing to pay their respects joined the line at the Plaza de Mayo square, with the first in line allowed to enter the building at 06:00 local time (09:00GMT). 

The wake was scheduled to last for 10 hours, with the first few reserved for Maradona's family and former team-mates.

However, as the numbers continued to swell, officers in riot gear struggled to contain the crowds and Argentine outlet Clarin reported tear gas and water cannons being used.

Footage emerged on social media of bottles and fences being launched near Maradona's temporary place of rest.

Maradona is to be buried at the Jardines de Bella Vista cemetery on the outskirts of the city, which is reportedly where his parents were laid to rest.

Fans of Maradona's former clubs also paid tribute to the legendary attacking midfielder, with makeshift shrines set up in Naples, Seville and Barcelona.

Speaking on Thursday, meanwhile, Maradona's lawyer Matias Morla called for a full investigation into the circumstances that led to his death.

"It is inexplicable that for 12 hours my friend has had no attention or check-up from the personnel dedicated to these ends," he added on the statement on Twitter.

"The ambulance took more than half an hour to arrive, which was a criminal idiocy."

Maradona, who captained Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986 and went on to coach his country, is survived by five children and his former wife, Claudia Villafane, who he split with in 2004.

Argentinians queued through the night before saying a last farewell to Diego Maradona as the superstar's body lay in state in Buenos Aires.

The Casa Rosada, which is the presidential mansion in the heart of Argentina's capital, has been given over as the focal point of mourning as the country reels from the loss of the 1986 World Cup-winning captain.

Maradona, who starred in Europe with Barcelona and Napoli, died on Wednesday of natural causes. He recently underwent brain surgery, after being admitted to hospital due to concerns over anaemia and dehydration.

As large numbers joined the line at the Plaza de Mayo square, the first in line were allowed to enter the building at 06:00 local time (09:00GMT). The wake was due to last for 10 hours.

The newspaper La Nacion reported pushing and running amid the clamour, with admirers of Maradona, many wearing masks amid the coronavirus pandemic, eager to be among the first to file past his body.

It said Maradona would be buried at the Jardines de Bella Vista cemetery, which is reportedly where his parents were laid to rest.

According to the newspaper, relatives of Maradona and footballers including Carlos Tevez and Martin Palermo, along with former team-mates of Maradona, had already paid their respects in person before the mansion was opened to the public.

Maradona's body lay in a wooden coffin, with a flag of Argentina on top, together with a shirt of the national team and one of Boca Juniors, the club he played for in two separate spells.

Many of those who entered the building blew kisses and applauded, with some throwing shirts towards the coffin.

Television coverage showed those who stopped for more than a couple of seconds being moved on by security staff.

Argentina's president Alberto Fernandez said of Maradona: "Diego was Argentina in the world, he filled us with joy and we will never be able to pay him so much joy.

"The best thing about Diego is that he was an absolutely genuine man, he was not a fake man, he was a genuine man who expressed everything with the force with which he played football, defended what he wanted, mistreated what he hated. That was Maradona in its purest form."

It was from the balcony of the Casa Rosada that Maradona celebrated Argentina's World Cup triumph with the people of the country.

Elsewhere in the city on Thursday, banners declaring thanks for the career of Maradona hung from buildings, and video screens showed highlights of his playing career.

Diego Maradona's death made headlines across the globe as the world marked the passing of the Argentinian football legend.

The 60-year-old died in Buenos Aires on Wednesday, two weeks after being discharged from hospital having undergone a routine operation for a subdural haematoma.

After that news was announced by the Argentine Football Association, tributes flooded in for the Napoli great and on Thursday news of his death made front and back pages all over the planet.

Here is a collection of headlines on the day after Maradona's death.

 

In his home country, the newspaper Cronica superimposed Maradona atop the World Cup trophy, back turned and walking away, under the headline "Adios" (goodbye).

Clarin ran a picture of Maradona holding the World Cup aloft, with the words "Conmocion mundial: murio Diego Maradona" (World upheaval: Diego Maradona dies).

Uruguayan outlet El Observador went with "A que planeta te fuiste" (Which planet did you go to?), in reference to his otherworldly talent.

El Pais, a Spanish newspaper, said the former Barcelona forward was "Un dios del football" (A God of football).

Also in Spain, Marca's front page featured the words "If I die, I want to be reborn and I want to be a footballer... and I want to be Diego Armando Maradona again".

In France, L'Equipe ran a full front-page image of Maradona in his prime wearing the blue and white of his country, with a headline which declared "Dieu est mort" (God is dead).

Germany's Kicker dedicated its front page to the news, putting the dates of Maradona's birth and death under a picture of the star playing for Argentina.

La Gazzetta Dello Sport showed Maradona kissing the World Cup trophy and went with the words "Ho visto Maradona" (I've seen Maradona).

It was against England that Maradona scored his famous 'Hand of God' goal as he led Argentina to World Cup glory at Mexico 86. English newspaper The Sun was among the outlets to play on that phrase, coined by the man himself.

"In the hands of God," read that publication's front page, which featured an image of the incident as the diminutive forward beat England goalkeeper Peter Shilton to the ball. The paper described Maradona as "England's World Cup nemesis and one of the all-time greats".

The Mirror ran a similar headline, adding: "Diego Maradona, a hero, a villain, a cheat and a genius... dead at 60".

Placing a little more emphasis on his achievements, The Times opted for a picture of Maradona celebrating that 1986 success in Mexico City, accompanied by the headline "Millions mourn Maradona's death".

And the Daily Express, using both the handball and trophy photographs, described Maradona as "the eternal, flawed genius".

Peter Shilton was "saddened" to learn of the death of Diego Maradona but remains vexed by the Argentina great's Hand of God goal against England at the 1986 World Cup.

At the age of 60, Maradona died on Wednesday, leaving Argentina and the football world in shock.

Ill health and drug addiction had plagued the former Barcelona and Napoli star following his playing days, and he recently underwent surgery for a blood clot on his brain.

Tributes have been paid by the likes of Pele, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Shilton has more reason than most to feel a sense of antipathy towards Maradona, who punched the ball past him for Argentina's first goal in their 2-1 quarter-final win against England 34 years ago.

Shilton told the Daily Mail: "It has bothered me over the years. I won't lie about that now. People say I should have cleared the ball anyway and that I let a smaller man outjump me. That's rubbish. He had the run on me but that can happen.

"He wouldn't have punched it if he knew he could head it, would he? Of course not. So I am OK with all that.

"No, what I don't like is that he never apologised. Never at any stage did he say he had cheated and that he would like to say sorry. Instead, he used his 'Hand of God' line. That wasn't right.

"It seems he had greatness in him but sadly no sportsmanship."

Shilton tweeted on Thursday to describe Maradona as "the greatest footballer I ever played against without question", but he told the Daily Mail that attempts to unite him with Maradona over the years had come to nothing, having been given no assurances the little maestro intended to apologise.

And although England's goalscorer in that 1986 match, Gary Lineker, has spoken fondly of Maradona, Shilton suspects many in the team that lost out that day at the Estadio Azteca share his grievances.

"Most of the England team who played in Mexico feel the way I do to this day," Shilton said.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis revealed the club's stadium could be renamed to honour Partenopei great Diego Maradona after his death on Wednesday.

Maradona – arguably football's greatest ever player – died at the age of 60 after a suspected heart attack, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) confirmed midweek.

A World Cup winner with Argentina, Maradona enjoyed great success in Naples, where he guided Napoli to unprecedented Serie A glory in 1986-87 and 1989-90 – the Italian team are yet to add to their only two Scudetto honours.

As Napoli fans and Naples natives mourn the death of Maradona – a God-like figure in the city – De Laurentiis said the Stadio San Paolo could be named after the football icon.

"It could be an idea to name the stadium San Paolo-Maradona, it's something we can think about," De Laurentiis told RMC Sport.

Naples mayor Luigi de Magistris also tweeted: "Let's name the San Paolo stadium after Diego Armando Maradona!!!"

Gennaro Gattuso's Napoli host Rijeka in their Europa League Group F clash at the Stadio San Paolo on Thursday.

Napoli are second heading into the matchday four fixture, adrift of AZ Alkmaar on goal difference.

"I'd like to project Maradona's face [onto the stadium] during the whole game tomorrow," De Laurentiis said.

Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata head coach Maradona was discharged from hospital a fortnight ago following brain surgery, having undergone a routine operation for a subdural haematoma after being admitted to hospital due to concerns over anaemia and dehydration.

Maradona, who went on to coach Argentina at the 2010 World Cup, had been hospitalised just days after turning 60.

He appeared in a fragile state when he briefly made an appearance as his Gimnasia side played a match on the evening of his birthday last month.

Maradona won 91 caps for Argentina between 1977 and 1994, scoring 34 goals at international level.

He started his career with Argentinos Juniors before joining Boca Juniors and went on to play for Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell's Old Boys before returning to Boca in 1995.

Maradona also had stints in charge of Textil Mandiyu, Racing Club, Al-Wasl, Fujairah and Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico before being appointed by Gimnasia last year.

Boca Juniors head coach Miguel Angel Russo said "the greatest of all just left us" after the death of his former team-mate, Diego Maradona.

Maradona, regarded as arguably the greatest footballer ever, died aged 60 after a suspected heart attack on Wednesday.

Russo was a former Argentina team-mate of Maradona's and the Boca coach was saddened by his death.

"I feel a big sorrow, a deep pain as he was the greatest player in Argentina and the world," he told reporters.

"I had the chance to be his team-mate for the national team and we shared many things. He gave so many things to the Argentinian people and the sport of football.

"The greatest of all just left us."

Russo shared his memories of Maradona, who led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title, with the pair having also coached against one another earlier this year when Boca beat Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata.

"The best of our memories together will stay with me. We have lots of stories together," he said.

"I feel a deep pain and a big sorrow, but we all are aware of how much he gave to the Argentinian football, his joy was all about playing."

Russo added: "There are lots of memories. When having lunch, I loved eating an orange but then he started playing with it [like a ball] and making it softer.

"So I always told him, 'Diego, I'm starving, please give me that already', as the orange never touched the ground."

Boca, where Maradona had two spells as a player, had their Copa Libertadores clash against Internacional, scheduled for Wednesday, postponed.

Russo thanked CONMEBOL for postponing the last-16 first leg.

"The squad and I were having lunch but then our mood changed on hearing the news. We just knew at the moment what we had to do," he said.

"I appreciate that CONMEBOL understood the situation for Boca. It just wasn't the right moment to play a football game."

Luis Milla recalled fond memories of training and playing with Argentina and Napoli great Diego Maradona at LaLiga powerhouse Barcelona.

Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata head coach Maradona – arguably football's greatest ever player – died at the age of 60 after a suspected heart attack, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) confirmed on Wednesday.

Maradona was discharged from hospital a fortnight ago following brain surgery, having undergone a routine operation for a subdural haematoma after being admitted to hospital due to concerns over anaemia and dehydration.

Maradona had the best years of his club career in Italy, playing a massive part in Napoli winning the Serie A title in the 1986-87 and 1989-90 seasons, having arrived from Barca in 1984.

The World Cup winner celebrated three trophies during his time at Camp Nou, where he claimed Copa del Rey, Copa de la Liga and Supercopa de Espana glory in 1983.

Former team-mate Milla, who emerged from Barca's youth team in 1984 and went on to represent the Catalan giants before joining bitter rivals Real Madrid in 1990, hailed Maradona.

"When he was there [at Barca], I was playing in the youth team and [Cesar Luis] Menotti, who was the main coach then used to organise matches every Thursday between the first team and a selection of players from the academy," Milla, who also faced Maradona during his time at Sevilla, told Stats Perform News.

"We played many games against the first team. For me, having at that at 18 years old, you can imagine the dream of playing against Maradona. Then when he came back to Spain, I also played against him when I was a Real Madrid player.

"We who belong to his era and also younger players have seen his football. Someone that has been able to win a World Cup in the way that he did, and be so important for that national team, he was so great, even though I believe that he could has been better in terms of performing if you look at his talent and peaks."

Maradona, who went on to coach his country at the 2010 World Cup, had been hospitalised just days after turning 60.

He appeared in a fragile state when he briefly made an appearance as his Gimnasia side played a match on the evening of his birthday last month.

Maradona won 91 caps for Argentina between 1977 and 1994, scoring 34 goals at international level.

He started his career with Argentinos Juniors before joining Boca Juniors and went on to play for Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell's Old Boys before returning to Boca in 1995.

Maradona also had stints in charge of Textil Mandiyu, Racing Club, Al-Wasl, Fujairah and Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico before being appointed by Gimnasia last year.

From the slums of Buenos Aires to the face of football. Former England midfielder Peter Reid hailed Diego Maradona following his death.

Maradona – arguably football's greatest ever player – died at the age of 60 after a suspected heart attack, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) confirmed on Wednesday.

Argentina and Napoli great Maradona was discharged from hospital a fortnight ago following brain surgery, having undergone a routine operation for a subdural haematoma after the World Cup winner was admitted to hospital due to concerns over anaemia and dehydration.

Reid came up against Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata head coach Maradona on the international stage and he told Stats Perform News: "He is like, in Argentina and Napoli – Naples – he is like God. He is like the King, royalty and that's Diego Maradona.

Englishman Reid also recalled Maradona's infamous 'Hand of God' goal and his stunner against England at the 1986 World Cup.

Hailed by many as the greatest goal of all time, Maradona picked up the ball inside his own half and dribbled past four England players before calmly rounding Peter Shilton in the quarter-final clash – Reid one of the players left behind during the mesmerising run.

The moment of magic arrived four minutes after Maradona handled the ball and scored as Argentina eventually went on to claim the World Cup 34 years ago in Mexico.

"Well, he cheated, he cheated in the first goal," Reid said. "The second was an artist at work, at the best of his ability. I got to talk to him – through an interpreter – on a couple of occasions. He was a very warm human being and I think his legacy – I think he was a flawed character, I think his drug abuse was well known and that might have caught up with him.

"But, I tend to go on the positives, on what he did on the football pitch; and what he did for the nation; and what he did for the likes of Napoli and Boca Juniors. I mean, you watch a game for Boca Juniors and there's still flags for him and there's flags in Naples about him. I mean the legacy is magnificent. So yeah, a flawed character, but was that because he didn't get any privacy?

"Don't forget he was born in the slums of Buenos Aires and he made his way up to the pinnacle of his career. You've got to give him all the credit in the world for that. Yeah, we are all human beings and we have all got faults. I tend to look at his plus points, which is [that] he was one of the greatest players to ever walk the planet."

Maradona, who went on to coach his country at the 2010 World Cup, had been hospitalised just days after turning 60.

He appeared in a fragile state when he briefly made an appearance as his Gimnasia side played a match on the evening of his birthday last month.

Maradona won 91 caps for Argentina between 1977 and 1994, scoring 34 goals at international level.

He started his career with Argentinos Juniors before joining Boca Juniors and went on to play for Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell's Old Boys before returning to Boca in 1995.

Maradona had the best years of his club career in Italy, playing a massive part in Napoli winning the Serie A title in the 1986-87 and 1989-90 seasons.

Playmaker Maradona also lifted the UEFA Cup with Napoli in 1989 and he won three trophies during his time at Barca – including the Copa del Rey in 1983.

Maradona also had stints in charge of Textil Mandiyu, Racing Club, Al-Wasl, Fujairah and Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico before being appointed by Gimnasia last year.

"At Barcelona I think injuries hindered him," Reid added. "But when he went to Napoli, 'wow'. I mean, if you go to Napoli, he is like – is it fair to say God? He is like a God there. I mean I know it is a ridiculous statement, but he is!

"And the other thing, I went to Argentina an awful lot watching football when I was a manager and a coach in Buenos Aires. And if you ask 99.9 per cent of Argentinians who the best player ever was, they will say Diego Maradona. Now why I am saying that is because of Lionel Messi who, let's have it right, is unbelievable. But, am I going to argue with Argentinians? No, no."

Marseille head coach Andre Villas-Boas urged FIFA to "withdraw the number 10 for all competitions" to honour Diego Maradona.

Maradona, widely regarded as one of the best players of all-time, died at the age of 60 on Wednesday after a suspected heart attack.

He starred in the number 10 for Napoli and Argentina during his playing career, and the shirt was retired by the Serie A club in his honour in 2000.

Villas-Boas wants to see FIFA go one step further and withdraw the number 10 completely.

"For Maradona, it's a hard blow. I would like FIFA to withdraw the number 10 for all competitions, all teams," he told a news conference after Marseille's 2-0 Champions League loss to Porto on Wednesday.

"I think it's the best tribute that can be given to the greatest player in the history of football. It is an incredible loss for the world of football."

Villas-Boas said he would always remember his one meeting with Maradona.

"Yes, I met him once. He was a guest at the Pinetina, the Inter Milan sports centre, when I was there," he said.

"And I remember this photo, next to my trophies in Porto. Because of that, I bought a watch when Hublot had them signed by Maradona. And this watch came with a jersey signed by him that I still keep. These are good memories.

"But Maradona wasn't just that. It's his genius from the world of football, the images he leaves us, the image of his warm-up in Naples, those kinds of things that are extraordinary.

"It's a loss for everyone. I only met him once, next to each other, it's a moment I won't forget."

Maradona, the captain and inspiration behind Argentina's World Cup success in 1986 before going on to coach his country at the 2010 showpiece, had been hospitalised just days after turning 60.

He appeared in a fragile state when he briefly made an appearance as his Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata side played a match on the evening of his birthday last month.

Maradona won 91 caps for Argentina between 1977 and 1994, scoring 34 goals at international level.

He started his career with Argentinos Juniors before joining Boca Juniors and went on to play for Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell's Old Boys before returning to Boca in 1995.

Maradona had the best years of his club career in Italy, playing a massive part in Napoli winning the Serie A title in the 1986-87 and 1989-90 seasons.

Playmaker Maradona also lifted the UEFA Cup with Napoli in 1989 and he won three trophies during his time at Barca – including the Copa del Rey in 1983.

Maradona also had stints in charge of Textil Mandiyu, Racing Club, Al-Wasl, Fujairah and Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico before being appointed by Gimnasia last year.

Diego Maradona dragged Argentina to World Cup glory, triumphed in Italy and Europe with Napoli and won countless individual honours.

Along the way, the footballing great – who died on Wednesday at the age of 60 – scored some of the greatest goals the game has ever seen.

No matter the occasion, or indeed the opponent, Maradona was often unplayable – as can be seen from our selection of his five greatest ever goals.

 

Argentina v England (June 22, 1986)

Hailed by many as the greatest goal of all time, Maradona picked up the ball inside his own half and dribbled past four England players before calmly rounding Peter Shilton.

The moment of magic arrived four minutes after the infamous 'Hand of God' goal and helped Argentina into the semi-finals of the 1986 World Cup, which they went on to win.

 

Argentina v Belgium (June 25, 1986)

The goal scored by Maradona three days later, this time in the semi-finals, was not too dissimilar in that he had four opposition players between himself and the goal.

He slalomed between two of them, jinked past another – in the process taking out a fourth – and fired past Jean-Marie Pfaff for his second goal of the contest.

Napoli v Juventus (November 3, 1985)

Napoli ended their 12-year wait for a league victory over rivals Juventus thanks to Maradona's brilliance of a different kind. If the previous goals were all about neat footwork and clinical finishing, this was more to do with sheer audacity.

A large wall, set five metres from the ball, was not enough to stop the Argentine maestro delicately lifting the indirect free-kick into the one spot Stefano Tacconi could not reach.

Napoli v Hellas Verona (October 20, 1985)

This one was all about the technique - and the confidence to even think about taking it on. Maradona brought down the ball with his first touch, turned and sent a long-range drive flying over Giuliano Giuliani from a good 40 yards out.

What made it all the more special is that this strike came in a 5-0 thrashing of Verona, who were the reigning Serie A champions at the time.

Boca Juniors v River Plate (April 10, 1981)

Maradona spent a season with Boca Juniors before arriving in Europe and it soon became clear what a talent he would become.

His first spell at the club may have been short but he left behind plenty of memories, including a goal at the home of bitter rivals River Plate. With the angle against him, he squeezed in an effort with a masterful finish from the wing.

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