Leading figures in the football world – including a number from Everton – are paying tribute to Diego Maradona after one of the game's greatest players died at the age of 60 on Wednesday.
Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti and South American forwards Richarlison and James Rodriguez were among those to pay their respect to the Argentina legend.
Maradona's extraordinary talent and personality drove his country to success at the 1986 World Cup.
His five goals in the Mexican tournament included two in Argentina's quarter-final win over England, for whom then Everton player Gary Lineker was on target.
Maradona ran from his own half for one of the finest goals of all time against Bobby Robson's team after opening the scoring with what he would infamously christen the 'Hand of God' when punching the ball beyond goalkeeper Peter Shilton.
You were always a genius. Today is a very sad day and a great loss.— Carlo Ancelotti (@MrAncelotti) November 25, 2020
But you my friend are eternal.
Rest In Peace pic.twitter.com/jeNxXzM6s9
He completely revitalised Napoli after joining from Barcelona in 1984 and was the inspiration behind the club's Serie A championship winning seasons in 1986/97 and 1989/90 – the only two times Napoli have won the Italian title.
Maradona played in four World Cups and scored 34 goals in 92 appearances for his country.
He managed Argentina at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa after finishing his playing career with Boca Juniors aged 37 in 1997.
Maradona subsequently managed in UAE and Mexico and was in charge of Argentine club Gimnasia y Esgrima at the time of his death.
So sad to hear this news. Rest in peace Maradona 💙🌍🏆 pic.twitter.com/ZTYnF7aMmF— TIM CAHILL (@Tim_Cahill) November 25, 2020
Blues manager Ancelotti, who faced Maradona for club and country, including in the World Cup semi-final at Italia 90, tweeted: "You were always a genius. Today is a very sad day and a great loss. But you my friend are eternal. Ciao Diego. Rest In Peace."
Everton's Brazilian forward Richarlison posted an image on Twitter of Maradona wearing a Brazil shirt. Meanwhile, James tweeted: "Thanks for so much Diego. Rest in peace."
Former Everton midfielder Tim Cahill paid tribute on Twitter with a picture of a beaming Maradona lifting the World Cup trophy, adding the message, "So sad to hear this news. Rest in peace Maradona".
Lineker, who scored 40 goals for Everton in his one season at Goodison Park in 1985/86, said on the same platform: "By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time".
Yannick Bolasie, the Everton winger, captioned his Instagram shot of Maradona, "RIP to a Real LEGEND!!!! #Maradona".
November 25, 2020
Everton title-winner Peter Reid, part of the England team at the 1986 World Cup that Maradona mesmerised, gave a glowing tribute to the football great's skills.
He said: "It’s very sad news. He was one of the greatest footballers that ever walked the planet. He had his demons, but nothing could take away what a great, great footballer he was.
“Everyone goes on about his technical ability, which was unquestionably magnificent, but he had everything – physicality, strength. The only thing he didn’t have was a right foot but when you had a left peg like his, you didn’t need one! He could score a goal, make a goal, pick a pass.”
Maradona’s two goals against England in the Azteca Stadium in 1986 defined the tournament and probably defined his playing career – the first goal is forever tarnished but the second was pure genius.
“He was outstanding in 1986 and he was at the height of his very special career,” Reid recalled.
“I met him in Dubai once and through an interpreter I asked him about the first goal…and he laughed and reiterated to me that it was the Hand of God. But as bad as that one was, the second one was outstanding. And he had that in his locker - he could make people look foolish.
“He’s a great loss but he’s left a great football legacy.”