Argentina soccer legend Diego Maradona, who has died aged 60, succumbed to heart failure, a source from the Argentinian Justice Ministry present at the time of his autopsy told CNN en Español on Wednesday.
The cause of death was an “acute secondary lung edema to exacerbated chronic heart failure,” the source said.
Heart failure is a chronic condition that gradually damages the heart’s ability to pump blood. Fluid can build up in the lungs as a result — a condition known as pulmonary edema. It is an increasingly common problem that can be fatal.
The Argentine Football Association confirmed Maradona’s death on Wednesday and posted a short message on its social media platforms.
“The Argentine Football Association, through its President Claudio Tapia, expresses its deepest sorrow for the death of our legend, Diego Armando Maradona. You will always be in our hearts,” it tweeted.
Regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the game, Maradona became a household name after inspiring his country to World Cup glory in 1986.
He took center stage at the tournament with a memorable performance against England where he scored an iconic goal that he later described as the “Hand of God.
“The diminutive forward out-jumped legendary keeper Peter Shilton and punched the ball into the net. Despite the obvious handball, the goal was allowed to stand because the referee did not see the foul.
Later in the game he scored one of the best goals in history after weaving his way past seven English defenders.
His glittering career was also marked by numerous controversies and his notorious lifestyle led to alcoholism and addiction.
Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez announced three days of national mourning for the passing of the superstar, and posted a tribute to Maradona on Twitter.
“You took us to the top of the world. You made us feel incredibly happy. You were the greatest of all. Thank you for having existed,” it read.
Maradona will lie in honor for public viewing at Argentina’s presidential palace, Casa Rosada, according to a statement published by the country’s official news agency, Telam.
Fans took to the streets across Argentina and in Naples on Wednesday to pay tribute to their hero.
Meanwhile, UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin said a minute’s silence would be observed ahead of all European matches this week in honor of the Argentine.”He will go down in history as someone who set football alight and thrilled fans young and old with his brilliance and skill,” Čeferin said in a statement.
Maradona’s lawyer Matias Morla earlier told CNN that the star had died of cardiac arrest. Maradona’s family has authorized an autopsy to determine the official cause and manner of death, according to a source close to the soccer star. The official autopsy results have yet to be released.
He was no straightforward icon. He struggled with drug addiction for decades. He was thrown out of a World Cup in disgrace after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Health troubles plagued him, testament to a life of excess. He did not acknowledge his son, Diego, for years. In his later life, he became estranged from his ex-wife, Claudia Villafañe, and from his two daughters, Giannina and Dalma. There were allegations of domestic abuse toward one former girlfriend. There were guns and associations with organized crime.
Maradona never shied away from acknowledging that he had made mistakes, even as he failed to stop making them. The tendency — understandable, sincere, unavoidable — as soccer reeled from the news of his death, as the eulogies flowed from Lionel Messi (“eternal”) and from Cristiano Ronaldo (“a genius”) and from Pelé (“a legend”), was to avoid his flaws and his weaknesses, to strike his demons from memory out of respect, out of affection.
And yet without mention of those troubles, Maradona’s story is not cleansed. It is contorted. Those struggles did not improve him as a player. Instead, they would prevent him from achieving all that he might have done and, eventually, shorten his career.
But if the flaws diminished what Maradona was, they burnished what he represented to those who watched him, those who adored him. That such beauty could emerge from such tumult made him mean something more; it gave him a resonance that stretched beyond even his outsize ability. His darkness sharpened the contours of his light.
Thirty-two years before Maradona was born, the writer Borocotó — editor of El Gráfico, the prestigious, trailblazing sports magazine — suggested the country should erect a statue to the so-called pibe: the dusty-faced street kid with the “trickster eyes,” “a mane of hair rebelling against the comb” and the “sparkling gaze” who represented not only Argentina’s soccer culture, but also its self-image as a nation.
Maradona was the platonic ideal of a pibe, all virtuoso skill and impetuous cunning. He captured the spirit Borocotó made immortal more than any player — more than anyone could have thought possible — not just when he was a teenager, fresh from the potrero, but throughout his career.
All of those iconic images of Maradona are monuments to the spirit of the pibe: leaping high above Peter Shilton, the England goalkeeper, the goal that he would joke — with the “Picaresque laugh” that met Borocotó’s description — was scored by the Hand of God; dancing, a couple of minutes later, through the entire England team to score “the goal of the century,” the strike that would prompt the commentator Victor Hugo Morales to declare him a “comet from the sky”; facing up to the entire Belgian team, the ball at his feet, a picture of fear on their faces.
No matter how high he flew, Maradona never strayed from his roots; he was a pibe when he first emerged, he was a pibe when he almost single-handedly dragged Argentina to the World Cup in 1986, and back to the final four years later. He was a pibe when Barcelona made him the most expensive player on the planet and when he took Napoli to not one, but two Serie A titles. He was a pibe even as he conquered the world.
That was his glory, and it was also his downfall. How, after all, could a boy who had never grown up expect to cope with the world he found himself in, with the expectation and the demands, with the idolization and the temptation? The light shone so brightly that the darkness in its wake could only grow.
Maradona himself never made excuses for his missteps, though that is not the same as atoning for them. As he told the filmmaker Emir Kusturica in 2008, he held himself responsible for all that he had done, good and bad. But he knew, too, that at some point a line had to be drawn between Maradona the person and Maradona the player.
His legacy as the former is a complex one: a brilliant, troubled individual, one who suffered pain but inflicted it, too, a boy and then a man who crumbled and cracked under the pressure of a situation he did not have the tools to survive.
But his meaning as the latter is more straightforward. Maradona encapsulated an ideal, he infatuated a nation, he turned a mere game into a form of art. The pibe is a quintessentially Argentine complex but it is one that generates global understanding: the impish, improvised brilliance of the innocent.
Maradona himself always saw soccer as his salvation, his deliverance. In 2005, in a brief phase as a television personality, he was asked what he might like to offer up as an epitaph. “Thanks to soccer,” he said. “It is the sport that gives me the greatest joy, the greatest freedom. It is like touching the sky with your hands. Thanks to the ball.”