Diego Maradona dies: He would always call me after big defeats – Mourinho

Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata head coach Maradona – arguably football’s greatest ever player – died of natural causes at the age of 60 on Wednesday.

Thousands gathered to farewell the football legend in Buenos Aires on Thursday during three days of national mourning in his homeland, where Maradona’s coffin was draped in the Argentina flag at Casa Rosada – the presidential mansion.

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Former Real Madrid, Inter, Chelsea and Manchester United manager Mourinho paid tribute to World Cup winner and friend Maradona following Tottenham’s 4-0 rout of Ludogorets in the Europa League on Thursday.

“Maradona and Diego, Maradona the world knows and the world never forgets,” Mourinho told reporters during his post-match news conference.

“I made sure that my son knows a lot about him, even being born after Diego Maradona as a player and I know my son will make sure that one day when he is a father he will not let his kids forget. It was similar with my Dad and Di Stefano.

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“I never saw Di Stefano play football, my Dad made sure I knew about Di Stefano because with this generation, we have players from my generation and Diego in my generation was what everybody knows.

“Then there is Diego the guy and that one I miss. I feel sorry that I didn’t spend more time with him, I would love. His family, his big friends and colleagues are very privileged to spend and know Diego well.

“I know him well enough and in my big defeats, he would always call me. In my victories, never but I will miss Diego. Of course I am very sad but I have a smile because with every minute I spent with him, it was to laugh.”

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.

The captain and inspiration behind Argentina’s World Cup success in 1986 before going on to coach his country at the 2010 showpiece, Maradona 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.

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