Renowned for inspiring Argentina to win the World Cup in 1986, he was most loved at club level for his spells with Boca Juniors in his homeland and Napoli in Italy, where he won the club's only two Serie A titles.

"You are eternal in every heart in world football," the Twitter account of the Argentina national team posted alongside a picture of Maradona holding the World Cup.

Napoli's Twitter feed said: "Always in our hearts, Ciao Diego." Boca posted: "Eternal thanks. Eternal Diego."

Maradona also played for Barcelona and Sevilla in Europe and Argentinos Juniors and Newell's Old Boys in Argentina before embarking on a far less successful managerial career.

"Thank you for everything Diego. FC Barcelona expresses its deepest condolences regarding the death of Diego Armando Maradona, a player for our club (1982-84) and an icon of world football," Barcelona said in a statement.

Maradona is remembered for his masterly composure on the ball, but he was also famous for his frequent lack of control both on the field and off.

He struggled with addiction, notably to cocaine, and with his weight, in contrast to the more clean-cut image of Brazilian legend and three-time World Cup winner Pele.

"What sad news. I lost a great friend and the world lost a legend," Pele tweeted. "One day, I hope we play soccer together in the sky."

The pinnacle of Maradona's playing career came in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final, where his two iconic goals defeated England 2-1.

Both goals reflected Maradona's larger-than-life character.

For the first he punched the ball into the net for a goal he named "Hand of God", while for the second he showed incredible skill by dancing round the England team from inside his own half.

"By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time," said Gary Lineker, who scored England's goal in that match.

"After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully he'll finally find some comfort in the hands of God. #RipDiego."

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