Buenos Aires, Argentina Against the background of loud chants about sending a football legend who had left too early, Wilson Cisnero leaned against a brightly painted brick building with a simple, small sign on it. “God is with God,” he wrote, interrupted by the number 10.
The 25-year-old drove two kilometers to the famous La Boca district in Buenos Aires because, like many others, he did not know where else to go when he heard that Diego Maradona had died.
Crowds gathered in front of La Bombonera, home of Boca Juniors, one of the most famous football clubs in Argentina, which once considered Maradona as its star.
“Argentina is Maradona,”
The same pain was written on the faces of Argentines on Wednesday as the nation battled his unexpected death. To the world, he was Maradona. To Argentina, he was El Diego, a kid who grew up in slums, blinded on the field like no other, dominated the sport and brought fame to the World Cup, which is yet to be repeated in Argentina.
Maradona suffered a cardiac arrest at his home north of the capital, Buenos Aires, on Wednesday. He had recently undergone brain surgery, pushing health concerns into the news. He was 60 years old.
“It’s something you can’t describe,” said Rafael Bellido, 49, sitting on the steps of La Bombonera next to his partner Marcela Reynoso as they shared a partner, a traditional Argentine. “El Diego was the man who presented us best,” he said. “When he played and you watched and wanted to swear, he would swear. He reflected us. In addition to all the things he did on the field. “
“Now is the time for Argentine society to return all the joy it has given us,” he added. “And how long we enjoyed it. Long time. Every time he touched the ground. You can’t describe it. “
As taxes came from around the world, President Alberto Fernandez declared three days of national mourning, canceling all commitments as the government prepared to hold a wake-up call at the presidential palace. The government expects a million people to pay their last respects. Government buildings will be lit in the colors of the Argentine flag in his honor.
In a statement, Fernandez said it was the happiness of Argentines to be able to survive the Maradona era, see his greatness and enjoy his love.
“I doubt we will ever see another player like Maradona in any way, not only because of his technical qualities, but also because of this courage, this strength, this sandiness that he showed every time he put on the shirt he had to defend. . An exceptional player who brought us only joy, “he said.
“Maradona was a real man, he defended what he believed in,” the president added. “He is a good example of what ordinary Argentines are, so visceral. First of all, I always emphasized that he was never a fraud – he says what he doesn’t like. “
By mid-afternoon, hundreds of people had gathered at the foot of the obelisk in Buenos Aires, singing Maradona’s praise as a giant banner showing his face fluttered in the wind. Outside La Bombonera, crowds erupt in periodic songs and dances.
“Diego is not dead, Diego is not dead, Diego lives in the village,” the crowd chanted. Everyone had their own story, their reason for being there, and what it meant to them. His incredible highs and lows, which he also experienced, were also theirs.
“There will always be critics,” Reynoso said. “The important thing is that he found his own happiness.”
Diego Covello, who is considered a member of the Maradona Church, founded by fans in 1988, pasted a poster of Maradona in a Boca Juniors shirt outside the stadium. He and several friends held a vigil in front of the clinic during the hospital’s recent admission to the football legend.
“If we were there in good times, of course, we should be there in bad times,” Kovelo said at the age of 35.
Joshua Mustafa, 24, saw children playing football on the way to La Boca and thought, “This is Maradona’s legacy.”
This will remain with everyone – both young and older people. “
Blanca Salursi, standing under a giant El Diego mural in La Boca, recalled seeing him play as a young man in one of Buenos Aires’ dumb cities.
“I also came from the slums, and you climbed from the bottom,” the 60-year-old said. And with a twinkle in her teary eyes as she turned to leave, she said, “Never forget that he was the best he had.”