Argentina’s top division clubs recently paid tribute to Diego Maradona with moving pre-match commemorations.
Emotions ran high as the Argentine Primera Division staged its first matches on Saturday since Maradona died of a heart attack on Wednesday aged 60, reports Xinhua news agency.
It was a particularly difficult occasion for Gimnasia y Esgrima, the club coached by Maradona at the time of his death. Tears flowed among Gimnasia’s players during a two-minute tribute ahead of their clash with Velez Sarsfield at the latter’s El Fortin stadium. Gimnasia won 1-0 to move to the top of the Group F standings after five games.
All players and referees involved in Saturday’s five fixtures walked onto their respective pitches wearing Argentina national team shirts with a Maradona silhouette on the front and his iconic No. 10 on the back.
Before the first whistle there was a minute of applause as the song La Mano de Dios, or The Hand Of God, was played along with Victor Hugo Morales’ famous commentary of Maradona’s Goal of the Century against England.
Meanwhile, a kite with Argentina’s national colours and Maradona’s No. 10 was flown above each venue. In the center of the pitch there was a framed image of Maradona kissing the 1986 World Cup.
The tributes followed similar gestures in other top leagues across South America and Europe on Saturday.
Maradona, who died at his home near Buenos Aires, is survived by five children and his former wife, 58-year-old Claudia Villafane, whom he divorced after 20 years of marriage in 2004.
Following his death, Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez announced three days of national mourning as a mark of respect for the 1986 World Cup winner, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all-time.