gary lineker maradona

Gary Lineker leads celebrity tributes to Diego Maradona after death at 60

The Match of the Day presenter shared a tribute on Twitter

Diane Shipley

Retired footballer Gary Lineker has paid tribute to legend of the game Diego Maradona, who has died aged 60 after reportedly suffering a cardiac arrest.

Taking to Twitter and Instagram shortly after the news broke on Wednesday, Gary penned a heartfelt message of appreciation for the Argentinian player.

READ: Gary Lineker releases statement following face mask controversy

Alongside a photo which showed the pair smiling together, he wrote: "Deeply saddened to hear that Diego Armando Maradona has died.

"By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time.

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

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Gary's last line is in reference to a controversial incident in which the late player scored a goal in a 1986 match in Mexico.

MORE: Gary Lineker sparks controversy with photo of eldest son on special occasion

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While other players and spectators thought Diego used his hand to steer the ball, in violation of the rules of the game, referees did not spot a problem.

Asked later what had happened, the Argentinian responded that he scored "a little with my head, and a little with the hand of God".

On Twitter, where Gary also posted the message, one fan responded to the supposed pun: "Show some respect," while another added: "Not the time to make puns, Gary." 

The star defended himself, however, writing: "Don’t be ridiculous. It’s heartfelt." 

Others commented: "So sad," "Greatest ever," and "Lovely tribute Gary."

rio-ferdinand-maradona

Rio Ferdinand also posted a heartfelt tribute

Many of the stars fans simply posted broken heart and crying emojis.

Other footballers took to social media to pay their own tributes, including England player Harry Kane, who tweeted: "Privileged to have met him. Very sad news. RIP Diego Maradona."

Rio Ferdinand also shared a photo with Diego to Instagram, which he captioned: "My 1st football hero. Very few people have impact over generations like this man did.

"The greatest, the best, the artist, the man.... charismatic, a leader... A WINNER!"

Rio went on to share how much the late footballer had inspired him, writing: "One of the main reasons why I went out on my estate to kick a ball, pretending to be Diego.

"I knew the commentary to his goals 'turns, the little squat man...leaves him for dead'... Iconic footballer, gone but will never be forgotten."

Argentine's president Alberto Fernandez has announced that there will now be three days of national mourning.

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