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President Higgins pays tribute...
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President Higgins pays tribute to the late Diego Maradona

President Michael D Higgins has led the Irish tributes to football legend Diego Maradona, who died yesterday at the age of 60. 

Argentina legend Maradona passed away from a heart attack in Buenos Aires.

The Uachtaráin is a keen football fan and Galway United supporter.

Like all of us, President Higgins was touched by Maradona's genius.

“It is with sadness that I and supporters of football everywhere will have learned of the death of Diego Maradona, arguably and widely regarded as the World’s greatest football player of all time.

"Football fans around the world will remember Maradona not only for his phenomenal talent for ball control, passing and dribbling, but for the vision of him on the field and the joy he brought to so many.  He was an inspiration for many a young child playing football.

"His winning of the accolade ‘FIFA Player of the Century’ in 1999 - an award he shared with Pelé - is testimony to the high regard he was, and will continue to be, held in by football fans for many years to come.

While he will be sadly missed by his family and friends at Boca Juniors, his loss will also be felt by millions of soccer fans in Argentina and across the world.”

Former Republic of Ireland international defender Dave Langan played against Maradona in an international friendly at Lansdowne Road in May 1980.

Langan told Newstalk Breakfast that he saw Maradona at close quarters.

"Before the match, Eoin Hand was the manager and he said 'I don't want him showing off out here. If you get a chance to get stuck into him, let him know he's going to be in a game'. I think after the first five minutes the ball broke between the two of us and I smashed into him. He looked at me as if to say 'is that the best you've got?' He was exceptional, the best player I have ever seen.

"His upper body strength was just unreal. You couldn't knock him off the ball and like all great players, he had this balance that he just glided past you. Then when he had the ball, his ability on the ball was just unbelievable.

"The second goal against England (at the 1986 World Cup) was probably one of the greatest of all time. I have spoken to many people about him and they have all come up with the same - he's the best in our generation."

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