There was some devastating news in the football world on Wednesday night, as Diego Maradona died at the age of 60.
Widely regarded as one of the best players of all-time – and for many, the absolute best – Maradona was a trailblazer. Brilliant yet controversial, he was a troubled genius who revolutionised the game.
The Argentine legend spent many of his best years in Italy, coming up against Roma on several occasions. Maradona scored five goals in 12 games against La Magica – winning two, drawing six and losing four.
It could have been different, though. Before he became a superstar, Maradona was recommended to Roma by one of their own former Argentine greats, Francisco Lojacono.
It’s hard to know just how seriously Roma thought about Maradona. It is unlikely it was much, or else this story would be more famous.
Instead, the Giallorossi chose to build a project around Italian players. There is no right or wrong answer to whether that was the right choice. Roma went on to enjoy their most successful ever period in the early 1980s; so did Napoli when Maradona joined them in 1984.
While he played for a rival, Maradona was the type of player who commanded respect from everyone for what he contributed to the game.
To Roma, the feeling was reciprocal. He once described Francesco Totti as the best player he had ever seen, and famously posed with a Daniele De Rossi shirt when the Roma legend joined Maradona’s hometown club Boca Juniors in 2019. De Rossi even visited the icon at his Buenos Aires home.
Naturally, figures from the entire sporting world have been quick to pay tribute to the 1986 World Cup winner. Here are some of the tributes from those related to Roma.
A genius with the ball at his feet, and undoubtedly one of the greatest to ever play the game.— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) November 25, 2020
His legacy will live on forever.
Rest in peace, Diego Armando Maradona. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/RzhlBxUEDo
“You wrote the history of football. Goodbye Diego.”
Paulo Fonseca at his pre-match press conference
“Before I start, I’d first like to talk about Maradona. I heard the sad news and it’s such a shame. I’m so sorry because our idol has passed away, it’s such a sad day for football lovers.”
Pedro, who used to play for one of Maradona’s former clubs, Barcelona
Hoy nos ha dejado un genio del fútbol. Gracias Maradona por hacer tan grande nuestro deporte. Todo mi apoyo para su familia y amigos en estos momentos tan difíciles.— Pedro Rodríguez (@_Pedro17_) November 25, 2020
Descansa en Paz Diego pic.twitter.com/RySujKpM0g
“Today a genius of football has left us. Thank you Maradona for making our sport so great. All my support for his family and friends at this difficult time. Rest in peace Diego.”
Miralem Pjanic, formerly of Roma and now of Barcelona
“We will never forget your magic. Thank you for your football. You were already a myth, now you are eternal.”
Javier Pastore, one of the Argentines currently at Roma
“We will never forget you Diego. You will always live in our hearts and in a ball.”
Gabriel Batistuta, arguably Roma’s best ever Argentine player
Eternamente Gracias, llorando por vos. Acompaño a sus familiares y descansa en Paz ...Querido Diego— Gabriel Batistuta (@GBatistutaOK) November 25, 2020
“Thank you eternally, crying for you. I accompany your relatives and rest in peace… Dear Diego.”
Paulo Roberto Falcao, Roma’s best South American player who played in Maradona’s era
“Maradona was a demigod of football. With the ball, he was a god. Without the ball, he was a human.”
Bruno Conti, who also played against Maradona several times
“One day, at the end of a Roma match against Napoli, he asked me to go play with him. It was exciting; Diego wanted me at his side, really me. In the end I stayed in Rome and I’m happy.
“In 2005, when I took over the first team for a short time, on the eve of one of the last games, [Maradona’s former Napoli teammate] Salvatore Bagni brought him to Trigoria. He came to greet me. I hugged him again. During the press conference, I said: ‘I wanted to present Roma’s new signing.’ A door opened and Diego came out by surprise! There was applause.”
Carlo Ancelotti, who played against Maradona for Roma and Milan
You were always a genius. Today is a very sad day and a great loss.— Carlo Ancelotti (@MrAncelotti) November 25, 2020
But you my friend are eternal.
Rest In Peace pic.twitter.com/jeNxXzM6s9
On aime le football pour y voir jouer ses artistes. Maradona en était l’un des plus grands. RIP Diego 🙏🏼. pic.twitter.com/4wjYnRwY1r— Rudi Garcia (@RudiGarcia) November 25, 2020
“We love football to see its artists play. Maradona was one of the greatest. RIP Diego.”
“Goodbye Diego. Immense champion.”
Roma’s next game is against Napoli, Maradona’s former club, on what is sure to be an emotional occasion.