“Thank you Diego”. The huge banner is hung on the railings that surround the Obelisk, an emblematic monument of Buenos Aires where thousands of supporters gathered on Wednesday 25 November, who came to pay homage to their “god”: Diego Armando Maradona. The genius of the round ball succumbed to cardio-respiratory arrest at home, in his house in the suburbs of Buenos Aires where he was recovering from an operation undergone in early November to treat a hematoma on his head.
“I thought he was immortal! It is a huge loss for our country. No one can ever match him, neither Messi nor any other player. Diego is our national pride, ”says a supporter, with tears in his eyes. “I have no words, it’s the saddest day of my life. Let me collect myself in peace ”, breathes a little further Agustin, who sports a huge tattoo on the back with the name of his idol written in capital letters. In front of him, giant screens broadcast the legendary goals of the “Pibe de oro” (the golden kid) to the applause of the crowd. The images of the quarter-final of the 1986 World Cup against England parade: the goal of the hand he will nickname the “hand of God” and another scored thanks to an impressive slalom, considered one of the most extraordinary goals of football history.
Throughout the night, hundreds of Argentines also flocked to the Place de Mai opposite the Presidential Palace. Photos and flowers were placed under the Argentine flag at half mast. It is here, at Casa Rosada, that the funeral vigil for Maradona’s remains will take place from Thursday. A million people are expected. “As soon as the news broke, we got in the car to Buenos Aires. We wouldn’t have missed that for the world, ”explains a group of friends who traveled two hundred kilometers to experience this historic moment. “We will wait all night, and surely several hours tomorrow before we can say goodbye to our national hero. But never mind the wait and the heat. We want to be able to tell our children later: we were there ”.