Thousand queue to pay their respects to national hero
The death of Diego Maradona brought Argentina to an almost complete standstill on Thursday as the nation turned its gaze to the Casa Rosada presidential palace where thousands of people queued up to file, slowly, reverently and one-by-one, past the iconic footballer’s coffin.
Tears and sobbing could be heard from the mourners of all ages and classes who had gathered from the early morning to pay their respects to Maradona as his body lay in state. Among the lamentations, football chants rang out, chief among them: “¡Olé, olé, olé, olé, Die-go! Die-go!”
Maradona’s body was held in a wooden coffin draped with the blue-and-white national flag and an Argentina strip with the No 10 that had been part of his nickname “D10S” – a play on dios, the Spanish word for “god”. Fans threw flowers, football shirts and rosaries on to the coffin while, outside, health workers distributed water among the huge crowds standing under a punishing southern springtime sun as they waited their turn to enter.
Argentina’s president, Alberto Fernández, cleared his schedule after declaring three days of national mourning on Wednesday, and accompanied the Maradona family at the Casa Rosada.
“He was someone who touched the sky with his hands but never took his feet off the ground,” Fernández said following Maradona’s death, reflecting the player’s gift for captivating hearts at home and abroad.