Pele, Messi And Ronaldo Pay Emotional Tribute To Maradona

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Pelé were among the first celebrities to pay tribute to Diego Maradona, who died on Wednesday at the age of 60.

Messi wrote on Instagram as quoted by Sports Central: “A very sad day for all Argentines and for football. He leaves us, but he does not leave because Diego is eternal. I keep all the good times with him and I wanted to take the opportunity to offer my condolences to  all his family and friends. RIP.

Regarded as one of the greatest soccer players, Maradona was hospitalized earlier this month after undergoing surgery for a blood clot on the brain. The surgery was successful but, just weeks later, he suffered a heart attack at his Buenos Aires home, according to reports.

Maradona, who captained Argentina to the 1986 World Cup win, scored the famous "Hand of God" goal against England in the quarter-finals.

Among many others, Brazilian football great Pele also mourned his fellow legend, saying he hoped they would "play together in the sky" one day.

Pele wrote on Instagram, with a picture of Maradona hoisting the World Cup trophy in 1986: "Sad news today. I have lost a dear friend, and the world has lost a legend. There is much more to say, but for now, may God give his family strength. One day, I hope, we will play soccer together in the sky.

Pele and Maradona, who often competed for the title of the best soccer player in the sport's history, had just celebrated their 80th and 60th birthdays respectively last month.

Juventus and Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo also paid tribute to Maradona's eternal genius.

Ronaldo tweeted, along with a picture of himself with the Argentina great: "Today I say goodbye to a friend and the world says goodbye to an eternal genius. One of the best ever. An unparalleled magician. He leaves too soon but leaves a legacy without limits and a void that will never be filled. Rest in peace, ace. You will never be forgotten.

In a statement on social media, the Argentine Football Association expressed "its deepest sorrow for the death of our legend", adding: "You will always be in our hearts."