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Maradona’s World Cup absence “strange” for Messi, Argentina

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arabnews.com

DOHA: No matter what happens on the field, this World Cup will be a special one for Argentina. It likely will be the last World Cup for Lionel Messi and already is the first since the death of Diego Maradona.

The Argentine great died exactly two years ago Friday. Maradona, his nation’s beloved soccer “God,” had been a presence for Argentina at every World Cup since 1982 as a player, coach of elder statesman.

Maradona died at age 60 on Nov. 25 in 2020, a date most Argentines will never forget. He passed away while under hospital care in his home following brain surgery, and judicial authorities continue to investigate if medical negligence was involved.

Several tributes were dedicated to Maradona ahead of the 2022 World Cup, both in Argentina and in Qatar. “Diego is immortal, he is still with us,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said Friday in front of a real-size statue of Maradona unveiled at an event in Qatar organized by South American soccer confederation CONMEBOL. “What this man has done to get people to fall in love with this sport, maybe nobody else has been able to do.” Infantino said that at every World Cup going forward will be a day reserved to celebrate Maradona. “Everyone knows about the unique sincerity and charisma that Diego had,” Infantino said. “He was a great leader in Argentina, South American and the entire world.

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