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Lineker: ‘hopefully Maradona will find comfort in the hands of God’

Gary Lineker has paid tribute to Diego Maradona following his death aged 60, but found himself under fire from critics who were offended by his remark: ‘Hopefully he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God.’

Some of Lineker’s Twitter followers said it was ‘not the time’ for the former England footballer to make the reference, which was in relation to the ‘Hand of God’ goal the Argentinian legend scored at the 1986 World Cup.

Lineker, who now presents the BBC’s Match of the Day and also scored in the same quarter-final match in Mexico that featured the infamous goal, tweeted today: ‘Reports from Argentina that Diego Armando Maradona has died.

‘By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time. After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God. #RIPDiego.’

But the tweet did not go down well with everyone, and Brazilian journalist Eduardo Monsanto said: ‘Show some respect. Being an a**hole does not fit you, or so I thought.’ Lineker replied: ‘Sorry, where’s the disrespect?’

read also:Maradona: Reactions pour in after death of football legend at 60

Another commented: ‘Not the time to make puns Gary.’ But Lineker said in response: ‘Don’t be ridiculous. It’s heartfelt.’

The tweet had received 1,000 comments, 9,000 retweets and 72,000 likes within the first 40 minutes of being posted, with others saying Lineker’s words were just a ‘harmless, heartfelt pun’ and urged people to ‘move on’.

The pair have a history together after the Lineker tracked the World Cup winner to Buenos Aires in 2006 for BBC documentary, ‘When Lineker met Maradona’.

Lineker, during his search for Maradona in his documentary ahead of the 2006 World Cup, was told the handball was ‘cunning’ by the man himself. The Argentina hero is yet to admit to cheating.

The Argentina World Cup winner and the national team’s former manager had been in hospital in Buenos Aires after surgery to remove a blood clot on the brain earlier this month.

After his death aged 60, rewind to 1986 when Diego Maradona led Argentina to the World Cup.

Maradona is widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time and was the inspiration for Argentina’s World Cup success in Mexico in 1986.

He also led the country to the final of the 1990 tournament in Italy and managed them in South Africa in 2010.

Maradona’s successes made him a global star and a national hero in Argentina but his career was also blighted by controversies on and off the field.

His ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the 1986 quarter-finals, when he pushed the ball into the net with his hand, earned him infamy – although he followed up by scoring the ‘goal of the century’, a remarkable solo effort, in the same game.

His international playing career ended in shame when he failed a drugs test at the 1994 World Cup in the United States and he was notorious for a wayward lifestyle.

He was also banned from football in 1991 after testing positive for cocaine while playing for Napoli. However, he remained a revered figure at the Italian club, where he won two Serie A titles.

He also played for Barcelona, Sevilla, Boca Juniors and Newell’s Old Boys and was most recently manager of Gimnasia y Esgrima in La Plata, Argentina.

It is understood UEFA will hold a minute’s silence at all of tonight’s Champions League matches in Maradona’s memory.

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