Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho: What did legends think of Diego Maradona?

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The sporting world is a much poorer place for the passing of Diego Maradona.

It has been a heartbreaking 24 hours in the beautiful game as we all come to terms with the tragic death of one of the greatest footballers of all time.

A three-day period of national mourning is currently taking place in Argentina with fans of the magical World Cup winner able to pay their respects as his body lies in state.

Remembering Maradona

There have also been waves of messages from some of the biggest names in football, passing on both their condolences and sharing their memories with an icon who touched so many lives.

And although we must not fight back the sadness, we must also allow this period of grieving to serve as a celebration of Maradona's life and his remarkable achievements in the world of football.

You can tell a lot about a man by not only how many people attend their funeral, but also by the way they were spoken about during their life and few individuals come more revered than Maradona.

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What stars thought of Diego

And therefore, in celebration of an incredible life that ended far too soon, it only feels apt to remember how Maradona was regarded and what some of football's greatest thought of him.

Credit to talkSPORT for having compiled so many quotes from some of the sport's finest ever players, creating, as a result, a moving tribute to Maradona's genius across his 60 years.

You can read the opinions of everybody from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to Ronaldinho and Paolo Maldini down below:

Pep Guardiola

“For my generation, Maradona is the greatest player we’ve seen and I don’t believe that will ever change.”

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Ronaldinho

“Diego Maradona was special. I always enjoyed watching him, including everything he did even before the matches.

“He was the most playful; the one I liked the most in that sense of playing with the ball. Maradona could dribble at speed towards the goal. He had such a different technique from everyone else.”

Wayne Rooney

“He’s definitely the best player there’s ever been in my eyes. He had pace, great skill and an unbelievable desire to win.”

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Eric Cantona

“Some say Pele was the greatest player of all time, but not me. Maradona will always be the greatest. He won World Cup in 1986, narrowly lost in the final in 1990 and then in 1994 maybe would have won it again had he not been banned.

“The crucial difference with Pele is that Maradona wasn’t surrounded by great players; he had to carry the team himself. If you took Maradona out of Argentina they would not win the World Cup, but I think Brazil without Pele would still have won.”

Sir Bobby Robson

“A genius, a real artist, one of the greatest players in the world. He could win a match on his own. On his own.”

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Ryan Giggs

“The best of all time? Maradona. I admired him in the World Cups of 1986 and 1990 and the arc of his career.

“Today there are so many strong players such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but the things I have seen Maradona do I have not ever seen anyone else achieve in football history.”

Jose Mourinho

“With him on the ball, you didn’t know where he finished and where the ball started.”

Zinedine Zidane

“He left his mark on me, on my mind, especially in 1986 because he was sensational at that time. It’s really at that moment that I became aware of the player he was, making differences as he did.

“He won games single-handedly. That’s the extra thing he had over the other players. In 1986, he was on another level.” 

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Lionel Messi

”Even if I played for a million years, I’d never come close to Maradona. Not that I’d want to anyway. He’s the greatest there’s ever been.”

Ruud Gullit

“The best player there has ever been, better than Pele. I watched him closely in Italy every week and he was at a different level to everyone else.

“Some of the things he did were unbelievable. He could control the ball without looking, which meant if the pass was on, he would take it.” 

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Glenn Hoddle

“For Maradona to win a World Cup on his own, and let’s face it, that’s what he did as the rest of the team were ordinary, was an amazing achievement. He was the best player I’ve seen.”

Gary Lineker

“He was head and shoulders above everyone else I’ve ever seen. I once played in a Rest of the World game, and Maradona was out on the pitch doing these tricks and all these great players – Zico, Platini, Elkjaer – were standing there with their mouths open.

“When Diego scored that second goal against us, I felt like applauding. I’d never felt like that before, but it’s true… and not just because it was such an important game.

"It was impossible to score such a beautiful goal. He’s the greatest player of all time, by a long way. A genuine phenomenon.”

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Paolo Maldini

“The greatest player I’ve ever seen, way ahead of everyone else, including [Michel] Platini, [Karl-Heinz] Rummenigge and the rest. Maradona was a cut above.”

Fabio Cannavaro

“Maradona is a God to the people of Naples. Maradona changed history. In 80 years, we had always suffered, fighting against relegation, yet in seven seasons with him we won two leagues, a UEFA Cup, two Italian Cups.

“I’m a fan too and to live those years with Maradona was incredible. Being on the pitch when they won the Scudetto was amazing.”

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We love you, Diego

Say what you like about Maradona away from the pitch, but there can be no denying that the Napoli and Boca Juniors legend was close to unbeatable on it.

While there will undoubtedly be a great number of memorials erected for Maradona in the months and years to come, I doubt any of them could possibly rival the words of those who loved and revered him.

At least we can find solace that in God going to heaven, Maradona has come home.

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