All Blacks pay tribute to Diego Maradona ahead of Pumas game

All Blacks pay tribute to Diego Maradona ahead of Pumas game

New Zealand captain Sam Cane placed an All Blacks number 10 jersey with Diego Maradona's name in the center circle before his game against Argentina in memory of the soccer legend on Saturday.

New Zealand captain Sam Cane placed a number 10 All Blacks jersey emblazoned with Diego Maradona’s name in the center circle before his game against Argentina in memory of the soccer legend on Saturday.

The 1986 World Cup winner, a rugby fan, died in his sleep Wednesday at age 60, plunging his South American homeland and world soccer into mourning.

Both teams met in the middle at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle, north of Sydney, before their Tri Nations clash for the tribute.

He saw Cane symbolically placing the shirt on the ground as a sign of respect ahead of his traditional haka.

There were suggestions that Nicolás Sánchez de los Pumas’ 10 jersey could be retired for the game in honor of Maradona, who wore that number when playing for Argentina.

But he wore it as usual.

“I think he’s a legend for everyone, but in Argentina he was almost a god,” said Pumas coach Mario Ledesma, who played 84 times for his country, shortly before kickoff.

“He had the ability to bring everyone together, so we will miss him.”

Maradona was a great admirer of any Argentine sports team, and Ledesma met him several times.

“He came to many games, and he came to our locker room once after a game against the All Blacks in La Plata; we had lost on the last ball, “he said Thursday.

“I crossed paths a couple of times, but not many. He had an attraction, the world stopped when he was there.

“I watched tennis, hockey, rugby, soccer, whenever there was an Argentina jersey, he was there and he was an example of how to represent that jersey.”

Maradona was buried on the outskirts of Buenos Aires after a ceremony attended by family and close friends, following a chaotic public wake.

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