Diego Maradona’s off-field antics don’t matter in terms of his lasting legacy as a footballer and a human being, according to Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Maradona died at age 60 at his home in Buenos Aires on Wednesday after suffering a heart attack, having undergone brain surgery for a blood clot earlier this month.
The great Argentine, who led his country to glory in the 1986 World Cup final, was also being treated for alcohol dependence, and his struggles with drug abuse both during and after his playing career were well documented.
However, the former Napoli and Barcelona midfielder is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, with players such as Pelé, Gary Lineker, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp among whom have offered heartfelt tributes. . his demise.
Ibrahimovic gave his own testimony about Maradona during an interview with Sky Sports, during which he insisted that the personal demons he fought outside of football should not detract from the impact he had on the game.
“I’m very sorry, because for me Maradona is more than football. He has become a religion for many and I was lucky to meet him and talk to him, ”said the Milan striker.
“It is a symbol of what he has done on the field. I always judge him by what he did on the field, what he did outside, in my opinion, is his problem and not ours.
“We must remember him for what he did as a footballer and in my opinion, he will be remembered forever. When you see the number 10, who do you think of? Maradona.
“It is a symbol, even today there are those who choose that number for him.”
Ibrahimovic added that Maradona is an imperfect genius whose passion sets him apart from his peers at the highest level: “As a person, he did everything with his heart, there were no other motives or thoughts.
“I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do, but that’s why everyone loved him.
“He was always himself. In today’s football, everyone tries to be perfect, but to grow and learn you have to make mistakes.
“Maradona always did everything with his heart and he will always be number one.”