Hernan Crespo was reduced to tears when paying an emotional tribute to Diego Maradona – as a boyhood hero of the late Argentina World Cup winner called for an airport to be named after the superstar.
Maradona’s body was buried in a private funeral on Thursday after thousands gathered on the streets of Buenos Aires to mourn the Napoli great, who captained his country to their 1986 World Cup triumph.
Former Argentina striker Crespo, now coach of Argentinian top flight club Defensa y Justicia, spoke of Maradona’s passing on the night his team played out a 1-1 draw with Vasco da Gama in the Copa Sudamericana.
He told ESPN: “What Diego generated in me as a child, a teenager and after I grew up, as a professional … he has a lot to do with all of this.
“These have been two very difficult days. It is very difficult to train, talk to the boys, find words. We will try to honour him in the best way, which is by playing soccer, respecting his spirit of freedom, fun and a lot of commitment to where he is. We will try to do that.
“Everyone has their own things, their experiences. I am from the golden generation. I lived it, dreamed it and knew it. I am grateful to life for that.”
Crespo’s voice was full of emotion as he added: “The pain that I have in my soul cannot be explained.”
Maradona – arguably the greatest player of all time – died of natural causes at the age of 60 on Wednesday.
His coffin was draped in the Argentina flag at Casa Rosada – the presidential mansion where his body laid in honour amid three days of national mourning – before being transported to a cemetery.
Maradona grew up with Ricardo Enrique Bochini as a hero and the pair later played together for Argentina.
Bochini, 66, said an appropriate tribute would be to name Argentina’s main airport, the Ministro Pistarini International Airport, after Maradona.
“The Argentine airport should be Diego Armando Maradona,” Bochini said on TyC Sports.
“Maradona made Argentina known across the world. While we are a beautiful country, we know that the World Cups are always seen all over the world and many know Argentina from Maradona.”
Bochini had no doubt Argentina were going to win the World Cup, especially after Maradona’s stunning second goal against England in the 1986 quarter-finals.
“Diego was in his best moment and everyone was good,” Bochini said. “But apart from being the best player in the world, he was also as a team-mate. Always happy, happy, he made jokes with everyone. He was just one more. Besides everything, he played in Italy, but he was Argentine – Argentine. He never forgot it.”
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