‘Cubans loved him’: Maradona, friend of Castro, mourned in Cuba

HAVANA, Nov. 26th (AFP) From Argentina to Naples, Diego Maradona’s death has been mourned by football fans around the world, including in Cuba where he is remembered above all as a great friend to former leader Fidel Castro, a man Maradona once said was like a “second father” to him.

The two first met when Maradona visited Cuba in 1987, following Argentina’s victory in the 1986 World Cup, and several more visits followed.

Their friendship deepened when Maradona spent four years in Havana in the early 2000s to be treated for drug addiction, and when Castro died in 2016, Maradona paid a heartfelt tribute.

“I feel Cuban, they have given me a lot of love during my illness and the fact that today I can get up every morning and I can play sport, I can talk with you, with my brothers or I can do an interview, I owe a lot to Fidel,” he said.

“He was a second father to me, a man I adore.”

In a twist of fate, Castro died on November 25, the same date as Maradona, a coincidence that has not gone unnoticed among Cuba’s citizens.

“The Cuban people are feeling the loss of the football great, Diego Armando Maradona. Precisely on a day like today, the [anniversary of the] death of our commander-in-chief Fidel Castro,” Havana resident Luis Perez told Reuters. “They are united … two greats, one from football and the other from the Cuban revolution.”