Diego Maradona dies: He showed everyone how to play for the jersey, says Pumas coach Ledesma
Diego Maradona had a "magic" about him that was able to unite and excite a divided Argentina, according to Pumas rugby coach Mario Ledesma.
Speaking hours after it was announced that Maradona had died at the age of 60 in Buenos Aires, Ledesma spoke in Australia ahead of Argentina's Rugby Championship clash with New Zealand.
He highlighted the universal appeal of Maradona, saluted his attitude towards representing his nation, and told of how the footballer was a fervent supporter of Argentinians in sport the world over.
Maradona notably visited England to cheer on Argentina in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
"He had an attraction, like the world stopped when he was there," Ledesma said.
"It was like magic and he was an example of how you should play for this jersey, and to be fair he was passionate about every team. He would go and watch tennis, hockey, rugby, football, everything.
"Whenever there was an Argentinian jersey he was there and he united people in Argentina, and in Argentina sometimes it's difficult to unite people who think different."
Political instability, economic problems and social unrest have afflicted Argentina during Maradona's long career in football, which included spells in Europe with Barcelona, Napoli and Sevilla.
At the time of his death, Argentina's 1986 World Cup-winning captain was coach of top flight club Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata.
The country is now entering three days of mourning.
"He gave a lot of happiness to a lot of people in difficult times," Ledesma, 47, said.
"Obviously he's somebody that came from very little and he became the king of the world almost, so that gives hope for a lot of Argentinians that struggle and think that could be possible for them too."