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Maradona is 'eternal' - Messi on Argentina legend's passing

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Kempes: Maradona one of Argentina's most mythical football legends (2:04)

1978 World Cup winner Mario Kempes shares his memories of teammate Diego Maradona. (2:04)

Argentina striker Lionel Messi mourned the death of his former coach Diego Maradona, who died of cardiac arrest in Buenos Aires on Wednesday.

"It is a very sad day for all Argentines and for football," the Barcelona star wrote on Instagram. "He is leaving us but he is not going, because Diego is eternal.

"I will hold close all the beautiful moments I have lived with him and I want to take this time to send my most sincere condolences to all his family and friends. RIP."

Maradona managed Messi on the Argentina team from 2008-2010. The two played an exhibition match together once in 2005 in Argentina.

Maradona led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title and was widely considered to be one of the greatest players of all time.

Portugal and Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo also paid his respects to Maradona, posting on his Instagram a black and white photograph of himself with Maradona and the message: "Today I'm saying goodbye to a friend and the world says goodbye to an eternal genius. One of the best ever. An unparalleled magician. He leaves too soon, but he leaves a legacy without limits and a void that will never be filled. Rest in peace, ace. You will never be forgotten."

Since ending his playing career in 1997, the ex-Napoli, Barcelona and Boca Juniors star battled a series of health issues. He was admitted to the hospital in January 2019 with internal bleeding in the stomach. He also fell ill at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where he was filmed passing out in an executive box at the Argentina-Nigeria game.

In 2004, he was hospitalised with severe heart and respiratory problems related to a long battle with drug addiction. He underwent two gastric bypass operations to control his weight and also received treatment for alcohol abuse. He was released from the hospital on Nov. 11 after undergoing emergency surgery for a subdural haematoma several weeks ago