Maradona fans parade past coffin as Buenos Aires reels from Argentina great's demise

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Argentinians queued through the night before saying a last farewell to Diego Maradona as the superstar's body lay in state in Buenos Aires.

The Casa Rosada, which is the presidential mansion in the heart of Argentina's capital, has been given over as the focal point of mourning as the country reels from the loss of the 1986 World Cup-winning captain.

Maradona, who starred in Europe with Barcelona and Napoli, died on Wednesday of natural causes. He recently underwent brain surgery, after being admitted to hospital due to concerns over anaemia and dehydration.

As large numbers joined the line at the Plaza de Mayo square, the first in line were allowed to enter the building at 06:00 local time. The wake was due to last for 10 hours.

The newspaper La Nacion reported pushing and running amid the clamour, with admirers of Maradona, many wearing masks amid the coronavirus pandemic, eager to be among the first to file past his body.

It said Maradona would be buried at the Jardines de Bella Vista cemetery, which is reportedly where his parents were laid to rest.

According to the newspaper, relatives of Maradona and footballers including Carlos Tevez and Martin Palermo, along with former team-mates of Maradona, had already paid their respects in person before the mansion was opened to the public.

Maradona's body lay in a wooden coffin, with a flag of Argentina on top, together with a shirt of the national team and one of Boca Juniors, the club he played for in two separate spells.

Many of those who entered the building blew kisses and applauded, with some throwing shirts towards the coffin.

Television coverage showed those who stopped for more than a couple of seconds being moved on by security staff.

Argentina's president Alberto Fernandez said of Maradona: "Diego was Argentina in the world, he filled us with joy and we will never be able to pay him so much joy.

"The best thing about Diego is that he was an absolutely genuine man, he was not a fake man, he was a genuine man who expressed everything with the force with which he played football, defended what he wanted, mistreated what he hated. That was Maradona in its purest form."

It was from the balcony of the Casa Rosada that Maradona celebrated Argentina's World Cup triumph with the people of the country.

Elsewhere in the city on Thursday, banners declaring thanks for the career of Maradona hung from buildings, and video screens showed highlights of his playing career.

Source Omnisport