When you see the number 10, who do you think about? – Ibrahimovic

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic insists Diego Maradona's off-pitch controversies should not take away from fans remembering a man who became a "symbol" of the game.

Maradona passed away aged 60 on Thursday (AEDT), with reports suggesting he died from a heart attack.

The Argentina great – a star for Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli during an illustrious playing career – had undergone a brain operation earlier this month.

Ibrahimovic joined in paying tribute to Maradona following the news of his death, writing in a post on his official Instagram account: "Maradona is not dead he is immortal. God gave the world the best gifted football player of all times [sic]. He will live forever and ever."

Maradona had well-documented issues off the field, but Ibrahimovic is adamant he will be remembered for his achievements on it.

"I'm so sorry, because for me Maradona is more than football," Milan's talisman told Sky Italia.

"He has become a religion for many and I was lucky enough to know him and talk to him.

"He is a symbol of what he has done on the pitch. I always judge him for what he did on the pitch; what he did outside, in my opinion, is his problem and not ours. 

"We must remember him for what he did as a footballer and in my opinion, he will be remembered forever. When you see number 10, who do you think about? Maradona. 

"It is a symbol, even today there are those who choose that number for him."

Ibrahimovic believes Maradona – whose death has resulted in a three-day period of mourning in Argentina – "did everything with his heart", something which sets him apart as a unique talent.

"As a person, he did everything with his heart, there were no other motives or thoughts. I don't know if that's the right thing, but that's why the whole world loved him," Ibrahimovic said.

"He was always himself. In today's football, everyone tries to be perfect, but to grow and learn you have to make mistakes. 

"Maradona always did everything with his heart and will always remain number one."

Source Omnisport