Stunned Argentines were plunged into grief Wednesday by the death of Diego Maradona, a sublimely gifted sporting hero.

Iran Press/America: The news fell like a hammer blow a nation beaten down by months of economic crisis and the health pandemic, but one where soccer is seen as a panacea for all ills, AFP reported.

Fans searching for a place to grieve gravitated towards the Obelisk landmark in the center of Buenos Aires -- and, of course, the Bombonera, the steep-sided cauldron of a stadium that is home to Boca Juniors, where Maradona's genius was forged.

"I can't believe it. It's incredible. One thinks one gets through any storm, but no, everyone ends up being mortal. It feels like a bad dream. A joke," Francisco Salaverry, 28, told AFP.

Photo: The Daily Star

"Today's a bad day. A very sad day for all Argentines," President Alberto Fernandez summed up in an interview with sports channel TyC, after declaring three days of national mourning.

All around the city, the mourning had already begun as fans stood forlornly beside banners in homage to the Number 10, showing Maradona -- who died aged 60 of a heart attack -- in his dashing prime.

Many of the banners simply said D10S, a play on the Spanish word "dios" for "God" that includes Maradona's jersey number.

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Diego Maradona has died of a heart attack