Diego Simeone found it difficult to accept the news of Diego Maradona’s passing as he reflected on a difficult night for his Atletico Madrid side.
Maradona passed away at the age of 60 on Wednesday, his lawyer confirming he died of natural causes.
Shortly after news of Maradona’s death, Atleti kicked off against Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League, with the Group A clash ending 0-0.
Simeone was in the Argentina squad with the Napoli legend at the 1994 World Cup, having also been a team-mate of the mercurial midfielder at Sevilla in 1992-93.
“It’s hard. When they call you on the phone and tell you that Diego passed away, you think, ‘Diego cannot die’,” Simeone told a news conference.
“A myth is leaving us, an Argentine who transmitted all his rebellion to fight with his positive and negative things, but always going forward. The way to get excited about playing soccer was by looking at him.
“He welcomed me in a spectacular way in Seville, I was young. The moment they tell you about this situation [Maradona dying] you say, ‘It can’t be, he can always come out.’
“This time he could not, but he will always be with us, especially with the Argentines, he is a myth and it gives us a lot of sadness and emptiness – it cannot be. A very strong hug for his closest family and a lot of pain.”