Argentinian football is mourning the passing of 1978 World Cup-winning striker Leopoldo Luque at the age of 71.
Luque had been hospitalised at the Clínica de Cuyo in Mendoza before Christmas and struggled to recover from COVID-19.
Hospital sources said he had suffered a fatal heart attack and had a history of cardiac trouble.
His former striking partner Mario Kempes led tributes describing Luque as “a great soccer player, a great friend and companion”.
Kempes added: “Rest in Peace and fly high friend!”
Kempes posted a picture of the pair taken last year when they were together in Mendoza.
Osvaldo Ardiles, a midfielder in the 1978 team, insisted Luque had been an “instrumental figure of our triumph in the World Cup of 78”.
“Nobody suffered more to achieve it,” continued Ardiles.
“It was a great honour to have him as a companion.
“Impossible to have someone better by your side.”
Argentinian newspaper La Nacion described Luque as “a luminous human being and an extraordinary footballer”.
The greatest moments of his football career came at the 1978 FIFA World Cup, but were tinged with tragedy when his brother Oscar died in a road accident during the tournament.
Luque scored Argentina’s first goal of the tournament in a 2-1 win against Hungary and four days later, his memorable long-range effort proved the winner against France.