Fans mourn the murdered former soccer player revered by Maradona as 'the best in the world'

BUENOS AIRES: Hundreds of fans paid their respects on Saturday to former Argentine soccer player Tomas 'Trinche' Carlovich, a player Diego Maradona called the best in the world, in an outdoor wake in a stadium in Rosario.

With the country locked up due to the coronavirus pandemic, fans filled the stands with red and blue masks, the colors of the club in the center of Córdoba with which Carlovich became famous, to bid farewell to a player Maradona considered his superior.

Carlovich died Friday at the age of 74 after being hit in the head during a violent robbery.

A hearse carried his coffin to the center of the field, where he stood on the grass with a ball placed on top, for his last goodbye.

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His death shocked the Argentine world. football , particularly in Rosario, the birthplace of Lionel Messi among others.

Carlovich, a player who rejected fame and preferred to play for smaller clubs, received high praise from Maradona and spoke of rejecting a Pelé approach to join the New York Cosmos in the 1970s.

Last February, Carlovich met with the former Argentine captain who was in Rosario for a game in his role as gymnastics coach.

Trinche, you were better than me, Maradona wrote when he gave Carlovich a signed shirt.