"Seve was the Maradona of golf" - Diego

Football legend Diego Armando Maradona was another of sport’s greats to pay homage to Seve Ballesteros.

“I want to send my condolences to Seve’s family,” he told Marca’s Juan Castro in a Saturday morning phone call. “The news [of his death] has really touched me profoundly. Those of us who are huge fans of his sport understand and hugely value the effort he made to stand up and fight this terrible disease.

“I met him a few times and he struck me as a normal guy, a genius who had his feet on the ground. Despite the fact that he was such a giant, he always treated me wonderfully.”

While he was once a keen golfer, Maradona no longer plays the game. But he described Seve as an historic player.

“You could say he is the Maradona of golf,” the Argentinian suggested. “The Tiger Woods phenomenon is more recent. I’m more of Seve’s era, he’s part of my generation along with other greats like [13 time world champion motorcyclist] Angel Nieto. You could say that we are from the same litter and that’s why our affection was mutual.”

Speaking of Seve’s death at the age of 54, Maradona added: “You could say that these things are distractions by God. God sometimes gets distracted and lets people go who gave others such pleasure while leaving the worst people on earth. God turned his back for a moment and Seve left us. That prevented the people from continuing to show Seve their love for him.

“I will always cherish the same image of Seve in my mind: neat and tidy with his hair perfectly coiffed… he was a young gentleman, a great. I am truly sorry and pass on my condolonces to the family.”