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The Argentina great has joined the chorus of praise for his late compatriot, revealing the deep impression that the legendary footballer made on his own career

Diego Maradona has paid tribute to Alfredo Di Stefano, hailing the Real Madrid icon's impact upon his own career.

The 88-year-old Argentine, who passed away on Monday following cardiac arrest, enjoyed a glittering career in football, winning eight La Liga titles and five European Cups in 11 seasons with los Blancos.

Maradona spent two seasons at Madrid's great rivals Barcelona, who had initially claimed to have signed Di Stefano when he arrived in Spain in 1953, and the former forward revealed how influential his  compatriot had been on his own career.

"For me he was a maestro, he taught me a lot," the 53-year-old said on Telesur programme 'De Zurda'.

"I remember a lot of great moments of his and truthfully football today is grieving because a great died today, not just a player, but a person. He was a terrific person."

The Argentina national side also lamented the passing of the great forward, who played six times for the Albiceleste as well as twice for Colombia and 31 times with Spain.

"Whilst I didn't see him play, my father and grandfather spoke about Alfredo and his play a lot," Javier Mascherano said.

"He was a gift to world football, and without doubt we will miss him a lot. He did so much for this sport, and all that he left means he is a true legend."

Gonzalo Higuain echoed his team-mate's sentiments in hailing one of the greatest players of all time.

"He helped me a lot when I was younger and arrived in Madrid," the Napoli striker said.

"He was always close and treated me brilliantly. I can't say any more about my thanks and how much his passing hurts. He deserves all the demonstrations of warmth that the world of football is paying him."

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