Maradona died at his home in Buenos Aires this past week at the age of 60, after battling various health conditions ever since his football career came to an end in the late 1990s.
“I was very close with Diego, he was a spectacular guy,” Ronaldo said in comments carried by Marca. “He left us an incredible legacy in football.
“His loss is unfortunate and very hard. The news caught me by surprise and it was very sad. I want to send commiserations to his family and friends.
“Diego changed the lives of many people. I am and will always be eternally grateful for the inspiration that Maradona gave me.”
Ronaldo also told an interesting anecdote explaining why Maradona used to wear two watches, referring to a visit Maradona paid him when he played for Real Madrid.
“One of the first times he came to Madrid to visit me and watch a game, we had dinner,” Ronaldo said. “Diego wore two watches and the legend about his watches was that he couldn’t move without them.
“I asked him why and he told me that his daughter had given him the two watches and since then he had never taken them off. At the end of the dinner he took one off and gave it to me.
“I didn’t want to accept it, but he got angry at my refusal so I ended up accepting it. I will keep it all my life as a gesture of his generosity and kindness.”
Ronaldo said his last conversation with Maradona took place about three months ago, and they discussed a player Maradona was coaching.
“I asked him about a player of his, a midfielder,” Ronaldo said. “He told me wonders. We talked about he was doing and he was fantastic. He always wanted to help me.”
Both Ronaldo and Maradona broke the world transfer record twice in their playing careers, and were mercurial talents who were unstoppable in full flight. They were both also World Cup winners.
Ronaldo has been majority owner of Valladolid since September 2018, when he bought 51% of the club for a reported €30m. The Brazilian has reinvented himself as a businessman since retiring from football in 2011.
Featured image courtesy of Marca.