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Michel Platini: Maradona was the 'greatest football lover'

In this May 23, 1998 file photo, Argentinian soccer star Diego Maradona, left, Pele of Brazil, center, and France's Michel Platini pose while shaking hands during Platini's jubilee at Nancy stadium, eastern France. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

BRUSSELS (AP) -- France great Michel Platini, one of Diego Maradona's fiercest rivals in the Italian league during the 1980s, calls him "the greatest football lover there was."

    In a message to The Associated Press on Thursday, Platini added Maradona was "a child king. He was a bit excessive in all things, but the most important thing is that he was excessive on the pitch and it was beautiful."

    Maradona died on Wednesday from a heart attack, aged 60.

    Platini, who is 65, and Maradona played against each other at club level at a time when the Italian league was arguably the best in the world. Maradona arrived at Napoli in 1984, two years after Platini signed with Juventus.

    Maradona, who scored 115 goals for Napoli in 259 matches, helped the club challenge Juventus' supremacy, winning its first two Serie A titles and the 1989 UEFA Cup.

    Platini won two Italian leagues and the 1985 European Cup with Juventus. In his last season there, he was runner-up to Maradona when Napoli won its first Serie A in 1987.

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