ARGENTINIAN World Cup winner Leopoldo Jacinto Luque has died in hospital after a long battle with coronavirus.
The 71-year-old, whose four goals in the 1978 tournament including a spectacular long-distance volley against France helped his nation to become champions, first tested positive for Covid on December 30 after feeling ill over Christmas.
Argentina legend Leopoldo Luque, who has died from coronavirus
Leopoldo Luque scores for Argentina against Hungary in the 1978 World CupCredit: AP:Associated Press
He was told to self-isolate at his home in the Argentinian city of Mendoza for 10 days, but ended up being hospitalised after a drop in his oxygen levels.
He had been in intensive care at Clinica del Cuyo in Mendoza since January 4 but before news of his death was confirmed yesterday/on Monday local reports said medics were planning on bringing him out of a coma as he was getting stronger.
He is understood to have gone into cardiac arrest after suffering heart arrhythmia.
The former footballer, considered to be one of Argentina’s greatest ever centre forwards, was a high-risk patient because of his age and the fact he suffered a heart attack in 2007 and had a lung disease.
Luque said after being diagnosed with Covid-19: “I’m fine and am taking medication because of the lung obstruction I’ve got, but I haven’t got any symptoms.
“I have to spend 10 days self-isolating and what bothers me the most is that I can’t use the swimming pool I’ve got in my back garden.”
The former footballer played for five Argentinian clubs including River Plate between 1972 and 1984.
He scored 22 goals in his 45 matches for his country. After retiring he went into management.
His spectacular long-distance volley against France was his most memorable goal of the 1978 World Cup.
Leopoldo Luque scored 22 goals in his 45 matches for Argentina
Leopoldo Luque jumps over Erny Brandts in the 1978 World Cup final against HollandCredit: AFP or licensors
During the tournament his younger brother Oscar died in a terrible car accident as he travelled to see him play.
Alberto Tarantini, a defender in Argentina’s 1978 World Cup winning team along with the likes of former Spurs players Ossie Ardiles and Ricardo Villa, tweeted after learning the news: “Rest in peace my dear friend.
“We are all feeling a lot of pain. You’ll always be a champion. My condolences to your family.”
Ossie Ardiles, getting his ex-teammate’s name wrong in the emotion of the moment, added: “Our dear Leonardo Jacinto Luque left us.
“A key figure in our 1978 World Cup triumph. No-one suffered more than him to achieve it.
“A source of pride and great honour to have been his teammate. Impossible to have anyone better beside you.”
Luque scored four goals as Argentina won the World Cup in 1978Credit: Getty Images – Getty
Leopoldo’s younger brother Oscar died during the 1978 World Cup tournament in a car crashCredit: PA:Empics Sport
Correcting the spellcheck gaffe, he said in a second tweet: “Sorry Leopoldo (spellcheck) of course.
“With great sadness and tears in our eyes, we remember everything he did in that World Cup.
“An exceptional player, a winner, with huge confidence in his own abilities. He enthused us all.”