Diego Maradona hails Fidel Castro as 'second father'

Cuba`s historic revolutionary leader died Friday aged 90.

Diego Maradona hails Fidel Castro as 'second father'

Zagreb: Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona on Saturday lamented the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro as the loss of a "great" man who was "like a second father" to him.

"They called me from Buenos Aires and it was a shock" to learn the 90-year-old historic revolutionary leader had died, Maradona said.

"I`m terribly sad as he was like a second father," Maradona told reporters in Zagreb, where he is watching the Davis Cup final between Argentina and Croatia.

Cuba`s historic revolutionary leader died Friday aged 90, after defying the United States during a half-century of iron-fisted rule and surviving the eclipse of global communism.

One of the world`s longest-serving rulers and modern history`s most singular characters, Castro defied 11 US administrations and hundreds of assassination attempts.

His younger brother, President Raul Castro, announced the news shortly after midnight (0500 GMT Saturday) but gave no details of the cause of death.

Fidel Castro crushed opposition at home from the moment he took power in 1959 to lead the communist Caribbean island through the Cold War. He stepped aside only in 2006 after intestinal surgery.

For defenders of the revolution, Castro was a hero who protected the ordinary people against capitalist domination.

For his opponents, including thousands of Cuban exiles living in the United States, he was a cruel tyrant.

Castro eventually lived to see the restoration of diplomatic ties with Washington last year.President Raul Castro, who took power after his elder brother Fidel was hospitalized in 2006, announced the news on national television just after midnight Friday (0500 GMT Saturday).

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