Huge crowds bade a grief-filled adieu Thursday to Argentina's favourite son Diego Maradona before he was buried on the outskirts of the capital after a farewell that at times descended into chaos.
As darkness fell, the football legend was laid to rest after a ceremony attended by family and close friends in the leafy surrounds of the Bella Vista cemetery outside Buenos Aires.
One of the greatest footballers of all time, the World Cup winner died on Wednesday aged 60, sparking mourning around the world.
"I thought Diego was immortal, I thought he would never die on us. I feel a terrible sadness for a person who made us so, so happy," said 63-year-old bus driver Antonio Ávila, as he stood outside the cemetery.
The peaceful farewell at the cemetery contrasted sharply with the sometimes raucous scenes of his send-off in central Buenos Aires that seemed somehow in keeping with the player's tumultuous life.
There, riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets in clashes with stone-throwing fans that briefly threatened to mar a day of mourning for a beloved hero.
Tens of thousands of people had queued from early morning to file past the star's coffin, draped in the Argentine flag and the player's iconic No.10 shirt, at the Casa Rosada.
But as the day wore on, fans queuing outside the palace grew increasingly impatient, and some took over a courtyard inside, where they chanted and sang, forcing officials to move Maradona's coffin and family to another room as a security precaution.
Despite an earlier announcement extending the lying-in-state by several hours, officials shut the doors, and riot police clashed with stone-throwing fans on streets around the palace, arresting several people.
Later, the hearse bearing Maradona's flag-draped coffin rolled through the gates of the presidency building and into the streets of Buenos Aires.
Fans crowded onto roadsides and highway bridges as the funeral cortege sped towards the western outskirts, surrounded by police outriders with sirens blaring.
Dozens of photographers and cameramen followed close behind on motorcycles.
Even as he approached his final resting place, he would not be left alone.
– TIMES/AFP [Reporting by María Lorente, AFP]
by María Lorente, AFP