Maradona: Thousands of mourners gather as football superstar's coffin driven to funeral

Argentinians lined the streets of Buenos Aires and sang in honour of Diego Maradona ahead of the football superstar's funeral.

Only family members and close friends were permitted at the Jardín Bella Vista cemetery for burial of Maradona next to the graves of his parents, Dalma and Diego.

Dozens of fans, some draped in Argentine flags or wearing Maradona shirts, cried as they sang in honour of their World Cup winning hero. Others screamed in anguish as they were overcome with emotion.

Many tried to touch the vehicle whenever it stopped in traffic as Maradona headed to his final resting place.

As the viewing of at the Argentine presidential mansion was stopped, tensions boiled over between those waiting to pay their respects to the footballer. Some fans threw rocks and other objects at police, who responded with rubber bullets.

The sheer size of the crowds overwhelmed organisers and the violence resulted in injuries and arrests, which led Maradona's family to end public visitation.

The casket was placed in a car that carried the former footballer’s name on a paperboard by the window.

Desperate to say goodbye, Maradona’s fans climbed on the fences of the presidential mansion as if they were in a soccer stadium, while firefighters worked to clear the ground.

Diego Maradona holds up the World Cup in 1986 Credit: Carlo Fumagalli/AP

“Diego is not dead, Diego lives in the people,” people chanted as the coffin was taken to a cemetery outside Buenos Aires. The motorcade, accompanied by police, was followed on a local highway by dozens of honking cars and motorcycles.

Hundreds of fans blocked entry to the cemetery before the arrival of Maradona’s casket, dancing and chanting as police moved in to open a way. The crowd continued making noise after the final ceremony began.

Fans lined the streets of the city to pay their final respects to their footballing hero. Credit: AP

Maradona died Wednesday of a heart attack in a house outside Buenos Aires where he had been recovering from a brain operation on November 3.

Fans wept and blew kisses as they passed the wooden coffin, some striking their chests with closed fists and shouting, “Let’s go, Diego.”