Ronnie O’Sullivan has paid tribute to Diego Maradona, saying the “iconic” Argentina legend "surpassed what was humanely possible".
Maradona died on Wednesday at the age of 60 after suffering a heart attack in Buenos Aires. He is regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, but was also known for his colourful life off the pitch.
O'Sullivan has also made headlines away from the table during his career and was full of praise for Maradona after his rapid opening-round win at the UK Championship.
"He’s iconic,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport.
"Maradona, Muhammad Ali, Ayrton Senna, they left their mark on the world. They had the world in their hands. He was incredible. I have always said I would prefer a short and exciting life rather than a long and beige life. Maradona definitely had an exciting life.
There’s probably 200 billion people that have come and gone in this world and there’s 10 people in the sporting world that have surpassed what we thought was humanely possible and Maradona was one of them.
"It wasn’t just the way he played, it was the passion and emotion, you just couldn’t help but get sucked into the energy he brought onto the football field, let alone the skill and the mesmeric way he did it."
O’Sullivan: Iconic Maradona had the world in his hands
O’Sullivan needed just over an hour to win his opening match at the UK Championship against amateur Leo Fernandez.
- Football world mourns Maradona
- Pain and glory: Maradona, the Argentina icon
- O'Sullivan races into second round
The Rocket says he feels sympathy for Fernandez, who had a few chances but couldn’t take any of them.
"I felt a bit sorry for Leo because coming here, like a lot of the lower-ranked players. It would be fair if they could play amongst themselves, get through a few rounds, build some confidence.
"I could have lost 6-5 as everybody knows Leo is a very good player, but he probably needs to get on a roll and get some confidence. It’s tough when you keep coming to tournaments and don’t win any matches."