Renowned along with Brazil's Pele as one of the greatest footballers of all time, the Argentine World Cup winning captain died of a heart attack, having undergone brain surgery earlier this month, a member of his entourage told AFP.
Shortly before the announcement that shocked the world, Argentine media reported Maradona had suffered a serious health setback on Wednesday and was being treated at his home north of Buenos Aires.
Excesses with cocaine and alcohol had long taken their toll on the mercurial talent's health.
The highs were crowned by his performances when he captained Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
In the 51st minute, as England goalkeeper Peter Shilton reached to catch the ball, Maradona, some seven inches shorter, jumped alongside him and with a deftness that fooled the eye, flicked the ball with his hand through the England goalkeeper's arms and into the net.
He played for Boca Juniors in Argentina before joining Barcelona in Spain and later Napoli in Italy.
Maradona married his long-time girlfriend Claudia Villafane in 1984. They had two daughters, Dalma and Gianinna, and divorced in 2004.