Football: Paraguay great Cabanas dies at 55

ASUNCION (AFP) - Paraguay football hero Roberto Cabanas has died after suffering a heart attack on Monday aged 55, his brother said.

The striker was a hero of top Argentina league side Boca Juniors and played alongside Brazilian legend Pele for the New York Cosmos in the 1980s.

"It is confirmed that my brother has died. He had a heart attack" in the Paraguayan capital Asuncion, Valerio Cabanas told local radio station ABC.

With his voice breaking, he said the player's sudden death took the family by surprise.

"He didn't have so much as a headache. He didn't say anything to us" to indicate he was unwell, he said.

Known in his home country as "The Panther", Cabanas played in the Paraguay side that won the Copa America in 1979.

At the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, he scored two goals against Belgium in a key group match.

He started out with Asuncion club Cerro Porteno before moving at the age of 19 to the Cosmos, where he lined up alongside Pele and Franz Beckenbauer.

He later played for America de Cali in Colombia, and for Brest and Lyon in France before arriving at Boca in the 1990s.

There he became a fans' favourite for his skills and goal-scoring and tough encounters with rival players in the Buenos Aires derby against River Plate.

"I have the great satisfaction of having played with two of the greatest footballers in the world," he once said in an interview with a Paraguayan newspaper.

"When I was very young I arrived in the United States and played alongside Pele, and when I was older I went to Argentina and had the chance to be in the team with Diego Armando" Maradona at Boca, he recalled.

Valerio Cabanas said his brother's remains would be taken to his native town of Pilar in southern Paraguay to be buried, in line with the player's wishes.