The man indelibly linked with Argentina's 1978 World Cup triumph is recovering in hospital.

Retired Argentine striker Mario Kempes has undergone heart surgery.

ESPN, for whom Kempes now works, said the 60-year-old had six bypasses during Tuesday’s operation in Connecticut and was in intensive care following the surgery.

“The surgery went perfect. Lasted six hours and he underwent six bypasses” revealed Javier Frana, former tennis player, friend and fellow broadcaster ESPN.

“Hopefully it is a fresh start, because it is a charming man and deserves,” Frana told Radio America.

The former footballer 60 years discovered heart problem almost by accident:

“I had an operation in the hip. When they were doing the previous checks, they found I had very clogged arteries, especially the right. Doctors believe that at some point I must have had a heart attack. But I never felt anything,” Kempes said a few days ago.

Kempes scored 20 goals in 43 international appearances, played in three World Cups and helped Argentina win its first world title in 1978. He was the leading goalscorer at the 1978 tournament with six goals. After a pair of two-goal games in second-round matches against Poland and Peru, he scored twice in the 3-1 win over the Netherlands in the final.