Diego Maradona and England: A Look Back at That Fateful Game in 1986

Diego Maradona

Some men are declared to be kings, some are legends, but few call themselves God. However, that’s what Diego Maradona did after scoring an extremely controversial goal against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals.

As the legendary footballer passed away at 60 on Wednesday, it’s important to look back at the game that arguably represented him more than any other.

That quarter-final match had all of Maradona: from the controversy to the beauty. England fans have long bemoaned this game due to the “Hand of God” goal.

But, quite simply, it was a moment where a little genius went down into history.

Diego Maradona and England: A Crazy Relationship

The Hand of God and the goal of the century

After a goalless first half, the Argentinian showed his controversial side in the 51st minute. A poor clearance by England’s backline looped into the air, and it seemed for all the world that goalkeeper Peter Shilton would catch it.

The Englishman stood at an impressive 1.83 metres and usually dominated his box. This time, however, he was being challenged by Maradona. While Maradona was much shorter, he jumped higher and punched the ball into the net. Despite the cheating, this was a bit of brilliant athleticism.

England manager Bobby Robson, however, didn’t see it that way. Speaking to AP after the match, he said: “No ifs or buts about it.

“Peter Shilton felt deeply aggrieved. He doesn’t like to be beaten, and it was obvious that Maradona had not got his head to it, but his hand.

“That goal, which should never have been allowed, gave Argentina the edge. It was a bad refereeing decision, and you don’t expect one like that at the World Cup level.”

Four minutes later and Maradona produced even more brilliance. Picking the ball up in his own half, the little Argentinian beat nearly every England player before slotting the ball into the net. England’s players seemed mesmerised by Maradona, who somehow produced this skill on an absolutely horrendous pitch.

Robson even dubbed it as “a miracle goal” after the game.

Maradona the Great

Maradona is an unbelievable player, a genius and a footballing God, but he will also do anything to win.

Never in the history of football has a player been able to will his team to victory like Maradona, and that’s what this game in 1986 represented.

England may have been arguably the better team, but Maradona’s genius would not allow them to win. The handball and the skill showed what was an incredible five minutes. Those minutes represent El Diego as a fighter who is immensely skilled.

People may bemoan what Maradona did with his hand in that game. However, they forget that at the heart of the story is a young boy who had less than nothing growing up, raised in a shack with no running water or electricity—unimaginable poverty.

In a way, his determination to do anything to win represents Maradona’s will to escape those conditions.

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