Typical England #4 – Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’

No World Cup moments montage would be complete without mentioning possibly the most controversial goal in footballing history, and it had to be against England- typical.

It was 1986 and England were in another Quarter Final, this time against the blue and white stripes of Argentina in Mexico City. The rivalry bubbled up before the game with clashes between supporters outside creating a tense and fierce atmosphere inside the Estadio Azteca, so wouldn’t it have been fitting for more mayhem on the pitch.

The first half came and went with Argentina being kept at bay by a stern England defence lead by goal-keeping-great Peter Shilton.

But it was what happened next in the second half where two moments of genius in two different ways decided the game and perfectly fitted the phrase ‘it’s a game of two halves’.

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Only six minutes into the second half and an utterly unique moment was etched into the sporting history book.

Diego Maradona ran at England in his typical mesmeric manner cutting in from the left and attempted to play a one-two with teammate Jorge Valdano, continuing his burst into the box with the hope of a return pass. Steve Hodge saw what was happening and tried to drop in and defend, but the left winger miscued his attempt of a clearance and hooked the ball over his head into the path of the Argentinian maestro.

At this point though it would’ve seemed Shilton would be comfortable as the ball was well in the air, the keeper’s territory. His 6-foot 1 frame stacked the odds well in his favour with Maradona being a whole 8 inches shorter as the two contested for the ball. But somehow the ball ended up in the back of the England net still and Maradona flew away to celebrate wielding his fist into the air.

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How did this happen? All in a punch. As Maradona jumped for the ball, his hand followed his head and he simply dinked it over Shilton, completely cheating his way to a goal. It appeared everyone had seen this as England rioted at referee Ali Bin Nasser letting him know what had just unfolded. However, the clever way the little Argentinian had pulled off his trick had fooled him, and the goal was awarded, 1-0.

Maradona later said about the event: “I was waiting for my teammates to embrace me, and no one came… I told them, ‘Come hug me, or the referee isn’t going to allow it’.” One things for sure a hug was the last thing on any Englishman’s mind.

You cannot fault his honesty though, and he perhaps naively stated at the post-match press conference that the goal was scored un poco con la cabeza de Maradona y otro poco con la mano de Dios” (“a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God”).

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The goal added fuel to the heavily burning fire of rivalry between the two nations as England felt cheated out of a possible World Cup triumph in the most bizarre of ways.

Four minutes later and Maradona turned from evil genius to simply genius as he dribbled past a seemingly infinite amount of men in white and scored the ‘goal of the century’, but that’s for another time.

The game finished 2-1 courtesy of a late Gary Lineker strike and England were out of the World Cup from two of the most unique goals ever. There is a reason why this series is called ‘Typical England’.

Should Maradona have been punished for his handball? Would he be able to get away with that sort of rule breaking in today’s game? Let me know in the comments below and in the forums!


Images within the piece courtesy of Getty Images

Featured Image created by Charlie Pumfrey

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