An Unforgettable Moment in Soccer
On the 22nd of June 1986, Azteca Stadium was filled with 1,14,580 football enthusiasts who were watching the quarter-finals between Argentina and England. The rivalry between both teams dates back to the 1966 FIFA cup. Further to the row between the football teams, Argentina and England were involved in a war in 1982 famously known as the Falkland war. The Argentinian side was being captained by the legend of the game, Diego Maradona. While the English were led by Goalkeeper captain, Peter Shilton. The referee of the match was Ali Bin Nasser of Tunisia.
After 13 minutes of the start, England let a chance slip away. But for this single attempt, the match was more poised towards Argentina with aggressive attacks by them. At half-time, the score was still 0-0 and the anxiety among the audience was high and the atmosphere was electrified with the presence of players like Diego Maradona, Sergio Batista, Peter Shilton, and Gary Lineker.
In the second half, within six minutes Maradona passed the ball to Valdano and dashed towards the penalty area for the return. But the ball found Steve Hodge and when he tried to hook the ball and erred in doing so. Goalkeeper Peter Shilton came forward to clear the ball. A much shorter Maradona caught the looping ball and jumped as if to head the ball but deflected it with stretched out left hand into the goal. From the angle the referee saw the proceedings, the Tunisian found the goal to be legal as there was no evidence that Maradona has used his hand instead of the head. In those times it was not allowed to override the decision of the referee using technology.
Just after a gap of 4 minutes, Valdano passed the ball to Maradona and he started a dribbling dash past four outfield players of England, Peter Beardsley, Peter Reid, Terry Butcher (twice), and Terry Fenwick to finally pass the ball into the goal beyond Shilton. This is arguably the best goal in the history of soccer and is also known as “the goal of the century” which gave Argentina a 2-0 lead. Later, Gary Lineker scored his sixth goal of the tournament yet inconsequential to the outcome of the in the 81st minute converting the cross fed by John Barnes. Eventually, Argentina won the quarter-finals and went ahead to win the cup beating West Germany in the finals.
It was observed the magnificence of Maradona in scoring the second goal has left soccer fans awe-struck and forgetting the disgrace of the first goal. But Diego Maradona felt otherwise and said that the first and infamous goal was scored “a little with his head, and a little with the hand of God” in his post-match statement. Though there have been a variety of responses to the first goal which many expressed as cheating Diego was never apologetic or agreed that he had cheated in this case. He said it was not a deliberate attempt and he claims that the ball has hit his hand but not otherwise. He went on it says it was luck that the referee could not see it and they were awarded a goal.
‘The Sun’ mentioned that the goal should have been coined as the goal by the devil’s hand rather than the hand of God, as it was made famous. In 2005, a television program stated that Maradona confessed the goal to be scored by his hand. In response, Maradona denied any such confession or apology for something which happened so long ago. Incidentally in his autobiography, he wrote, “Now I can say what I couldn’t at that moment, what I defined at that time as The Hand of God. What a hand of God? It was the hand of Diego!”