Famous for his ‘Hand of God’ goal | Daily News


Famous for his ‘Hand of God’ goal


He was popularly and fondly called the ‘GOLDEN BOY’. That was the football genius from Argentina DIEGO ARMADO MARADONA who mesmerized the football world during a career that had the world focused on him for his out of this world dribbling skills with the ball at his feet.

When the genius was in action playing for his club or country he was the cynosure of all eyes as he had the uncanny ability to beat a host of defenders with his marvellous dribbling skills, even lure the goalkeeper to go the wrong way and hit the net.

Hitting the net is what football is all about and from the time he took to kicking a football as a youngster still not even is his teens he showed tremendous skill and footballers, fans and coaches who watched his artistry predicted that one day he will have the football world at his feet. And they were proved right.

Stunning career

MARADONA during his stunning career was described as one of the greatest players in the game. He was to Argentina and the world what PELE was to Brazil and the world.

MARADONA was born on October 30, 1960 in Buenos Aires Province and grew up there. As he began to grow his love football knew no bounds. When he was just 8, a talent scout spotted his remarkable talent when he was playing for his club Estrella Roja.

Four years later at age 12 he was special stunning those who watched him play with his amazing ball play, especially in dribbling. He is on record having said that it was Brazilian Rivelino and George Best of England who inspired him during his growing up years.

First appearance

MARADONA made his first appearance at age 16 playing for Argentinos Juniors against Talleres de Cordoba wearing the number 16 jersey which number he loved. With the game a few minutes old, he feigned and put the ball through a defender’s legs for which rare action he became a legend. After turning 16 and two weeks later he scored his first goal which he still remembers with awe.

MARADONA played for Argentine Juniors for five years netting 115 goals in 167 appearances before Boca Juniors his famous and much loved club signed him on for US$ 4 million transfer. He helped them win the league title.

He made his first World Cup appearance in 1982. After that World Cup he transferred to Barcelona and came under that great coach and former player Cesar Luis Menotti and he helped Barcelona win Spain’s annual National Cup Competition.

First international

MARADONA during his tenure with Argentina scored 34 goals in 91 matches. He played his first international game at 16 against Hungary. He was disappointed when he was left out of the Argentine squad for the 1978 World Cup by coach Menotti who felt he was too young at just 17.

But an year later the great man played for Argentina in the 1979 FIFA World Youth Championships in Japan and became the star of the championships when his country won the final beating Russia 3-1.

Sepp Blatter the former FIFA President having watched MARADONA’S stellar performance in 1979 stated 30 years later- ‘Everyone has an opinion on DIEGO MARADONA and that’s been the case since his playing days. My most vivid recollection is of his incredibly gifted kid at the second FIFA U-20 World Cup in Japan. He left everyone open-mouthed every time he got on the ball’.

Golden Ball winners

MARADONA and Lionel Messi both of Argentina are the footballers to have won the Golden Ball at FIFA and U-20 World Cup and FIFA World Cup. MARADONA won it in 1979 and 1986 and Messi followed winning it in 2005 and 2014.

MARADONA played in the 1982 World Cup in Spain. Argentina met Belgium in the first game, but lost 1-0 with him unable to perform to expectations which was disappointing to a large contingent of fans who had thronged to watch his magic with the ball at his feet.

However his team beat Hungary and El Salvador and progressed to the second round. That was as far as they could get as in-fighting in the team saw them lose to Brazil and the ultimate winners Italy.

Best moment

MARADONA savored his best moment in the game when he led and steered Argentina to win the 1986 final in Mexico putting to second best West Germany. He was the cynosure of all eyes as he dominated the tournament. He scored five goals with his artistry.

In the knock out round against England whom Argentina beat 2-1, MARADONA was accused of scoring a goal with his hand. When told MARADONA described the goal as ‘a little with the head of MARADONA and a little with the hand of god’.

That goal was and is still called ‘hand of god’. At that time there was no technology as now and the referee allowed the goal although the England players disputed it.

Hit the ball purposely

MARADONA later admitted on a TV show that he had hit the ball with his hand purposely and had no contact with his head was made and admitted that he immediately knew that the goal was not a legitimate one. That incident was tagged as an international fiasco in World Cup history. However the goal stood and the England players were furious because there was nothing they could do to reverse the decision.

In the same tournament and against England after scoring the ’hand of god’ goal he scored his second goal which has been voted by FIFA as the greatest goal in the history of the World Cup.

To score that goal he ran more than half the field dribbling past five Englishmen before he beat the goalie with a body swerve to hit the net. That goal was such that it was voted the ‘goal of the century’.

Winning pass

Argentina faced West Germany in the final. With the scores level MARADONA made the match and final winning pass to team mate Jore Burruchage to hammer in the winner. This cup final victory was achieved watched by a large crowd of 115 thousand at the Azteca with MARADONA as captain.

When the World Cup ended, MARADONA was awarded the Golden Ball for being the Best Player of the Tournament. In honouring him the authorities built a statute of the great scoring the ‘goal of the century’.

The master played in the 1990 World Cup in Italy and he was suffering an ankle injury and was not his usual brilliant self. However he led Argentina into the final and was beaten by a better side West Germany 1-0.

Failing drug test

The 1994 World Cup saw MARADONA playing in only two games scoring against Greece and then was humiliated when he was sent home failing a drug test and this was his final World Cup appearance and for his country.

During his glorious career he won the FIFA Player of the Century award and many more awards too numerous to mention. MARADONA who was a staunch catholic signed and donated a jersey to Pope Francis who too is an Argentinian and the jersey is preserved in one of the Vatican Museums.

Football players of the caliber and class of the great Brazilian PELE and MARADONA of Argentina who stunned the world with their daring and artistry will not emerge again although Lionel Messi of Argentina and Ronaldo of Portugal are dominating the present world football scene.

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