On 22 June 2011, around 1,15,000 fans inside the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City got to witness God in action. It was the quarter-final of the 1986 FIFA World Cup where Argentina, led by one Diego Armando Maradona, took on rivals England. The match, the first World Cup encounter between the two in 20 years, was played four years after the end of the bitter war fought for the Falkland Islands.
After an uneventful first half, the match came to life courtesy El D10s who scored probably two of the most famous goals ever scored in a FIFA World Cup match. While the first one is remembered for its controversial nature, the second goal— famously referred to as the Goal of the Century— exhibited the exemplary qualities of Diego Maradona.
It all started in the 55th minute with Glenn Hoddle giving the ball away just inside the Argentinian half to Hector Enrique. Enrique passed the ball to Maradona who showed a sublime piece of skill to get away from Peter Beardsley and Peter Reid. He strode deeper into the English half, skipping past challenges from Terry Butcher and Terry Fenwick to come face to face with keeper Peter Shilton. Maradona sold Shilton with a feint before holding off Butcher, who was brave enough to come back for more, to slot the ball into the empty net to score one of the greatest goals ever scored. The 10-second run ended with Butcher on the ground and a stunned England team unable to comprehend what they had just borne witness to.
The sheer genius of the goal was best captured by Uruguayan commentator Victor Hugo Morales. The veteran journalist's memorable description of the goal in Spanish has become synonymous with the goal itself.
"Maradona on the ball now. Two closing him down. Maradona rolls his foot over the ball and breaks away down the right, the genius of world football. He goes past a third, looks for Burruchaga. Maradona forever! Genius! Genius! Genius! He's still going… Gooooal! Sorry, I want to cry! Good God! Long live football! What a goal! A memorable run from Maradona. The greatest solo goal of all time. Cosmic Kite, which planet did you come from leaving so many English players behind, and in this process turning the country into a clenched fist shouting for Argentina! Argentina 2 England 0. Diego Diego! Diego Armando Maradona! Thank you God, for football, for Maradona, for these tears and for this scoreline: Argentina 2 England 0."
Though his side lost, the brilliance of Maradona's goal wasn't lost on England manager Sir Bobby Robson who said, "A brilliant goal. I didn't like it but I had to admire it."
Thirty years later, Gary Lineker, who scored in that match heaped praise on his former rival. "His solo effort against us was the one and only time in my whole career I felt like applauding the opposition scoring a goal."
Maradona continued his stellar run in Mexico to single-handedly win the World Cup for Argentina and cement his place as one of the greatest players to ever grace the game.
To read about other FIFA World Cup moments, click here.
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Updated Date: May 18, 2018 20:57:44 IST