Diego Maradona:The Hand of God

Anyone been around in 1986 should remember the famous phrase “Hand of God”, by Maradona. It has been touted as one of the most well-known sporting quotes ever. On 22nd June, 1986 during the FIFA World Cup two archrivals, England and Argentina were battling for the Semi-Finals. The recent battle for the Falkland Islands and the controversial match between the soccer giants during the World Cup 20 years ago had added to the palpable tension on that day. Both sides were giving it their all, each looking to trounce the other and claim triumph. In the 51st minute, Maradona charged ahead with the ball looking to score the first goal of the match against the English. He attacked from the right wing, along with teammate Jorge Valdano. He passed the ball to his teammate, hoping for a one-two combination. But his pass was a bit wayward and the ball went to the English defender, Steve Hodge, who miscued the ball and it flew back towards the Argentinean who rushed to head the airball into the net. English goalkeeper Peter Shilton rightly charged out to punch the ball away. He dove with his hands outstretched and Maradona leapt into the air. Then there it was, the most famous and controversial goal in soccer history. Photographs and videos later showed that the referee, Ali Bin Nasser of Tunisia had got it all wrong. The ball had hit Maradona’s hand instead of his head and thus, Maradona coined the quote, “(The goal was scored) a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God”. Later during the match, Maradona scored an amazing goal that was later voted as the “FIFA Goal of the Century” to take Argentina to the Semi-Finals en route to their 1986 World Cup win.

One of the greatest footballers the world has ever seen, Diego Armando Maradona, was born on October 30 1960 in the city of Lanus. He was raised in Villa Fiorito near Buenos Aires and had five siblings. He started playing soccer when he was 11, playing for local junior division clubs in Buenos Aires. Maradona made his professional debut playing for the Argentinos Juniors in 1976. At the age of merely 16, Maradona first represented his nation in a friendly against Hungary. By 1982, he played his first FIFA World Cup. After that, he was transferred to FC Barcelona for a record-shattering fee of 5 million pounds. Owing to some disputes with the management, Maradona later shifted to SSC Napoli in the Italian Serie A. This was where he reached his true potential leading the team to glorious wins. In 1986, Maradona captained the Argentina team and brought the World Cup home. He again led his national side in 1990. However, around the beginning of the nineties, he started to be plagued by controversies. Having left Napoli in 1992, after having failed a drug test for cocaine, things became worse when Maradona again failed a drug test for ephedrine during the 1994 World Cup and was sent back home.

Despite his dark hours, Maradona was a star among soccer fans. In a poll conducted by FIFA in 2000 for the “Player of the Century”, he was voted by 53.6% of fans. He later shared the award with Pele, whom FIFA decided to honour as well. He rose to prominence once more when in 2002; his second goal in the well-known match against England in the 1986 World Cup was voted “Goal of the Century”. Surely a legend, Maradona is still loved by soccer fans. His former teammate, Jorge Valdano, said about the Argentinean soccer legend, “He is someone many people want to emulate, a controversial figure, loved, hated, who stirs great upheaval, especially in Argentina”. Certainly Maradona has encountered stormy seas in his life, but he has bounced back well. Today, he is the coach of the Argentinean soccer team. Though his soccer career is long over, he still holds a special place in every soccer fan’s heart. He and his amazing soccer talents along with the “Hand of God” goal have been etched in history as legends.

Sainyam Gautam

[Image source:http://diego-maradona.net/gallery/photos/Diego-Maradona-Photos-003.jpg]