The Hand of God

The Hand of God

'A little with the head of Maradona and a little bit the hand of God', this was one of the most iconic statements in the world of sports.

There are two goals that will always be etched in the memory of anyone who follows Argentinian football — one, 'the hand of God' goal and the other the goal of the century. Both these goals happened in the same quarter-final match against England in the 1986 FIFA World Cup, which Argentina went on to win.

The hand of God refers to a goal scored by Maradona during the match between Argentina and England on June 22, 1986 in Mexico. Diego Maradona had jumped to net the ball but ended up hitting it with his hand, and the ball went past the English goalkeeper to give Argentina a lead of 1-0 during the match. The referees had overseen the handball movement and there was no technology available back then to reverse a decision. In fact, the 1986 World Cup match against England elevated Maradona to the status of a legend.

The game between Argentina and England was held four years after the Falklands war between Argentina and UK and was one reason for an intense rivalry between the two football nations.

Argentina went on to win the match 2-1,with Maradona scoring both the goals.

The first goal ‘hand of god’ happened 51 minutes into the game; his second happened just four minutes after the first, which saw him dribble past five England players and finally the goalkeeper, and scored the goal which came to be known as the goal of the century.

Maradona won the Golden Ball for the player of the tournament and was always called a legend of the game and many a time compared with the great Pele.

Former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton says Diego Maradona tried to disguise the handball that secured the goal which eventually knocked out England from the world cup. He continued by saying, ‘It's happened before and it'll probably happen again, if a striker knows he's not going to get the ball he takes a chance he doesn't lose anything but Maradona was quite clever because he flicked his head at the same time he has a very quick football brain and he knew what he was doing I don't think he expected to get away with it but he did'.

Maradona may have scored the “Goal of the Century” but what actually set the tone for that match had to be the first goal.

Maradona was completely aware of what he was doing but was it right on the part of the legend to score a goal the way he did and set a wrong example for future generations to follow?

Diego Maradona might have scored umpteen number of goals in his illustrious career but one goal that everybody remembers and continues to talk about is the goal that broke the hearts of the English fans.

The real character of a human comes out in the most testing of times and the way he responds, defines him.

Maradona's hand (quite literally) in shaping football history will always be remembered for many generations to come.

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Chinmaya Udghosh