Maradona's Hand of God Goal, What Really Happened?

1 year ago

Until now, after Diego Maradona has passed away, his "Hand of God" goal 37 years ago is still the most controversial in world football history - taking place in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals at Estadio Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. On June 22, the sun reached its zenith at midday, forming a dark patch on the side of Argentina's court to the right of the service point. 

Time froze when the referee Ali Bin Nasser and the lineman Bogdan Dochev stared at each other. It's like trying to understand what happened when Diego Maradona put the ball into England's net in the 1986 World Cup. Let's look back at the "Hand of God" in this article!

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The Relationship Between England And Argentina In 1986 

"Whoever steals from a thief will be forgiven for 100 years" - the slogan of thousands of people in Buenos Aires - sounded after the final whistle. Relations between the United Kingdom and Argentina were strained following the super-fast war to capture the Falkland/Malvinas Islands. The people of Argentina oppose "Iron Lady" Margaret Thatcher, and so do many voters in the UK.

The shooting between the British and Argentine navies was four years before this classic match. The media of both countries were feverish, drawing up the craziest and worst scenarios before the football match. But what happened on the Azteca field was not hot at all.

Before the ball rolled, the Argentine players gave each opponent a picture. It was a gesture of friendship or to calm the hotheads in the stands. The "bomb" was defused so gently.

The "Hand of God" Incident of Maradona



Many pictures were taken of when Maradona raised his hand like a ball. But none of the shots captured the exact moment his finger touched, either a split second earlier or a split second later. And pictures can tell the incomplete truth.

Many people are sure that Maradona used his hand to open the score in the 51st minute without watching the videotape. But BBC commentator Barry Davies and most of the audience at that time only thought of an offside situation. It took them 30 seconds to hear about the so-called "The Hand of God," and until now, no one is sure.

On the pitch, only Maradona, the defender Terry Fenwick and the goalkeeper Peter Shilton knew what happened. Glenn Hoddle and Fenwick chase referee Bin Nasser to the center of the pitch to join the protest. But Bin Nasser couldn't trust 100% of what he didn't see.
Maradona's goals in this match are like two sides of the same coin. The second goal is gorgeous, but what is "Hand of God"? A monster? However, for the people of Argentina, Maradona's ambiguous goal is a masterpiece in the sense of "regaining justice."

The Truth Behind "The Hand Of God"



While the incident has been the subject of much analysis and discussion over the years, the truth behind "Hand of God" remains a mystery to many. So what happened then?

Match Progress

On the field, the Argentine players leisurely passed the ball. He was looking for space, and England was like a "lame cat afraid of water," timid and cynical in front of the second-strongest opponent in the world at that time. They were no longer the proud "British Lions" of 20 years ago.

Ninety seconds before the opening goal, goalkeeper Shilton had just shown his talent after a dangerous situation. It was like a wake-up call to the English defense. He felt something was coming because the Blue - White shirt color appeared more and more on the England side of the field. It opened the way to the goal he held.

A broken shot from Terry Butcher created a chance for Argentina to get on the ball. They immediately flooded the other half of the field. The ball passed Sergio Batista and Hector Enrique before Julio Olarticoechea took control. Maradona was the next to have the ball, and then 10 seconds later, England's net vibrated.

Peter Shilton immediately pointed to the hand and "denounced" Maradona. Terry Fenwick and Glenn Hoddle chase the referee to claim. But the other England players were very indifferent. Some did not understand what happened, and others returned to the center spot. Meanwhile, some people walked in the flow of people.

For the next four seconds, Maradona glanced briefly at the referee and realized that there was no sign of doubt from the referee. He waved to his teammates to celebrate, in the excitement of scoring a goal of a lifetime, and 1-0 for Albiceleste.

What Happened?

Going back in time 10 seconds before the goal, Maradona took the ball from the left and ran straight into the middle. Then he accelerated and eliminated Hoddle, Peter Reid, Trevor Steven, and Fenwicck in turn. Butcher was close, but Maradona was able to flick the ball to the right for Jorge Valdano. Valdano was a little startled and couldn't control the ball. But at this moment Hodge appeared and carelessly cleared the ball, causing the ball to bounce back toward the home team's goal.

The ball hung overhead and only Maradona jumped up to challenge goalkeeper Shilton - who both had the advantage of height and could maximize his arm span. But Shilton missed and Maradona "somehow" made contact causing the ball to fall into the net.

Even before the ball rolled over the line, both Shilton and Fenwick raised their hands to protest the goal. 

The Controversy Behind This Goal

That goal ended the game very early, but it has had consequences for the past 37 years, and will certainly last for a century. People still argue when classifying it as the goal of an angel, a genius, a ruffian, a demon, and a thief ever since.

Even on Maradona's last day, former goalkeeper Peter Shilton still did not have any good words, except for the anger about "Hand of God." He, like Sir Bobby Robson, Tery Butcher, and Chris Waddle, still complains about justice for England to this day.

Shilton asked Maradona for an official apology, but how could the Golden Boy say that while he did not feel remorse? And no one is sure if Maradona's handshake took place. From Maradona's point of view, he wisely defeated a muscular opponent with his intellect, that's fair! Because even the word "fair" is not an absolute concept.

In 2015, Maradona had the opportunity to meet referee Ali Bin Nasser again. He gave the former referee a shirt with the message "For a friend forever". Bin Nasser gave back a photo of the center circle of the Azteca before the ball kicked off 30 years ago. Maradona and Shilton also shook hands in the presence of Bin Nasser.

But line referee Dochev suffered a different fate. Until he died in 2017, he was still ostracized by the Bulgarian people for his involvement in "Hand of God."

However, the goal also cemented Maradona's reputation as a master of the game, showcasing his skill, speed, and cunning on the field. In the years since the incident, the "Hand of God" goal has become a cultural touchstone, referenced in films, music, and popular culture. More importantly, the goal remains a crucial moment in Maradona's legacy, underscoring his status as one of the greatest football players of all time. 

What Did The Mainstream Newspapers Say?

Even in England, the mainstream newspapers are soberer than insiders. They pointed out the weak points against the opponent, that the British even lost before the ball rolls because they chose to play negative football. The Times also compared the English players to empty-handed farmers surrounding a cow with a broken chain (Maradona).

The Daily Mail said that Maradona's goal was a coincidence. Indeed, he could not have foreseen that he would punch the ball into England's net in the 51st minute. But it does not mean that in his instincts this thought did not appear: Maradona is a man who wants to win at all costs like many sports stars of England.


"Hand of God" goal of Maradona is one of the most controversial and iconic moments in the history of football. Also, it remains a defining moment in the career of Diego Maradona. While the goal itself was controversial, Maradona's incredible talent and impact on the sport cannot be denied. Despite his flaws and personal struggles, Maradona's legacy lives on as one of the greatest players to have ever graced the football field. Join Anzfootball to read more posts about football history and legends.