For England fans, any tribute to Diego Maradona is always going to be bittersweet. His notorious “hand of God” moment against the Three Lions at the 1986 World Cup is still painful to some – just ask Peter Shilton.
Yet minutes later in the same game the Argentine would score again, this time marauding past the defense to score a sublime goal and create one of the great World Cup moments.
Maradona was a genius of football – and an incredible character who deserves respect and yes, adulation. Here’s a few of his most remarkable moments.
Winning the 1986 World Cup with Argentina
Aside from the performance against England which combined the blood-boiling and the bravura alike, Maradona’s World Cup was genuinely god-like. The 5ft 5in player was irrepressible for Argentina, playing every minute of every game, racking up five goals and five assists – one of which was for the winning goal in the final – to power the South American nation to World Cup glory.
Scoring the “goal of the century”
This goal against England at the 1986 World Cup, scored just four minutes after his wrongly allowed handball goal, functioned almost as an apology for his previous misdemeanour. If the first had been a piece of opportunism, here was proof of Maradona’s true brilliance, as he strode unstoppably past five England players to find the net.
Endlessly rhapsodised about in the years since, in 2002 the moment was named “Goal of the Century” by FIFA. The commentary for the goal, by Argentina’s Victor Hugo Morales, is also worth a mention; at one point, Morales asks “Little cosmic kite, which planet did you come from, to leave so many Englishmen behind?” You don’t get that when Glenn Hoddle’s on mic duty.
Inspiring Napoli to win their first ever Serie A Championship
Having left his previous club Barcelona under something of a cloud following his part in a mass brawl during the 1984 Copa del Rey final, Maradona moved to Napoli for a then world record £6.9million.
The Italian club’s history of success had been modest before Maradona joined, the side almost having been relegated from Serie A the previous season; Italian football expert James Horncastle likens the transfer to Lionel Messi moving to West Brom.
Yet Maradona would establish himself as no less than a footballing folk hero at Napoli, quickly going on to earn the captain’s armband. In his first season he scored 14 goals but the club could only finish eighth in the table; yet the following season, the side would push for the title, eventually finishing six points behind Juventus.
And in the 1986-87 season, inspired by their world-beating captain, Napoli would win the domestic double, claiming the Coppa Italia for the third time in their history – and the Serie A championship, something the club had never previously achieved. No wonder that even today, the player is a literal legend to Neapolitans.
Looking for some entertainment? Visit 32Red Casino to check out a wide range of table games and slots!