Buenos Aires, Argentina | AFP |
Diego Maradona and former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton reignited on Wednesday their long-running feud, on the 30th anniversary of the Argentine’s infamous “Hand of God” World Cup goal.
Maradona, one of the finest footballers to play the game, scored twice in Argentina’s 2-1 victory over England in front of 115,000 fans on June 22, 1986 in Mexico.
The game will be forever remembered for two moments: when Maradona rose above Shilton to punch the ball into the net and then minutes later when he dribbled past half the England team before slotting the ball beyond Shilton.
It may be three decades on, but what particularly irks the goalkeeper even now is how his nemesis “celebrated the first as if it was legitimate”.
“I do not see how I could forgive him,” Shilton, now 66, who was one of the finest goalkeepers in the game at the time, said in a column in the Argentine sports daily Ole.
“He never apologised. He is the best player I went up against, but I would never be a fan of his. I would never shake his hand.”
Shilton added: “Maradona makes me sick.”
And Shilton even hinted at darker forces that saw England go out the tournament at the quarter-finals, while Argentina won it.
“The whole world talks about the ‘Hand of God’… but we had the impression that no matter how well we played, things were arranged in advance,” he said.
He did not elaborate on what he meant.
Maradona, a fiercely proud Argentine whose brilliant career was soiled by off-field indiscretions including run-ins with the law, mocked Shilton in return.
“But who would want to go out with you, Shilton?” he asked in the same publication.
“Would I go out for a drink with a great goalkeeper? No, no.”
Back in 1986, in the post-match press conference, Maradona had teased reporters with his version of what had happened in the first goal, attributing it to “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God”.
Revisiting one of the most controversial incidents in World Cup history, the diminutive Maradona said that it was God who propelled him to the ball with his hand — what he called a “tremendous goal”.
“With my size, I had no chance with my head against Shilton,” he added.