Talking the Beautiful Game

Diego Maradona – Moments of artistry

Our new “The Artists” collection will be launched on 15th February celebrating the exceptional skill and contribution of some of the greatest exponents of the beautiful game. There are 10 players honoured in this initial range and over the next few days our blogs will share some magical moments of artistry from each one of them. 

Today we feature Maradona

1 – v England, World Cup quarter finals, 22 June 1986

‘You have to say that’s magnificent!’ Barry Davies.

It had to be included. Just days before his heroics against Belgium, Diego Maradona knocked England out of the World Cup with a combination of marvel and mischief.

Having scored the opener with his hand, it was his second goal that most closely resembles a work of art. Maradona picks the ball up around ten yards inside his own half (goodness knows what he’s doing there) and immediately has to turn away from one England player and drag the ball away from another before setting off down the right wing.

His next job is to dart inside an oncoming defender, moving centrally before shimmying back outside another England player to make his way into the box. One of the remarkable facets of this goal is that Maradona never seemed to slow down for anybody. He just kept on going.

Faced with Peter Shilton, Maradona goes to finish low into the opposite corner, but decides against it, instead dragging it past the falling Shilton and smashing the ball into the empty net. The goal doubled Argentina’s lead, and was voted FIFA World Cup Goal of the Century.

Relive It: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pnSvfHiUqk

2 – v England, World Cup quarter finals, 22 June 1986

Sometimes art is ugly. Sometimes it makes you consider more than just the beauty of the brush.

Maradona’s opener against England, the ‘Hand of God’ goal, is impossible to ignore. It combines a mixture of fate and misfortune, impossibility and opportunism, to make one of the most memorable pieces of football history of all time.

It’s like Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’: Horrifically enthralling.

Maradona makes a lovely run to start the move, something which is obviously, more often than not, forgotten. He plays an attempted one-two with a team mate, running on in anticipation of a return pass. However, the ball is mis-controlled only for England’s Hodge, attempting a clearance, to hook the ball in the direction of Peter Shilton. Maradona has gambled and leaps high, beating Shilton, whose jump gains only distance, and the ball bobbles awkwardly into the net. 

Maradona’s celebration tells you all you need to know, resembling a bowler’s LBW appeal more than a footballer’s celebration. England protested, but to no avail.

Relive It: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ccNkksrfls

3 – v Belgium, World Cup semi finals, 25 June 1986

You might remember Diego Maradona’s 1986 world cup for his performance against England, but his semi final outing against Belgium was equally impressive. With the weight of the captaincy on his shoulders along with the hopes of a nation, Maradona delivered.

After a goalless first half, the deadlock was broken. Maradona’s excellent run into the box was matched only by the superb ball into the box from his teammate. As Diego arrived to meet the pass, so did two Belgian defenders and the goalkeeper, Jean-Marie Pjaff. 

Diego took them all out of the equation with a flick of his boot, sending the ball into the opposite corner. 12 minutes later he would one-up himself, receiving the ball 35 yards from goal, breezing inside one defender and going round the outside of another before caressing the ball across Pjaff once more. Argentina went on the beat West Germany 3-2 in the final.

Relive It: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0E9qCaoEgl8

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