The year 1986 of football will always belong to Diego Maradona.

1986: The year of Diego Maradona

The 1986 World Cup in Mexico should be the one World Cup within the historical past of the match to be gained by a single participant. Not a group – on this recreation that defines teamwork – however one man. The 1986 World Cup begins and ends with Maradona.

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It comes alive with Argentina’s first match, the place the diminutive man feeds all three objectives that his nation scores previous South Korea; for his third help, he bursts into the field and brushes off two defenders – an indication of issues to come back – earlier than squaring the ball throughout the aim. In their second match, he outmuscles his dogged Italian marker and reaches a lobbed move contained in the field and unleashes a strong left footed drive from a troublesome angle. The match is drawn 1-1.

Against Bulgaria, which Argentina win 2-0, he gives the help for the primary aim. He scores each objectives towards Belgium within the semis for a 2-Zero win – the primary, a flick with the surface of the foot whereas two defenders and the goalkeeper clatter into him; the second, a marvel of velocity and management, scything by 4 defenders and twisting right into a shot that flies into the aim at an acute angle whilst he loses stability at that velocity. But wait. By then, that was not magic. It was simply Maradona doing his factor.

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It was simply an unstoppable drive doing the inevitable. The ball will get glued to his left toes. No defender can sustain. He is in all places. A bundle of muscle, a burst of pure power, the Cosmic Kite, the ball goes the place he needs it to go, he dictates matches, he owns the pitch.

It has all already occurred earlier than the hapless Belgians face him – him, not Argentina – within the semis.

It has occurred within the match that can ceaselessly outline Maradona, the 2 sides of the person, the satan and the angel, genius and rogue. It occurs within the quarterfinal towards England, the place, within the house of some minutes, Maradona gives probably the most divine and probably the most divisive recollections of the World Cup. The first is a brazen, reckless, determined transfer, him rising above the towering England goalkeeper Peter Shilton to fulfill a excessive ball along with his fist. The world calls him a cheat; he says it’s the “Hand of God”.

His second merely turns into often known as the “goal of the century” – by no means to be outshone within the collective reminiscence of soccer for its sheer audacity and its unbelievable talent. The visible affect is indelible – Maradona, amassing the ball in his personal half, spinning away from two defenders, and zooming off in a blinding, mazy run, chest out, tongue out, thighs pumping just like the pistons from some steampunk monster engine and one after the other, leaving seven English gamers flailing in his wake.

He had tried it earlier than, six years earlier, on the Wembley – England vs Argentina once more, May 1980 – however that point he had unleashed an angled shot that had whizzed simply vast of the far put up. Somehow, in the midst of this mesmeric run, Maradona remembers that second. This time, he rounds the goalkeeper so nothing is left to probability. He travels 60 yards in 11 otherworldly seconds for that aim.

By the time he sends in a laser-guided by move for Jorge Burruchaga to attain Argentina’s World Cup successful aim within the remaining towards West Germany, there’s a whiff of the upcoming within the air. Of course, the successful aim is about up by him.

There is statistical proof that this was a one-man World Cup, the one one-man World Cup. 71 p.c of Argentina’s objectives have been both scored or assisted by Maradona in Mexico. In comparability, Pele scored or assisted 53 p.c of Brazil’s objectives in 1970.

1986 will at all times be the yr of Maradona.