Maradona “vaccinates” England
“You have to say that’s magnificent.” Barry Davies
In the crazy world of Diego Maradona to humiliate an opponent with sheer brilliance shares the same verb of having rough sex with someone. To vaccinate.
And in his auto-biography El Diego, the vaccination of England in the 1986 World Cup is retold in detail in all its frustration and marvel.
England had come off the back of a 3-0 last 16 win against Paraguay, with eventual golden boat winner Gary Lineker lashing in a double and Peter Beardsley picking up the spare.
Meanwhile, Argentina had squeaked past fellow South Americans Uruguay to set up the semi-final clash.
The goals that Maradona bagged in the game at the Azteca are among the most famous in cup history and encapsulate everything about Maradona. On one hand a gifted football God and on the other a fallible mortal who is more than willing to cheat to prosper.
Any football fan of our generation will not have been old enough to have seen the match but would have seen the sunbathed footage under the tones of Barry Davies.
The first ‘strike’, which some still blame on a miscued back pass by Steve Hodge, was punched into the net by Maradona, who somehow managed to outleap Peter Shilton.
However it is the second that is the moment of 1986 – and according to FIFA the century -picking up the ball in his own half Maradona surges past Steve Hodge, Beardsley, Terry Butcher and Terry Fenwick before putting Shilton on his arse and rolling the ball into the empty net.
As Davies begrudging admits in his commentary; “You have to say that’s magnificent.”
While the term genius is thrown about so regularly it is a mantle which is incredibly befitting of a man who the went on to win the 1986 cup almost singlehandedly.
And all this was all before a cocaine-fuelled Maradona led an unfashionable but attractive Napoli side to back to back Serie A titles.
Incredibly, the feat was almost repeated four years later with a more agressive Argentina falling to the Germans at the final hurdle.