In Mexico in 1986, Maradona hit the point of greatness only really touched by Pele as he inspired an average Argentine side to their second World title in just 8 years. His most famous match saw him line up against bitter rivals England where he scored both of Argentina’s goals, goals remembered for different reasons. The first was a piece of blatant cheating as he handled the ball past a slow reacting Peter Shilton, which he claimed was the “Hand of God.” The second will forever be remember as the greatest goal in World Cup history. Picking the ball up in his own half, he turned away from two England players, went on a slalom run through the England defence leaving players in his wake before rounding the keeper and slotting the ball home. An almost carbon copy saw Maradona repeat the trick in the semi final against Belgium where he again scored twice and despite extremely tight marking by West Germany, he laid on the winning pass for Burruchaga to seal the victory in the final.
An ankle injury prior to the finals deprived the world of seeing Maradona at his best once again and as a result, Argentina struggled. They were beaten in the opening match by underdogs Cameroon and scraped through to the round of 16. The subsequent match saw Maradona turn provider once more as he set up Claudio Caniggia to score the only goal against rivals, Brazil. Despite missing a penalty in the shoot out with Yugoslavia, Argentina progressed and after a one all draw with host nation Italy, another shoot out required. In an act of bravado, the Argentine placed the penalty in the exact same position of the goal as the penalty he’d missed the previous game. In facing their old opponents from four years before, Maradona was unable to inspire his side and the game was settled by a debateable penalty scored by Andy Brehme.
USA ’94 would be Maradona’s final World Cup. After scoring in Argentina’s 1st match against Greece, he ran wild eyed to the camera, screaming as in a drug fuelled craze. It came as little surprise that after his second game he was found guilty of taking a banned substance and expelled from the finals. It was a sad, if not unexpected end for the Argentine maestro.
Argentina Caps: 91
Argentina Goals: 34
World Cups: 1982, 1986, 1990 & 1994
World Cup wins: 1
World Cup Appearances: 21
World Cup Goals: 8