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Sunday, March 3, 2024

World Cup’s 101 Most Memorable Moments: Maradona’s ‘Goal of the Century’


Editor’s note: Each day between now and the kickoff of the first match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Nov. 20, we’ll unveil a different memory from World Cup history. The countdown from 101 continues with Maradona’s other goal vs. England in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals.

“Goal of the Century” doesn’t even do it justice. Two decades into the next century Diego Maradona’s solo slalom through a sea of would-be English defenders in the quarterfinals of the 1986 World Cup stands as the greatest World Cup goal of all time. 

The context is important here. Just four minutes earlier, Maradona had scored probably the second most famous World Cup goal of all time — albeit one that shouldn’t have counted at all: the infamous Hand of God goal that the cunning Argentine had slyly punched into the net without any of the officials noticing.

Many in the 100,000-plus crowd in Mexico City that day had seen it, of course. So had millions of television viewers, at least on replay, watching around the World Cup. A number of Three Lions players immediately and vehemently protested the non-call, to no avail. They were understandably furious with Maradona. Several surely wanted to snap his leg in two and, in an era where violent tackles were the norm, they’d surely try if given the opportunity.

Maradona gave them one, all right. With the English players still fuming, the Albiceleste captain collected the ball inside his own half. Boxed in by two opponents, he danced on the ball and then exploded into the space between them, taking off on a beeline toward Peter Shilton’s net.

He’d accelerated past left four foes (including Terry Butcher twice) before reaching center back Terry Fenwick, who he made look like a traffic cone with a dip of the shoulder. With only Shilton left to beat, he faked a shot that put the keeper on his rear end, then rounded him to slot the ball home. 

All these years later, it’s no less impressive. This was the only divine goal scored that day at Estadio Azteca. While Maradona’s breathtaking, otherworldly run and finish took just 10 seconds to complete, it will live in the annals of the sport forever.  

Goal of the Century

Maradona was unstoppable vs. England.

Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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