The death of Diego Armando Maradona, one of the greatest players in the history of football, has touched people from every corner of the globe, but nowhere more so than in Argentina.
The legendary number 10 of the Argentinian national team passed away on Wednesday, aged 60, after suffering a heart attack at his home in Buenos Aires. His coffin is currently lying in state at the Casa Rosada presidential palace. On Thursday afternoon, queues of people waiting to pay their respects stretched for up to three kilometers.
After the news broke of his death, tributes quickly flooded in from around the world, including from his main football rival, Pelé, who declared that he had lost a friend. “I hope we can play soccer together in the sky.”
Maradona played in three World Cups, but it was Mexico 1986 that cemented his place in the world football pantheon. Carrying a talented yet unspectacular Argentina side, Maradona delivered one sublime performance after another, taking his country to the trophy.
In the quarter-final of that tournament, Maradona played his most iconic match in a 2-1 victory over England. In what was the two countries’ first meeting on the football pitch since fighting the Falklands War, Maradona gave a performance that transformed him into a god for all Argentinians, scoring two of the most famous goals ever scored.
For his first, he rose to challenge the ball with England goalkeeper Peter Shilton and, knowing that he was not tall enough to reach it with his head, he sneakily punched the ball over his opponent and into the net. The match referee did not see the illegal handball and the goal stood. Maradona later quipped that the goal was scored by the “hand of God.”
And just minutes later, Maradona scored a second goal of such undisputed individual brilliance, careering past countless England defenders and tucking the ball into the net. Representing the whole of Argentina, Maradona’s message to the English was clear: not only are we craftier than you, we’re better than you too.
And now, Maradona, a devout Catholic, has been reunited with the Hand of God.