Writing about Maradona for the Daily Mail a few years back, England’s Gary Lineker had this to say, “He was the only player I’ve ever seen good enough to master a parks pitch."
“When we played Argentina at the 1986 World Cup, nobody else could control the ball because the Azteca Stadium pitch had been re-laid into small chunks and the turf moved under your feet whenever you started running.
“Yet, Maradona was able to dribble from the halfway line and score. Lord knows what he would be capable of today on the modern, bowling, green pitches.”
Lineker should know; he was there watching it as the ‘Hand of God’ played out and then those 10 sublime seconds and nine touches for what many consider to be the best goal scored in World Cup history.
And allowing Maradona to work his magic were battle-hardened players like Oscar Ruggeri and Jorge Valdano. Maradona was at it again against Belgium in the semifinals and was one of the providers when Argentina took on Germany in the final.
Almost three decades later, another magician in Lionel Messi will lead La Albiceleste onto the field, and many will be hoping that he re-creates the magic of 1986.