This summer, we’ve taken on the unenviable task of whittling down every great goal ever scored in the history of football to a shortlist of just 20. Yesterday we brought you the Flying Dutchman’s sumptuous Euro ’88 winning volley and today we bring you the greatest goal of all time.
The time has come to nominate the greatest goal ever scored and in truth, there was only ever going to be one winner.
Diego Armando Maradona’s amazing solo goal against England at the 1986 World Cup is about as good as football gets and it will take something very, very, very special if it’s ever going to be topped.
Maradona is arguably the finest footballer who ever lived and in 1986 he was at the peak of his powers. The Argentine legend was playing in Serie A for Napoli at the time of the World Cup in Mexico and his talismanic presence helped La Albiceleste breeze through their group before beating Uruguay in the round of 16.
England were their opponents in the quarter-final and it was a tie with extra added spice due to the fierce rivalry which had developed between the two nations over the bitter Falklands conflict.
The first half under the sweltering heat at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca was an evenly contested affair but five minutes after the interval, Maradona gave Argentina the lead with one of the most controversial goals in the history of the game.
A mishit clearance from England defender Steve Hodge forced an aerial duel between Maradona and goalkeeper Peter Shilton on the edge of the six-yard box. Despite being at a height disadvantage, Dieguito somehow managed to out-jump Shilton to open the scoring.
Of course, replays showed Maradona had in fact used an illegal part of his body to score what infamously became known as the ‘Hand of God’ goal and England fans are, perhaps justifiably, still bitter about it to this day.
Four minutes later, Maradona scored his second goal of the game and this time, there was absolutely nothing controversial about it.
After receiving the ball inside his own half, the Argentine number 10 went on a 60-yard dribble which took him past four England players (Peter Beardsley, Peter Reid, Terry Butcher (twice) and Terry Fenwick) and into the penalty area.
A swivel of the hips put Shilton on his backside and Maradona finished from a tight angle to make it 2-0.
“I made the play to give it to [Jorge] Valdano, but when I got to the area they surrounded me and I had no space,” Maradona recounted in his autobiography years later.
“Therefore, I had to continue the play and finish it myself.”
In 2002, the unforgettable goal was voted FIFA’s Goal of the Century, at which point Maradona admitted he couldn’t have done it without his opponents that day.
“Thanks to England,” he said.
“I scored the best goal of my life, in a World Cup, a dream goal, a beautiful, precious goal.
“I don’t think I could have done it against any other team because they all used to knock you down.
“They are probably the noblest in the world.”
Argentina went on to win the second World Cup in the nation’s history that year, a triumph which immortalised Maradona forever.
Here’s the goal once again, this time featuring BBC Radio commentator Byron Butler’s legendary commentary.
“And that is why Maradona is the greatest player in the world.”