0541 GMT March 17, 2018
One thing is for sure whenever Diego Maradona holds court: there are bound to be fascinating anecdotes and insights aplenty, not least when the topic of conversation is the ins and outs of the game itself.
On his 57th birthday, the Argentine legend spoke of his five most memorable FIFA World Cup moments in exclusive interview with fifa.com.
June 18, 1982
Argentina 4-1 Hungary: His first World Cup goal
“I just wanted the ball to go in, nothing else. We’d lost our first match against Belgium and we were up against it. I’d scored goals at the U-20 World Cup but you can’t compare that to the feeling you get when you score at the World Cup proper. It’s like your mum coming and giving you breakfast in bed. It’s pure happiness, like when I used to give my mum a kiss on the lips. There are so many things that go through your head.”
July 2, 1982
Argentina 1-3 Brazil: A red card for kicking Batista
“I spoke about it years later with Batista and I’ve said it to Falcao too. At 3-1 they started to make fun of us and I don’t like losing one little bit. He said to me: ‘No, Diego. That’s just the football we feel inside us’. But you know what? If I was three goals up and started singing ‘Ole! Ole! Ole!’ as we stroked the ball around, then you’d get pretty mad too. If you’ve got a bit of blood in your veins, you’re going to get fired up. But yes; I kicked the wrong player. Unbelievable!”
June 22, 1986
Argentina 2-1 England: The Goal of the Century
“I never scored another goal like it. I’ve scored a few that were very difficult to put away, but this was in a World Cup. It was every kid’s dream. We all dreamed of dribbling past the lot of them, including (Peter) Shilton. I still don’t understand what he did. I don’t know if ghosts or a UFO came down and took him away. He just left the goal wide open for me. I just went past him and that was it!
“‘I never tire of watching it,’ as my mum used to say to me whenever I caught her watching the goals on TV. ‘Come on, Mum! Watching the goals again!’ And she’d say to me that watching her son score that goal made her feel totally relaxed. ‘You go if you want. I’m going to carry on watching your goals’.”
June 24, 1990
Argentina 1-0 Brazil: magical assist for Caniggia
“The Brazilians blamed Alemao for that goal, but I got past him pretty quickly. The one I really shrugged off and used my elbow on to stop him getting at me was Dunga. So, it’s not Alemao’s fault but Dunga’s. He let me get past him.
“When Cani (Claudio Caniggia) scored, I thanked God, my mum and all the saints in the world. He barely celebrated. He just raised his fist. Pow! As if it were nothing. When I saw him afterwards, I said to him: ‘Listen, right here in the cold light of day: did you see what you did today?’ He said: ‘Yes, I scored a goal’. ‘No, you didn’t! You reduced a whole stadium to silence!’
“Out of respect for the Brazilians, I put the Brazil shirt on when I went back to the dressing room. It was Careca’s. He’s my friend. But I felt as if… not as if we’d robbed Brazil but that they deserved to go through instead of Argentina. They pinned us back the whole game but we won. That’s why football is the most beautiful sport in the world.”
July 3, 1990
Italy 1-1 Argentina (Argentina win 4-3 on pens): Beating Zenga from the spot
“It was pretty strange because when we went to penalties, the Italians were telling me on the pitch that they should have won the game. (Luigi) De Agostini and (Walter) Zenga told me a draw wasn’t a fair result. But in a match like that it’s not a question of deserving things, is it? They had their views and I had mine!
“I’d just missed [a penalty] against Yugoslavia. So, when I walked from the center circle to take my kick I said to myself: ‘If you miss this, you’re an idiot. If you miss, you’re a wimp, you’re the worst. You can’t betray all the people that love you – Mum, Dad, my brothers, the people of Argentina, everyone!’ But then I got the better of Zenga and on we went. It was me who knocked the Italians out.”