'You have to say Diego Maradona was magnificent'

Barry Davies commentated on Diego Maradona’s fantastic second goal for Argentina against England at the 1986 World Cup, and was among those paying tribute after the 60-year-old died on Wednesday.

Thursday, 26th November 2020, 10:00 am

Maradona’s death was confirmed by Argentina’s football association.

He had been in hospital in Buenos Aires after surgery to remove a blood clot on the brain earlier this month.

The superstar captained his country to World Cup glory in Mexico in 1986, and later led Napoli to two Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990.

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Maradona scores the second Argentina goal against England in 1986

He also led his country to the final of the 1990 tournament in Italy and managed them in South Africa in 2010.

As the world of sport lined up to pay tribute, it was Davies’ line of “you have to say that was magnificent” after that crucial second goal against England in 1986, which has been replayed around the world over the last 24 hours.

It followed the infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal a few minutes earlier.

Recalling the incident, Davies said: “The comparison, of the two goals, I have always called the Finger of the Devil, rather than the Hand of God, they were four minutes apart.

“What I found to say, compared back to say, ‘That was pure’ because the other one was unquestionably cheating.

“It was extraordinary. When he received the ball he was in his own half of the centre circle, facing his own goal, and turned and went off on a run that cut the England defence to shreds.

“There were attempts to tackle him but somehow he wasn’t there.

“He could have passed the ball but had no intention of doing anything other than scoring. In England he’s remembered for Beauty and the Beast, or it should be Beast and the Beauty, that way around.”

Brazil legend Pele was among the first to pay tribute to his fellow all-time great Maradona after the Argentinian’s death. He said: “One day, I hope we can play football together in the sky.”

The Brazilian three-time World Cup winner was often Maradona’s closest competitor in polls to decide the greatest footballer of all time.

And the 80-year-old issued praise for his fellow South American, writing on his official Twitter account: “What sad news. I lost a great friend and the world lost a legend. There is still much to be said, but for now, may God give strength to family members. One day, I hope we can play football together in the sky.”

Gary Lineker, who was playing for England that day, tweeted: “By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time.

Lionel Messi, the greatest Argentinian of the current generation, wrote on Instagram: “He leaves us but does not leave, because Diego is eternal.”

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