BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – It was 35 years ago today that Diego Maradona taught England to play, and the date did not go unnoticed in Argentina, where his compatriots remembered his “goal of the century” with a nationwide celebration of cheers and applause.
Maradona scored twice against England in a 2-1 win in the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup, the second of which was a solo goal often classed as the greatest goal ever scored.
To remember the feat, Argentines took to their windows, balconies, and gardens to shout “Gooooooooool!” at precisely 16:09, the exact moment the ball hit the net at the Aztec Stadium on June 22, 1986.
“The goal was so incredible that it sent the whole country into a delirium,” recalled Leonardo Oliver, a Buenos Aires muralist.
When Maradona died last year the country went into mourning with displays of grief that illustrated just how much he meant to a nation that has not won the World Cup since he took them to the title in Mexico in 1986.
The Argentine Football Association encouraged people to remember the former Napoli and Boca Juniors player by rewatching or relistening to the commentary of the goal “at top volume.”
“When the ball goes in again, let’s shout so they hear it in heaven,” it said in a social media post.
Across the country, thousands of people downloaded the video and obliged.
There was, however, no celebration of Maradona’s first goal in the game, which he scored four minutes earlier at 16:05. Maradona put Argentina 1-0 up by punching the ball past England keeper Peter Shilton.
The goal, he said, was scored by “the hand of God.”
(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Stephen Coates)