Diego Maradona: How the ‘world’s most well-known soccer’ turned a ‘reward from God’ for former referee Ali Bin Nasser


The 2 targets are maybe as well-known as one another – the primary fabled for its audacity and guile, the second for its sensible, breathtaking talent.

Simply 4 minutes separate Diego Maradona’s two memorable contributions at Mexico Metropolis’s Estadio Azteca 36 years in the past, and collectively they typify Argentina’s flawed genius and beloved footballing icon.

“The Hand of God” – when Maradona rose above England goalkeeper Peter Shilton and punched the ball into the web – wants little introduction to soccer followers of any period, whereas his slaloming run by way of the guts of England’s protection moments later was voted the Aim of the Century.

It comes as little shock, then, that the match ball from that day in Mexico Metropolis – now deflated and pale in locations – is predicted to fetch as much as $3.3 million at public sale on Wednesday.

“Without a doubt, it’s the world’s most famous football,” Terry Butcher, who captained England throughout the 2-1 defeat towards Argentina on the 1986 World Cup, tells CNN Sport.

Even being within the presence of the ball, as he was at Wembley Stadium in London forward of this week’s public sale, brings again uneasy reminiscences for Butcher.

It’s a reminder of how he remonstrated with Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser after Maradona’s first objective, and of how he tried in useless to cease the second with an outstretched leg.

“It’s really weird to be in the same room as the ball, it’s difficult to explain,” Butcher provides. “It’s quite surreal in many respects … That ball – it’s the biggest injustice the world’s ever seen when it comes to football matches.”

Within the aftermath of his demise two years in the past, memorabilia from Maradona’s life and profession have fetched large sums at public sale.

In Might, the jersey he wore towards England bought for $9.3 million, on the time making it the costliest piece of sports activities memorabilia in historical past.

As for the match ball, it’s at the moment owned by Nasser after FIFA, soccer’s international governing physique, declared that referees would get to maintain the ball after every recreation they officiated on the 1986 World Cup.

The match ball from the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal is expected to sell for up to $3.3 million.

Nasser is 78 now and his refereeing days are lengthy behind him. With the proceeds from the sale, which is being overseen by Graham Budd Auctions within the UK, he’ll donate a number of the cash to charity and says the rest will “raise my standard of life a little.”

“It is a gift from God,” Nasser tells CNN Sport, “because I had a career of 25 years … and I made all the decisions that needed to be made.”

Requested about Maradona’s first objective and Nasser is keen to defend his causes for letting it stand.

FIFA’s directions for the event, he says, had been to depend on different match officers if that they had a greater view of an incident. Unable to see what had occurred within the aerial contest between Maradona and Shilton, Nasser as an alternative turned to his linesman, Bulgarian Bogdan Dochev.

“[Dochev] arrived at the center line, which means the goal is 100% valid,” says Nasser, including that he “applied the FIFA guidelines regarding the first goal.”

Maradona's controversial hand ball gave Argentina a 1-0 lead against England at the 1986 World Cup.

For his half, Dochev, who handed away 5 years in the past, mentioned he thought he noticed “something irregular” concerning the objective, however claimed FIFA protocols didn’t permit assistants to debate choices with the referee. The fallout from the incident would tarnish his refereeing profession.

“Diego Maradona ruined my life,” Dochev later instructed Bulgarian media within the years earlier than his demise. “He is a brilliant footballer but a small man. He is low in height and as a person too.”

Whereas a number of balls could be used over the course of a match in at this time’s recreation, again then just one was used for the complete 90 minutes.

In line with Graham Budd, the public sale home chairman at Graham Budd Auctions, Nasser’s ball has been cross-checked towards match footage and high-res pictures, whereas an unbiased physique has additionally verified it as the unique.

With the World Cup starting in Qatar on Sunday, this week is an optimum time for the ball to go up for public sale; it might additionally develop into the costliest sports activities ball ever bought at public sale if it eclipses the $3 million paid for Mark McGwire’s seventieth residence run baseball in 1999.

Ali Bin Nasser speaks to the media following Maradona's death two years ago.

The ball’s sizable price ticket shouldn’t be solely derived from the character of Maradona’s two interventions.

The match was the primary time England and Argentina had met on a sporting enviornment for the reason that Falklands or Malvinas Warfare 4 years earlier, and most of the gamers had – at the very least on Argentina’s aspect – buddies or kin who had been conscripted to combat within the struggle.

That backdrop created a way of drama properly earlier than the “Hand of God” took heart stage.

“We had an energy, a great desire to win, not just because it was England, but also so that our country could in one way be happy,” Jorge Luis Burruchaga, who would go on to attain the successful objective within the ultimate for Argentina towards West Germany, instructed CNN Sport 4 years in the past.

“We were aware that we wouldn’t bring back the dead of the Falklands War, but we were aware that we would bring some happiness.”

Former England worldwide Peter Reid additionally acknowledges the political context of the sport, which he says contributes to the “unique” standing of the match ball.

“There’s a lot of Argentinians there, there was a lot of pressure on both sets of players, and that’s when he [Maradona] handled the pressure really well,” says Reid. “Whatever you say, he was a genius footballer.”

And as for the primary objective? “Listen, he’s cheated,” provides Reid, “but he’s been very clever as well.”

Regardless of his decades-long profession in soccer as a participant and supervisor, Reid says he nonetheless will get mocked for being outpaced by Maradona for the second objective – even by the person himself when the pair met in Jordan a few years later.

And whereas it was Nasser who saved the “Hand of God” match ball from that recreation and his outdated teammate Steve Hodge who saved Maradona’s shirt, Reid did find yourself with a present from his wily opponent – albeit a long time after that they had confronted one another in Mexico Metropolis.

“He came with a signed shirt for me: ‘To my friend. Lots of love, Diego Maradona,’” says Reid. “I’ve got that on my wall, so that’s not a bad one. I’ll hold onto it.”