55 days to go: Maradona’s moment of magic

The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ is getting closer – 55 days to go!

In less than two months’ time – on 14 June, to be precise – the 21st FIFA World Cup™ kicks off at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, as the hosts take on Saudi Arabia.​

That leaves us plenty of time to enjoy a countdown. Between now and the start of the World Cup, we will take a closer look at a different statistic from the history of the tournament each day.​​

55 the minute in which the most sublime goal in FIFA World Cup™ history was scored, when Diego Maradona slalomed his way past a posse of England players to put Argentina 2-0 up in the quarter-finals at Mexico 1986.

Though the world finals have witnessed many great goals over the years, Maradona’s mesmerising solo effort lives on because of its sheer improbability, the bumpy nature of the pitch, and the importance of the game.

“Cosmic Kite, which planet are you from?” cried tearful Argentinian commentator Victor Hugo Morales, describing a superlative 68-metre run that lasted 11 seconds and in which Maradona touched the ball 11 times.

After the match, the inimitable Maradona explained what was going through his mind, as he weaved his way towards goal.

“When I was one-on-one with [Peter] Shilton, I thought about what my brother had said to me after a friendly against England [in 1980]. I’d had a similar chance and I put it across the keeper. It brushed the post and went out of play. El Turco said to me: ‘You made the wrong choice. You should have gone past the keeper and then knocked it in with the outside of your left foot’. And that’s what I did today.”

Years later, England striker Gary Lineker said: “That was the first time in my career that I almost applauded on the pitch something the opposition had done because it was a really good goal.”

Cracking the same joke today as he did then, Argentina midfielder Hector Enrique said: “With the pass I gave him, he should have been shot, if he hadn’t scored.”

Argentina won the match 2-1 to advance to the semi-finals. A week later, they celebrated their second World Cup triumph, though as far as team-mate Jorge Valdano was concerned, Maradona had already won it against England: “That was the day Maradona went from being a footballer to a national hero.”