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Zico: Maradona’s first ‘Hand of God’ was in Italy – and it got me suspended for four games!

The Brazil legend says the Argentine got away with a controversial goal at club level before repeating the trick against England on the biggest stage

Zico has claimed that Diego Maradona’s first ‘Hand of God’ was scored in Italy, and that he was suspended for four games for protesting the referee’s decision to give a goal.

Football legends of both the past and present have been paying tribute to Maradona following his passing at the age of 60 last Wednesday.

The former Argentina midfielder, who is widely regarded as the finest player of all time, died at his home in Buenos Aires after suffering a heart attack.

Pele, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and more have paid homage to the World Cup winner, while members of England‘s 1986 squad have relived their famous clash with La Albiceleste at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

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Peter Shilton, Gary Lineker and Glenn Hoddle were among those powerless to stop Maradona inspiring Argentina to a 2-1 quarter-final victory over the Three Lions, but his first effort in the contest was arguably the most controversial goal in football history.

The ex-Napoli and Barcelona superstar got away with punching the ball over Shilton to open the scoring, before showing off the more brilliant side of his game by scoring a superb solo goal after picking the ball up in his own half.

Zico claims Maradona also escaped punishment for handling the ball in the net two years earlier for Napoli against Udinese, and he ended up being shown a red card for sarcastically applauding the referee after the goal was given.

“It was 1984, I had just arrived in Udine. I didn’t play in Naples and he scored a brace,” the Brazil great told Gazzetta Dello Sport. “We were 2-1 up but Diego scored the equaliser. The game was almost finished when they hit the crossbar and Diego anticipated our goalkeeper scoring with his hand.

“The ref and his assistant didn’t notice it. I was furious, I run behind the referee and I told him: ‘Congratulations, continue like this, you are doing well.’ I was sent off and suspended for four games.

“I often joked with him about his goal, I used to tell him: ‘You trained the Hand of God with us.’ He said: ‘You are the good part of football, I am the bad one.’”

Asked where he ranks Maradona in football’s hall of fame, Zico added: “Maradona is among the best five players I’ve ever seen: Garrincha, Pele, Diego, Cruijff and Beckenbauer.” 


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