Ken Early: Maradona’s wonder goal a monument to lost freedom

We should be grateful that in 1986 there was no video pedant ordering a free kick to England

Maradona  runs past England  defender Terry Butcher  before  dribbling past goalkeeper Peter Shilton  and scoring the  goal of the century, during the World Cup quarterfinal  between Argentina and England on June 22nd, 1986 in Mexico City. Photograph:  Getty Images

Maradona runs past England defender Terry Butcher before dribbling past goalkeeper Peter Shilton and scoring the goal of the century, during the World Cup quarterfinal between Argentina and England on June 22nd, 1986 in Mexico City. Photograph: Getty Images

The news on Wednesday that Diego Maradona had died at the age of 60 prompted an immediate and overwhelming paroxysm of nostalgia. 2020 has already been a year of more retro football than anyone had bargained for, but still it only ever takes a minute or two to fall back under the spell of the young and beautiful Maradona, darting past defenders in the Mexican sunshine or whacking one of those insane parabolic volleys over the head of some stupefied Italian goalkeeper.

I first saw many of these images as a child in the late 1980s and to me they have lost none of their glory and power. Maybe future generations will look at the same pictures and think to themselves the sort of patronising things that people think when they look at old sports. A lot of these guys look a bit too thin – or too fat. Was the game really once played this slowly? Wait a minute – is that guy smoking?

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