Maradona reveals how he robbed England with the 'Hand of God'

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The Independent Football

Speaking on his chat show that is enthralling Argentinian viewers, the former Argentina captain confessed that he did indeed score the first goal of the quarter-final "with my left fist".

He deliberately planned the manoeuvre "from the start", because the English goalkeeper Peter Shilton was so tall, while Maradona was only 5ft 7in. "I knew I'd never get past him with a header," said Maradona.

"I want to tell this to Argentinians, and the world; why not?" he boasted, with no trace of remorse, on his chat show La Noche Del 10 (Tonight with 10), where millions of Argentinians have witnessed the comeback of a man who until recently had been reduced to a barely coherent buffoon by drugs.

Breaking a silence of nearly 20 years, Maradona detailed exactly what happened in one of the most controversial moments in footballing history.

"When I saw the linesman was halfway down the pitch, I called on my team-mates to embrace me and make a big show of acclaiming the goal, to make sure it was confirmed. They were hanging back a bit timidly. They embraced me, but as if to say, 'we're robbing them'. But I told them, 'who robs a robber, is pardoned for a hundred years.'

"We knew that we were facing the English, and they'd done all sorts of things to us," he said, in veiled reference to the Falklands War of 1982.

Maradona also scored a second goal with a brilliant weaving dribble in the 2-1 win in the Azteca Stadium. Gary Lineker headed England's goal.

Maradona, who has hovered on the brink of drug-induced death on various occasions, described how Shilton later reproached him for the invalid goal.

"And I told him, 'yeah well, obviously I'm going to lose sleep over that.' What do I care?" he reflected.

"I never regretted scoring that goal with my hand," he went on, "and what's more, I scored another one like it playing for Napoli against Udinese.

"Zico, who was playing for them, asked me if I didn't feel it was wrong and I said absolutely not.I'd often done it before, when I was starting out."

As if speaking directly to Shilton, he looked into the camera and said: "Peter, you didn't see a thing. It was [Terry] Fenwick who told you that it was handball. He was the one who saw it, because he was behind me and saw everything."