Diego Maradona: 'Hand of God' referee explains goal decision ahead of million-pound auction

Split image. Left image: Maradona Hand of God ball. Right image: Maradona Hand of God still.
Diego Maradona scored his infamous 'Hand of God' goal during the 1986 World Cup quarter-final between Argentina and England. Credit: A/AP

Diego Maradona's 'Hand of God' is a sporting moment that has been frozen in time - the mere mention of it can conjure strong emotions among those who remember it.

Punching the ball past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, Diego Maradona secured his place in footballing folklore.

And it was his second goal, which saw him weave his way through the heart of England's defence, that was voted the Goal of the Century.

It is little wonder then that the ball that, in both instances, ended up in the back of the net is now expected to go under the hammer for around £3 million.

The ball pictured in front of an image of Maradona and Peter Shilton shaking hands, with Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser in the background Credit: PA Images

Ali Bill Nasser, who refereed the 1986 World Cup game between Argentina and England, currently has the ball.

The 78-year-old former referee plans to give some of the proceeds from the sale to charity, while the rest will be dedicated to raising his quality of life.

When asked about the infamous goal, Nasser was keen to explain his decision making.

FIFA's instructions for the tournament, he told CNN, were to rely on other match officials if they had a better view of an incident.

Unable to see the aerial battle between Maradona and Shilton, he turned to his linesman, who had "arrived at the centre line, which means the goal is 100% valid”.

The linesman, Bogdan Dochev, who passed away five years ago, said he thought there was "something irregular" about the goal. However, he added, FIFA protocols didn't allow assistants to discuss their thoughts with the referee.

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Fallout from the incident forever tarnished his career as a referee.

Before his death, he told Bulgarian media outlets "Diego Maradona ruined my life," and that "he is a brilliant footballer but a small man. He is low in height and as a person too." The infamous ball we be sold by Graham Budd Auctions on Wednesday.

Maradona’s shirt worn during the quarter-final, which belonged to ex-England international Steve Hodge, sold in May for £7.14m - a new world record for any piece of sporting memorabilia.

Hodge had swapped shirts with Maradona at the time.

Bin Nasser’s shirt from the England vs Argentina match, in addition to a signed shirt he later received from Maradona, will also be available at next month’s auction.