Press Centre

The Hand Of God: 30 Years On

  • Episode: 

    1 of 1

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Wed 22 Jun 2016
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    10.15pm - 11.15pm
  • Week: 

    Week 25 2016 : Sat 18 Jun - Fri 24 Jun
  • Channel: 

  • Status: 

The information contained herein is embargoed from press use, commercial and non-commercial reproduction and sharing into the public domain until Tuesday 14 June 2016.
The Hand Of God: 30 Years On
“I certainly saw it, and I knew [Maradona had handled it]. And I just turned away as if, ‘Well, we’re going to get a free kick here.’ And then I realised that the referee and then the linesman started to run towards the halfway line and I knew then in my stomach that he’d given the goal. My stomach’s churning at that time, knowing that he’s not going to change his mind now.” - Glenn Hoddle
This new documentary for ITV4 marks the 30th anniversary of Diego Maradona’s notorious ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final.
Featuring contributions from England players who played in the match including Gary Lineker, Glenn Hoddle, Kenny Sansom, Terry Butcher, Steve Hodge and Peter Shilton, past whom Maradona punched the ball into the net, the programme reflects on the match itself in front of 114,000 fans in the Azteca Stadium, England’s performance at the tournament, and the game’s political dimension, four years after the Falklands War.
Produced by Goalhanger Films, who also made Being Kevin Pietersen for ITV4, the programme melds those new insights from veteran players with archive material and music from the time to provide a close insight into the reactions of the players at the time, and their views now on one of the most famous moments in Three Lions history.
It also features their views on the duality of Maradona - and the fact that just four minutes after cheating to score, he embarked on a driving run to score one of the great goals in World Cup history before inspiring his team to glory in the final.
Going into the World Cup, English football was in the doldrums, with clubs banned from Europe after Heysel and the game tainted by hooliganism. But with players like Bryan Robson, Gary Lineker, John Barnes and Glenn Hoddle in the squad, the England camp felt positive, says Terry Butcher: “It was a bloody good squad, some good players, so the mood was very good and very confident.”
But losing to Portugal and drawing with Morocco in Monterey drained fans’ confidence going into a tricky final group game with Poland, which England had to win. Gary Lineker promptly scored a hat-trick as England ran rampant. Lineker says: “It changed my life, to be perfectly honest. I had got myself into the England side but I had also gone five or six games without a goal. Bobby… brought in [Peter] Beardsley, all of a sudden I had gone from no goals to three goals in half an hour.”
Lineker then scored a double in their game against Paraguay in the round of 16, ramping up the team’s confidence as they won 3-0. The sudden turnaround in form led some to believe England could win the World Cup for the first time in 20 years. Glenn Hoddle, however, says he had his doubts: “I still felt that there was stuff missing. I still felt we needed either a Chris Waddle or a John Barnes [starting]. We were tight but I felt we would never win the World Cup with the team we had.”
Next up in the quarter-final lay Argentina, and their captain Diego Maradona, on June 22. The background of the Falklands War four years earlier added an extra dimension to the game, says Terry Butcher: “The Falklands didn’t overshadow it but it was very much part of the background, very much at the front of our thoughts.”
The key issue, he admits, was stopping Maradona. He says: “I think the consensus was that the only way we were going to stop him was to try and kick him, but that’s easier said than done. I never knew what Maradona looked like in those games for years afterwards because all I saw was the back of his head.”
Before the game, manager Bobby Robson gave an inspirational team-talk, says Kenny Sansom: “He spoke for 20 minutes, calming us down, relaxing us. And then he said, ‘Whatever you do, lads, don’t worry about the 60 million people back home watching you.’ So I just sort of went, ‘Cheers, boss, thanks very much…’”
After a dire first half for both teams, the key moment came in the 51st minute, as the ball fell to Steve Hodge, who hooked it over his shoulder for Peter Shilton to catch, not realising Maradona was lurking. Hodge says: “I had a good left foot, it came at a nice height, and I flicked it back, and I caught the contact spot on. I had no hesitation in my brain in saying, ‘That could be a problem.”
Shilton says: “I didn’t realise that he actually said he tried to back-pass to me. Instinct told me I could just get there before [Maradona].”
But he couldn’t, as Maradona pushed the ball over his head, scoring a goal. As the ball looped into the empty net, the England players looked to the referee to give a free kick for the handball. Instead, he and the linesman ran away, giving the goal. Shilton says: “Suddenly, we got the feeling, ‘My God, they are going to give it.’ We knew we had been cheated against and it was an incredible bit of refereeing.”
Watching the goal again, Glenn Hoddle says: “If you watch that from behind the goal, he has done that before. Don’t watch his arm, watch his head. As he does it, he flicks his head. He has done that before.”
Then in the 55th minute, Maradona jinked through the England team to score a famous goal. Gary Lineker says: “That was some goal, I felt like I should applaud after that.”
The introduction of John Barnes meant England rallied and scored in the 81st minute. Then Gary Lineker appeared to miss an open goal with a flashing header, though an Argentinean defender managed to put his head between the ball, Lineker and the net. But then it was over - and England were out. Kenny Sansom explains the mood in the dressing room: “The anger was absolutely amazing. I think their kitman brought in some Argentinean shirts to swap. Ray Wilkins, I had never heard Ray swear before, but he went potty.”
Meanwhile Terry Butcher lined up against Maradona in a post-match drugs test. He says: “I just went ‘head’ or ‘hand’ [gestures]. He went ‘hand’. It’s probably the best thing he ever did, because I would have killed him if he hadn’t.”
Argentina marched on to the final, beating West Germany 3-2. A gutted Terry Butcher couldn’t face watching it, saying: “I mean, you’ve got a choice in the final, who do you want to win, or who do you want to lose? West Germany or Argentina? I’m not going to watch that. I want them both to lose.”
Reflecting back on the game and Maradona, Peter Shilton says: “He was a great player, the greatest I played against. But I wouldn’t say he’s a player I respect as much as a lot of others.”