Maradona later gave conflicting accounts of what had happened. At first he said he had never touched the ball with his fist; then he said he had done so accidentally; then he attributed the goal to divine intervention, to “the hand of God.”
This infuriated the English.
“Brazen and shameless, Maradona was all mock innocence, talking about the ‘hand of God,’” Brian Glanville wrote in his book “The History of the World Cup.” “For England, rather, it was the hand of the devil.”
Four minutes later, Maradona scored again, eventually giving Argentina a 2-1 victory. His second goal came after a dribble of 70 yards through five English players and a final feint past Shilton to punch the ball into an empty net. Deftly, he changed directions like a slalom skier slashing from one gate to another.
In his book “The Simplest Game,” Paul Gardner described the run as “10 seconds of pure, unimaginable soccer skill to score one of the greatest goals in the history of the World Cup.”
In the 1986 final, Maradona’s pass through the middle of the West German defense set up the winning goal in a 3-2 victory for Argentina. “No player in the history of the World Cup had ever dominated in the way Maradona ruled over Mexico-86,” Gardner wrote.
Maradona threatened to will his way through the 1990 World Cup — gathering a loose ball, feinting around a defender and passing through a thicket of legs to assist on the only goal in a quarterfinal win against Brazil. In the semifinals, against Italy, the host team, Maradona scored the penalty kick that put Argentina ahead as it won the shootout.
This was Maradona in his glory. The match was played in the raucous port city of Naples, where Maradona had played professionally and led Napoli to two titles in the Italian League. Audaciously, he had asked fans there to cheer for Argentina over Italy.