Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Former England Defender: It’s time to end the ‘Hand of God’ obsession

Posted on 28 November 2020 by Colin Benjamin

Even in the immediate aftermath of the late, great, Diego Maradona’s death, sections of the English press have felt unable to resist references to the infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal.

Immediately after Maradona’s death, both the Daily Mirror and the Daily Star ran headlines referencing his ‘Hand of God’ at the 1986 World Cup, Mexico.

Former England defender Terry Fenwick – one of several men Maradona breezed past en route to scoring the ‘Goal of the Century’ during the infamous 1986 World Cup quarter-final – believes it’s time the English press put to bed their ‘Hand of God’ obsession.

The Argentine legend died on Wednesday at the tender age of 60. Fenwick insists that people’s sole focus should be on remembering the footballing genius of the man he believes is the greatest to have ever laced on a pair of football boots.

“I implore the global press to ignore Maradona’s off-field life. We need to remember the greats of sports properly, especially someone who, in my eyes, was the greatest there has ever been,” Fenwick said.

“I would solely want people to remember the fabulous football player that he was, because of the skill set he had and how he entertained us over the years.

“Diego was the best footballer in the world in my time. This guy had so much talent and formidable background and mindset towards football.

“There was no fear within him and it’s such a sad time to think he is now dead at only 60.”

Fenwick, who played in central defence and was booked on that famous day at Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, recounted how England wrongly assumed they could keep Maradona quiet with their superior physicality.

“Before the game [England manager] the late Sir Bobby Robson discussed our pregame details. I fully expected to be tasked with man marking him, but [Robson] decided not to do that and simply the nearest guy near to him would do it,” Fenwick recalled.

“I remember Maradona kept on talking to me throughout the game. There I was trying to intimidate him, thinking I could put him off his game and stop him from putting on that ‘Maradona spell.’

“He destroyed our game plan and, looking back, in some ways we might have underestimated how good and clever he was with the ball. He wanted the ball all over the field, he would drop into midfield and once he turned and got on his bike he was unstoppable.”

The match, of course, finished in a 2-1 win for Argentina, whose intelligent, creative players dominated an England team with talent, but limited imagination.

“I look back at my career in the Premiership when it was the old Division One, everything was structured. We went into every game whether at my club or with the England national side with a game plan and everyone stuck to it,” Fenwick explained.

Fenwick: “I was forever trying to bring [Maradona] to Trinidad and Tobago.” [Photo courtesy TTFA MEDIA]
Fenwick, who is currently the head coach of the Trinidad and Tobago national team, harbours no ill feeling towards the flawed genius. Instead, he only regrets not getting to meet Maradona after the 1986 tournament, as his plans to bring him to his adopted homeland came to naught.

“A friend of mine from Norway was one of his managers for a long period of time and I was forever trying to bring him to Trinidad and Tobago to see the football public. To me this would have been perfect inspiration moment for a developing football nation to experience the presence of a globally heralded icon, in football that is the biggest sport on the planet and to see a man who I and many view as being the best footballer of all time.”

That Fenwick’s biggest regret is not being able to reacquaint himself with Maradona is telling. After all, if he of all people is over the ‘Hand of God,’ isn’t it time the rest of us were, too?