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Maradona tells ex-England stars to get a life

London, Nov.19 : Former Argentine football star Diego Maradona has told England to stop bleating about his 1986 World Cup 'Hand of God' goal. He claimed Sir Alf Ramsey's team cheated to win the World Cup! Maradona also hit out at former England defender Terry Butcher for saying he would never forgive the new Argentina coach for his behaviour in 1986 in Mexico. Maradona said: "England won a World Cup with a goal that never crossed the line. So it's not fair that anyone should judge me when stuff like that went on."

Maradona faces Butcher, now Scotland's No 2, again tonight in a friendly at Hampden Park.

The Argentine added: "I'm not going to seek him out. I'll get on with my life and he'll get on with his."

Butcher had earlier said that if he comes across Maradona, he would like to thrash him severely for his 1986 "Hand of God" goal in the World Cup.

More than 22 years on, Maradona probably does not know the full extent of the pain he has caused to Butcher.

The pair sat side by side in the bowels of Mexico City's Aztec Stadium on June 22, 1986, just minutes after their World Cup quarter-final had ended in a hugely controversial 2-1 victory for the South Americans in front of a crowd of 114,580.

Hardly a word was exchanged as they waited for a post-match urine test. But in the years since then, that has filled Butcher with regret. So much so, he would pay a fortune to turn the clock back and confront Maradona for cheating his way into football folklore.

Butcher will never forget how Tunisian referee Ali Bennaceur incredibly failed to spot Maradona jump and fist the ball past Peter Shilton for the opening goal for Argentina.

Four minutes later Maradona scored one of the great goals of all time, after leaving a string of England players in his wake. All England could manage was Gary Lineker's 81st-minute consolation.

Butcher, now Scotland's assistant manager, declared: "His attitude long afterwards annoyed me. He never admitted to what had happened.

The Sun quoted him as saying "I also blame Stevie Hodge, right enough. I still can't believe he tried to play the ball back to Shilts. Had he booted it off the pitch we would have been all right. But Maradona came into that drugs room and celebrated.

"I couldn't speak Spanish and knew he knew no English, so I gestured to him to ask if he'd used his head or his hand for the goal. He pointed to his head. I think he feared that, because it was a small room and there were three Englishmen in there - myself, Kenny Sansom and Gary Stevens - he ought to take the safest option" said Butcher.

"That was the thing that irritated me most. If he had come in and said he had used his hand, and apologised, I'd only have wanted to hit him four or five times rather than the usual 20."

Story first published: Wednesday, November 19, 2008, 13:17 [IST]
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