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Learning English - Words in the News
24 August, 2005 - Published 13:30 GMT
Maradona and the 'Hand of God'
Maradona's 'Hand of God' goal

The former football star, Diego Maradona, has admitted publicly for the first time that he used his hand to score one of the most controversial goals in the history of the international game. This report from Harry Peart:

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There has long been intense football rivalry between Argentina and England, but when the two teams met in the quarter finals of the 1986 World Cup, the disputed goal became one of the most famous in the world. Challenging the England goalkeeper for the ball, the short and stocky Maradona raised his left arm into the air to fist the ball into the net. Television pictures and photographs released later, showed the goal to be illegal.

Maradona claimed it was 'the Hand of God' which had guided the ball, not his own. Argentina went on to win 2-1 and eventually lift the World Cup. Since then the incident has irked English supporters, but given satisfaction to Argentine fans.

Nineteen years later, speaking on his own television show, Maradona has finally admitted a truth which everyone knew. Few will be angered - his second goal against England in the same match was one of the finest individual efforts in World Cup history. The defeated England coach, Bobby Robson, described it as a miracle, which following 'the Hand-of-God' goal seems supremely apt.

Harry Peart, BBC sports correspondent

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intense football rivalry
strong competition between football teams

the disputed goal
the goal over which there is disagreement

short and stocky
if you describe someone as 'short and stocky', you mean they are not very tall, and they are strong and well-built

to fist the ball into the net
to put the ball into the goal using a hand; a fist is a tightly closed hand, and 'the net' is the goal in football

claimed it was 'the Hand of God'
you use 'claim' to report what someone says when you are not sure whether what they are saying is true; 'the Hand of God' means a divine or superhuman action

lift the World Cup
win the World Cup; this expression comes from the tradition of the captain of the winning team lifting the cup/trophy above his head in triumph after the match

irritated or annoyed

belonging to the losing team

a miracle
a surprising and fortunate event; a miracle is also a wonderful and surprising event believed to have been caused by God

supremely apt
extremely suitable, perfectly fitting

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