World Cup 1986: When Maradona lit up the world of football

With popularity of the tournament increasing globally, the number of teams vying for a spot in the main draw increased to 121.

Diego Maradona
Argentina defeated West Germany 3-2 to lift the World Cup trophy [Carlo Fumagalli/AP Photo]

Host: Mexico
Teams: 24
Format: Group stage, knockouts
Matches: 52
Goals: 132
Winner: Argentina
Runners-up: West Germany
Golden Boot: Gary Lineker (England)


Mexico became the first country to host the World Cup twice after Colombia, originally picked to host the tournament, pulled out four years before the tournament due to financial reasons.

Canada, USA and Mexico put their names forward as replacement hosts and Mexico was chosen by the FIFA executive council.

With the popularity of the tournament increasing globally, the number of teams vying for a spot in the main draw increased to 121. Africa and Asia were given two spots each, while Europe had 14 and South America four.

Canada, Denmark and Iraq made their World Cup debuts.

Maradona, 25, led his side and played every minute of their World Cup journey, scoring five goals and providing five assists.

Denmark made a stunning debut, winning all their group games but were knocked out in the second round by Spain.

Holders Italy were also knocked out in the second round by France.

France, Belgium and Mexico proceeded to the quarterfinals with penalty shootout wins. The fourth quarterfinal between Argentina and England was decided in normal time but with no less excitement. Maradona scored the first goal, an apparent header which would later turn out to have touched his hand and termed the “Hand of God” goal.

The second one, voted the goal of the century on FIFA website in 2002, saw Maradona make a run from his own half and beat five England players before beguiling the goalkeeper. The match came on the back of the 1982 Falklands War between the two nations.

Argentina met West Germany in the final, and looked set for a win with a 2-0 lead when the Germans made a trademark comeback. Six minutes from time, Maradona created the perfect opportunity for Jorge Burruchaga, who duly converted to give Argentina their second World Cup title.


Maradona’s mesmerising performance.

Debuts for Canada, Denmark and Iraq.

Birth of the Mexican wave.


Controversy over host selection.

Source: Al Jazeera