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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday's 'game of God': Will Diego Maradona recreate

Diego Maradona has sorted out his friends and enemies before he enters the Hampden Park stadium in Glasgow on Wednesday night to create history yet again.

The Argentina-Scotland match is expected to eclipse even the England-Germany face-off the same night because of the presence of the man with the "hand of God" who wants to win his first match as the Argentine coach on the same ground he scored his first international goal against the same team in 1979.

He told The Guardian on Tuesday: "It's something that was very special to me. It was nice to start my international career and get my first goal here. What I want to do in terms of repaying them is hopefully put on a good spectacle tomorrow night."

Enemies first. There's actually only one and he has hated Maradona for the last 22 years. Terry Butcher, the Scots' assistant manager, was part of the English team which was knocked out of the 1986 World Cup because of Maradona's infamous 'hand of God' goal.

And Butcher has refused to shake hands with the new Argentine coach before the kick- off because he has never "forgiven" him for that loss to a disputed goal by Maradona that he attributed to the "hand of God".

Maradona brushed it aside: "I'm not going to seek him out. I don't know why Butcher would take this attitude. Let him get on with his life, and I'll get on with mine. I won't lose any sleep over it."

He is otherwise loved in Scotland and popular among even diehard Scots fans. "I'm very much aware of how popular I am in Scotland. I'm glad I somehow made the people of this country happy and if I get the chance I will do so again... to repay the fans in Scotland for their support I want to offer up a spectacle tomorrow night."

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