Nineteen Years Later Maradona Finally Admits to Cheating on Controversial 'Hand of God' Goal

BUENOS AIRES Argentina (AP) - Diego Maradona acknowledged that he struck the ball with his hand in the famous "Hand of God" goal against England in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals.

Speaking on his local television talk show Monday night Maradona called one of soccer's most controversial goals "something that just came out of me. It was a bit of mischief."

Maradona appeared to punch the ball into the net and officials allowed the goal to stand despite protests by the English team. Argentina went on to win the 1986 quarterfinal match 2-1 and then win the World Cup.

In his most detailed comments yet Maradona said he was unable to reach the ball for a header when he went up against the taller English goalkeeper Peter Shilton.

Shilton "was very tall. He didn't see anything and a teammate told him" afterward what happened said Maradona.

After the score Maradona said he quickly realized the line referee had allowed the goal but none of his teammates had rushed to celebrate with him -- themselves figuring the goal would be waved off.

"I was waiting for my teammates to embrace me and no one came said Maradona who was the team captain. "I told them 'Come hug me or the referee isn't going to allow it."'

In his 20-year career before retiring in 1997 Maradona starred at Argentinos Juniors and Boca Juniors and in Europe. He also led Argentina to the 1990 World Cup final and won Italian and Argentine league titles.

In 1991 Maradona failed a drug test and was banned for 15 months. Nine years later FIFA chose him and Pele as the best players in soccer history.

Recently he was appointed vice president of Boca Juniors. And with his new TV show Maradona 45 has returned to the limelight after years of dealing with cocaine addiction and health problems.