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Maradona denies apology for 'hand of God' goal

Diego Maradona dismisses reports that he apologises for the controversial 'hand of God' goal in 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

world Updated: Feb 04, 2008 10:34 IST

Argentina's former football great Diego Maradona has dismissed reports that he had apologised for the controversial "hand of God" goal he scored against England during the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

"They changed my words in the story. I'm going to talk with the interpreter who was there, Walter Soriano, and ask him for an explanation," Maradona said in a statement Saturday, EFE news agency reported on Sunday.

"If I could apologise and go back and change history I would do," Maradona, who visited Britain earlier this week, was quoted as saying in the interview published Thursday by The Sun tabloid.

But the 47-year-old Maradona later told Buenos Aires's La Red radio that really "what I said was that a long time has passed since that and that history couldn't be replayed."

The "hand of God" refers to a play during the World Cup quarterfinal match between Argentina and England in which Maradona punched the ball into the back of the net, a goal that Tunisian referee Ali Bennaceur let stand as a header.

After the game, which Argentina won 2-1, Maradona enraged English fans by cheekily saying that he scored the first goal "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God."

The enormous controversy surrounding the "hand of God" goal overshadowed Maradona's brilliant second goal of that match, when he dribbled the ball 60 meters and eluded five English players before guiding a shot past English goalkeeper Peter Shilton.

The latter was voted the "Goal of the Century" in a poll on FIFA's website shortly before the start of the 2002 World Cup.