Ranking Diego Maradona's Top 10 Goals

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IMarch 4, 2013

Ranking Diego Maradona's Top 10 Goals

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    Argentine footballing legend Diego Maradona was a special footballer who scored some of the game's most memorable goals. That much we all know.

    However, which of those memorable goals was the best is a question that quite justifiably divides opinion—after all, there are so many crackers to choose from.

    In World Cups alone, there were stunners against England, Belgium and Greece to consider—that is before even considering the merits of his efforts in domestic football in Argentina, Spain and Italy.

    The "Hand of God" may have been the goal that lives longest in the memory, but which was of the highest quality? Take a look at our Top 10 and decide for yourself.

No. 10: Vs. Argentinos, 1995

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    We begin our journey through Maradona's goals in the final years of his career and with a free-kick for Boca Juniors against Argentinos Juniors.

    Argentinos, of course, were the club who introduced a 15-year-old Maradona to professional football. Nearly 20 years on from that debut, he would consign his former side to defeat in the Torneo Apertura.

    Given the proximity of the foul to the box, it is simply a masterful display of set-piece control to find the far corner. The goalkeeper could get nowhere near it.

    Maradona may have been well into his 30s and far from the expected fitness levels of a professional athlete, but the talent still shone through.

No. 9: Vs. Real Madrid, 1983

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    It was June 1983 and the return leg of the Copa de la Liga final when Maradona scored what is arguably the best goal of his two year stint at Barcelona.

    With his side having left Real Madrid for dead on the counter-attack, the Argentine wizard came into his own.

    Rather than simply shoot, Maradona first rounded the goalkeeper and then cut inside the despairing lunge of the unfortunate Juan José before slotting home.

    The goal would help see Barça to an aggregate 4-3 win over their Clasico rivals to win a second cup competition of the season.

No. 8: Vs. Belgrano, 1996

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    Another goal from the latter years of his illustrious career at Boca Juniors, and on this occasion, Maradona produces a sublime lob with the outside of his boot to help Boca defeat Belgrano.

    It is a goal of such outstanding judgement that there are surely only a handful of players in the history of world football who could have produced such a finish.

    The goal helped Boca to a 2-0 win in the 1996 Torneo Clausura to complete what was the ageing star's only truly impressive season after returning to Argentina.

    Following the campaign, El Diego would play just seven more times in two years before retirement.

No. 7: Vs. Milan, 1987

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    It's November 1988 and Napoli are taking on major title rivals AC Milan at the Stadio San Paolo. So, what better way to send out a message than humiliating your opponents?

    Ninety minutes later and with a 4-1 win to their name, few could argue that it wasn't a case of "message sent" by Maradona, Careca et al.

    It was, predictably, the Argentine who set the ball rolling on the impressive victory, as shown in the video above.

    A storming run through the heart of the AC Milan defence onto a lofted through-ball saw the attacking midfielder spring the offside trap.

    With the keeper advancing, he looked to have few options, but headed powerfully over the advancing gloveman to score with his head from well outside the area. An impressive and wonderfully executed feat.

No. 6: Vs. Greece, 1994

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    This goal against Greece from the 1994 World Cup is as much about the wonderful interplay of Claudio Caniggia and Fernando Redondo as it is about the equally impressive finish of Maradona.

    However, what a finish it was.

    With the ball on his favoured left foot, he was renowned as a lethal finisher. The venom and accuracy of the shot on this occasion, though, was highly impressive.

    Sadly, the goal would ultimately be tarnished as Maradona was soon to be sent home from the tournament in disgrace following a failed drugs test for banned stimulant ephedrine.

    The failed test would end his international career after 91 matches and 34 goals for the Albiceleste.

No. 5: Vs. River Plate, 1981

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    There are so many things to like about this goal from a young looking Maradona; a Superclassico fixture between Boca Juniors and fierce rivals River Plate is an appropriate setting for such wondrous play.

    Although so simple at the feet of the great Argentine, it is such a difficult goal to execute.

    Firstly, just plucking the ball out of the air while on the run would be the end of the move with most other players. Then, having brought the ball under instantaneous control, the composure to round the keeper is astounding.

    The rest was easy, but even in simply sliding the ball past the defender Maradona still managed to make it look classy. A truly outstanding demonstration of his ability to control a football.

No. 4: Vs. Belgium, 1986

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    Another World Cup goal and this time from the semi-final of the 1986 tournament that would so define Maradona's footballing career.

    Having already given his side a lead that would have seen them qualify for the World Cup final, Maradona could have been forgiven for taking it easy and resting up for the big challenge ahead. That, though, is not how he operates.

    Picking up the ball 30-yards out from goal, the Argentine set about enthralling his opponents. Between two he went, before veering left and round the other centre-back into a position to shoot.

    Would he be affected by the narrowed angle and defensive pressure? Of course not. A fine finish to the keeper's left made it 2-0 and saw Argentina move onwards towards World Cup glory.

No. 3: Vs. Verona, 1985

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    The third goal in an October 1985 thrashing of Verona, but there is little more that words can add to the video of this one.

    Lovely first time control from the long-ball helps bring the shot into the equation, but what follows is pure brilliance.

    With one swing of that famous left leg, the ball is sent on an inch-perfect trajectory towards the opposition net, clipping the post on its way into the goal.

    Could he have repeated it? Maybe not. However, to achieve such awesome ball striking just once would be beyond most people. An incredible goal.

No. 2: Vs. Lazio, 1985

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    It appears then that 1985 was a very good year for Maradona in terms of producing incredible finishes; this remarkable lobbed effort in a 4-0 victory over Lazio is another wonderful example of his quality with a football.

    The remarkable thing about the goal is not the distance or the accuracy of the lob, but the angle in which he is forced to strike the ball. Just to get the ball vaguely on target, his leg is forced to almost come across his body at a remarkably acute angle.

    The results, though, were spectacular as the ball looped upwards and curled round towards the far corner of the net, dropping just under the bar to leave the bemused goalkeeper helplessly running into his own net.

    There are lobbed finishes every weekend in Europe's major leagues, but this one truly tops them all for the difficulty and precision of its execution.

No. 1: Vs. England, 1986

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    The "Hand of God" opening goal may have grabbed the headlines post-match, but it was Maradona's second sensational effort that deserved to be given the media's full attention.

    Eventually, though, Maradona's outrageous World Cup quarter-final effort against England would become known as the "Goal of the Century" for its magnificence.

    Has there been a better individual goal scored in a major tournament? Possibly not.

    Five Englishmen—Steve Hodge, Peter Beardsley, Peter Reid, Terry Butcher and Terry Fenwick–were left trailing in his wake en-route to goal. Their feat, though, looked positively kind in comparison with that of goalkeeper Peter Shilton, who was rounded with almost disdainful ease before the calmness of the finish.

    The World Cup in 1986 was Maradona's defining tournament as a footballer and this goal the crowning moment of that triumph.

    For all his mistakes off the pitch, it is this majesty with a ball at his feet that will forever make people fondly remember the name Diego Armando Maradona.

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