'Hand of God' linesman dies

Maradona's infamous 'Hand of God' goal... (Getty Images)
Maradona's infamous 'Hand of God' goal... (Getty Images)

Sofia - The Linesman who failed to signal Diego Maradona's infamous 'Hand of God' World Cup goal against England has died, the Bulgarian Football Federation said on Thursday.

Bulgarian Bogdan Dotchev, a former player, was 80.

He is best known for running the line when then-Argentina captain Maradona leapt above England goalkeeper Peter Shilton to punch in the opening goal of the World Cup quarter-final in Mexico City in 1986.

Maradona scored a mesmerising second as Argentina won the match 2-1, going on to lift the trophy, beating West Germany 3-2 in the final.

After the England match, Maradona described his first goal as the 'Hand of God'.

Amidst fierce criticism, Dotchev always maintained he hadn't seen Maradona use his hand - although Shilton and England's defence certainly hadn't been fooled.

"I don't like talking about the 'Hand of God' because I've always been honest no matter what is said about me," Dotchev told Bulgarian media last year when he turned 80 and on the 30th anniversary of that infamous match.

However, he insisted that he never wanted to meet Maradona.

"He disrupted my whole life - I'm accused even though I'm not guilty."

Dotchev was an international referee from 1977 until 1986, his career ending with that glaring error.

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