The FIFA World Cup has witnessed many splendid individual efforts, but the sheer magic which Diego Maradona whipped up at Mexico 1986 is something which has left a lasting impression on football fans across the globe.
The talismanic captain galvanised Argentina and led them to glory.
The 1982 World Cup had ended in bitter disappointment for Maradona, when he retaliated after being subjected to numerous fouls.
He was red-carded for a foul on Brazil's Batista and Argentina failed to get past the second round.
By the time the 1986 World Cup kicked off, Maradona was already hailed as the best in the business. But there were a few who doubted the Napoli star's greatness, with Brazilian legend Pele being the most prominent one.
Maradona knew very well he will be judged on how he fared in Mexico and the little genius worked hard to be in the best shape for the biggest tournament of his career.
Maradona was coach Carlos Bilardo's trump card and the rival managers knew the key was to keep him in check. But it was easier said than done.
Another star player Daniel Passarella was ruled unfit ahead of the tournament and had to be replaced by fellow defender Jose Luis Brown in the first eleven.
Argentina began their campaign with a 3-1 win over South Korea. La Albiceleste played out a 1-1 draw with holders Italy in the second game and Maradona opened his account. A 2-0 win over Bulgaria meant Argentina topped the group ahead of Italy.
Pedro Pasculli netted the lone goal as Argentina edged out Uruguay to seal a quarterfinal berth where England awaited them.
It was an emotional battle for both teams as the match followed the Falklands War of 1982, which was fought by the UK and Argentina.
Maradona has narrated in the book 'Touched by God: How We Won the Mexico '86 World Cup' how pumped up were the Argentine players for the occasion.
A tale of two goals
The match at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City was a tale of two goals – both scored by Maradona – and those two goals will be talked about for ever.
After a barren first half, Mardona broke the deadlock when he used his hand to get the better of a much taller Peter Shilton in the England goal. The pleas of the English players fell on deaf ears as Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser deemed it a legitimate goal.
If street-smartness paved the way for the opening goal, it was sheer individual brilliance which accounted for the second one. After receiving the ball in his own half, Maradona swiveled around and dribbled past five English players before outwitting Shilton with a feint and placed the ball into the net.
This was later voted by FIFA as the greatest World Cup goal and also the 'Goal of the Century'. Though Gary Linekar pulled one back, Argentina held on for a 2-1 win.
At the post-match press conference, Maradona described his first goal as the 'Hand of God.'
Maradona scored another brace as Argentina beat underdogs Belgium 2-0 in the semifinals to set up a title clash with West Germany.
Maradona was the monarch as Argentina ran up a 2-0 lead by the 55th minute in the final. But Franz Beckenbauer's Germany, playing in their second successive final, were a resilient lot. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge reduced the margin in the 73rd and Rudi Voller headed home seven minutes later as the Germans drew level.
But, with the final headed for extra-time, Maradona sent an inch perfect pass for Jorge Burruchaga who slotted past Harald Schumacher to seal the fate of the Germans.
Argentina won their second World Cup and for Maradona it was the realisation of a dream. He had ended the debate as to who was the greatest player on the planet by dishing out a simply exquisite brand of football. Though, Maradona went on to feature in two more World Cup finals, he could not make the huge impact he made in the Mexico World Cup.