In a way, you have to pity Peter Shilton.
England’s most capped footballer, a man of many accomplishments, is clearly still filled with rage because of something that happened in the trivial setting of a game of football 34 years ago. If he were just able to move on, chances are he’d be a happier person.
Let it go, man.
Diego Maradona, a global legend of the sport and certainly among only a handful of individuals who can lay claim to being the greatest of all time, died at the age of just 60. Yet within hours, Shilton was publicly slating a man who brought joy to millions around the world.
A newspaper column penned quickly in response to the awful news was an opportunity to be magnanimous, sympathetic and to focus on the bigger picture. He gave brief lip service to the idea of being respectful, but by the second paragraph was revisiting the same tired ‘cheat’ narrative.
It was a tone-deaf response from a bitter old man.
If Shilton were to do an ‘AITA’ post on Reddit about Maradona, the answer would be yes, Peter, it’s you. You are the asshole.
Maradona’s passing calls for celebrating his life and all of the wonderful things he did. He inspired generations of footballers, became an icon in Italy and a deity in Napoli, while his legacy will continue to live on after his death. To react by sticking the knife in and highlighting his flaws tells you more about the man making such comments.
The ‘Hand of God’ has its rightful place in football folklore. But Shilton is fixated on it. His assertion that, somehow, Maradona only scored his solo effort against England later in the same game at the 1986 World Cup, later dubbed ‘Goal of the Century’, because of the first is pathetic and laughable.
“It has bothered me over the years,” seems like an understatement. Shilton, now 71, has been holding on to that anger for half his life and doesn’t look like he’ll be free of it any time soon.
Refusal to accept it is not a good look.
Yes, it was wrong that the ‘Hand of God’ was allowed to stand, but it is also far from the first or last piece of cheating ever seen in football.
Using it to tarnish someone who has just died, when their life was so much more, is quite despicable. Maradona did much more in that 1986 tournament alone to be remembered positively for, let alone the rest of his career and life.
“I hope it doesn’t taint Maradona’s legacy,” Shilton said as he concluded his nasty column, having spent the preceding 721 words using it to do just that. The only legacy being tainted, Peter, is yours.
Gary Lineker was also on the pitch for England that day in Mexico. But instead, he used his platform on BT Sport to deliver a moving tribute of his personal memories of Maradona.
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