Maradona's 'Hand of God' goal apology too late: England goalkeeper

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London, Feb.2 : England goalkeeper Peter Shilton has branded Argentinean Diego Maradona's apology for his sly 'Hand of God' goal in 1986 as "too little, too late".

The 58-year-old goalkeeping great expressed his dismay over the apology 22 years on, as it put paid to England's hopes of moving into the semi-finals of the World Cup.

"He's had so many chances to do it over the years it actually feels hollow now. The guy should have said sorry straight after the game - that's what a truly great player like Pele would have done," The Sun quoted Shilton, as saying.

Shilton, who played 125 times for England, added: "I think the fact our countries had just finished being at war meant he didn't want to apologise then and there. It was just a great shame because he was the best player I've played against. But what he did changed my view of him. I think that everyone remembers him for all the wrong reasons - even now."

Shilton watched helpless as Maradona punched the ball into England's net - Argentina's first goal in a 2-1 victory.

He added: "It'll stay with me for ever. The first goal in that game was always going to be so important. It gave the Argentineans a psychological edge and we all knew we'd gone behind to a handball - it cast doubt in our minds."

"If it had gone into extra time, who knows what would have happened," he said.

Shilton, who won two European Cups with Nottingham Forest, was also angry at Maradona for his attack on David Beckham yesterday.

Maradona, 47, told The Sun Becks was not a "great" player and there were "hundreds" worldwide as good as England's former skipper.

"I think it's very difficult to say that a player who has got 99 caps for his country is not great. I think what he was saying was that Beckham didn't have his dribbling ability. But could Maradona have consistently hit free kicks and long passes the way Beckham did? I don't think so," said Shilton.

Shilton also backed Paul Robinson to win back England's number one shirt - and offered to help him.

ANI

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