As an admitted live sports addict, I've been to many events and matches all over the world, and had the chance to visit some of the most iconic sporting stadiums and arenas. Along with Melbourne's on MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) – one of the great stadiums of the world - I've visited the likes of Croke Park in Ireland, Madison Square Garden in New York City and Fenway Park in Boston.
Each of these stadiums is famous for events that have taken place inside their walls (not all of it good) and as a sports junkie, the chance to see these and other “shrines” to great sporting moments is hugely satisfying. Quite often my time in these cities doesn't correspond with an actual event which means that a stadium tour is the best I can hope for. And while nothing can replicate the atmosphere of a live event in a great stadium, sometimes seeing the place where “the magic happens” is enough.
This week I was able to visit Estadio Azteca, which is currently the fifth largest stadium in the world with a capacity of 105,000, and now the largest I've ever been in. While I wasn't able to visit the stadium during an event, this was one sporting shrine I did not want to miss.
Me at Estadio Azteca
In addition to hosting the football matches during the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico City, the stadium has also hosted two World Cup Finals, with Brazil and Argentina holding the cup aloft in 1970 and 1986 respectively. All of this would be enough to make Azteca one of the most famous stadiums in the world, however it also hosted arguably the most famous match and moment in the history of football, when Argentina defeated England 2-1 in the Quarter Finals of the 1986 tournament.
The two goals by Argentina, both scored by one of the all time greats in Diego Maradona, are perhaps the best and worst goals of all time. Certainly the most controversial.
"A little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of god"
The first goal, known universally as the “Hand of God” goal has been seen as everything from the worst thing to ever happen in football, to pay back for the Falklands war, which happened four years earlier. Whatever your opinion on the goal or the diminutive Argentinian star, that goal will live on in football infamy, and will forever haunt English football fans – so cant be all bad.
The second goal could not be any different from the first. Coming only minutes after the infamous goal described above, Maradona's solo run from mid field to score the second and deciding goal has gone on to be described as the “Goal of the Century”.
For these two iconic moments to happen to the same player is highly unlikely. For it to happen in the same game just minutes apart makes this game possibly the most talked about in history. If you click on the comments for the Youtube videos in the blog, you'll see debate about these events still carrying on to this day. This is a day in football history that wont soon be forgotten. And while a stadium tour is far from being there, at least I got to see where the magic happened.