God’s knee strike. Maradona knocked out an opponent in front of the king

Athletic Bilbao, who are celebrating their upcoming birthday today, are primarily known for their rigorous approach to recruitment and, of course, loud fans. At the same time, it rarely comes to direct confrontations in the stands in matches involving the Basque club. And for the uprising to start right on the field, something extraordinary must happen. What happened during the Copa del Rey final in 1984 – moreover, the players of Barcelona and Athletic did not even need the “help” of the fans to write the not the most glorious page in the history of the clubs.

Preconditions for the conflict

La Liga

The story of enmity began in September 1983. Then Athletic defender Andoni Goykoechea, who would later be called the Butcher for his rough style of play, inflicted a serious injury on Diego Maradona himself. Initially, the doctors even said that the Argentine may have to end his sports career – and then the world would not see the brilliant Diego at the World Cup in Mexico. But Maradona quickly recovered, given the nature of the damage, and entered the field after three months. From that moment on, the word “Atletico” acted on him like a red rag on a bull, and with the offender he was eager to take personal revenge. That chance was given to him the following year.

Massacre in front of the monarch

From the very first minutes of the Cup final, in which the King of Spain took part, the Athletic players themselves added a good dose of fuel to the fire of passions. Acting in a tough way familiar to them in those years, they constantly provoked the Barcelona players to no less radical answers. At the same time, the Basques still managed to win with a minimum score. It was clear that conflict was most likely inevitable. But what began on the field after the final whistle struck even the most phlegmatic fans. Maradona didn’t look for Goikoechea on the pitch and decided to recover from the first one that came to hand – or, to be more precise, underfoot. Diego broke the jaw of an Athletic substitute with a powerful blow to the knee, after which a real massacre ensued on the field.

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Those who did not actively participate in the arrangement of the report were counted on the fingers of one hand. The Spanish monarch’s reaction to what happened next hasn’t been reported, but it’s unlikely he was planning to see any semblance of a street fight after the football. When the police intervened, the Barcelona players were forcibly escorted to the dressing rooms to protect themselves from the wrath of the “willing avengers” represented by Athletic fans.

After the battle

As a result of the fight between the players of Barcelona and Atletico, oddly enough, the Italian Napoli turned out to be the winner. Maradona received a three-month ban for his brutal trick, and the Catalans, without waiting for its completion, sold the Argentine rebel out of harm’s way. One of the most glorious periods of Diego’s career is linked to Napoli: he helped Napoli win the first two Scudetti in the club’s history. But this could not have happened, the rudeness of Bilbao did not anger him in the fall of 1983.


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