Tuesday, September 24, 2013

24 September 1983 - There's More Than One Way To Win A Title

On 24 September 1983, a brutal challenge by Andoni Goikoetxea sidelined Diego Maradona for three months with a broken ankle.

Maradona was in his second season with Barcelona after making a world-record £5 million transfer from Boca Juniors in the summer of 1982. Despite a bout with hepatitis that first season, he helped Barça win the Copa del Rey and finish fourth in the league, leading to high expectations for a season with Maradona in full health.

But that changed when they hosted defending league champions Athletic in September. With Barcelona leading 1-0 and Maradona advancing the ball, Athletic center back Andoni Goikoetxea lunged at the Argentinian from behind, catching his left leg, leaving Maradona crumpled on the pitch with broken ankle. The tackle, called by one commentator "one of the most brutal ever seen in Spanish club soccer," earned Goikoetxea the nickname "the Butcher of Bilbao" (helped by the fact that Goikoetxea had broken leg of Barcelona's Berndt Schuster two years earlier).

Barcelona went on to win the match 4-0, but Maradona missed three months in recovery. Despite his absence, the finished third in the league, one point out of first. Athletic repeated at champions and also won the Copa del Rey, beating Barcelona 1-0.

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