This week the legendary footballer Maradona passed away at the age of 60 and whilst many will remember him for one particular incident, he clearly meant a lot more than that to many people.

It didn’t matter what else happened after that one World Cup quarter-final game in 1986 and it was sad to see most national newspapers featuring the picture of him handling the ball into the net against a helpless Peter Shilton.

That one game defined him in this country. At the time I hated him. As a 13-year-old watching the game I thought it was grossly unfair that the referee had allowed the goal to stand. I also hated the follow up goal and didn’t think it should have been the goal of the tournament opting instead for Manuel Negrete’s ‘scissor kick’ for Mexico.

But then again we English have always had a habit of being the ‘gallant loser’, as was the case in 1990 and then again in 1998. We would rather lose with dignity than win the match. This attitude and our national grief following the exit from a tournament helps us deal with collective failure.

But here is the question.

If by some freak turn of events Gazza had managed to score with his hand, gone on to score a magnificent second goal then led us to World Cup victory would we honestly care? As a football fan and someone who has followed our national team through all their trials and tribulations, I think I know the answer to that.

It is all very well saying that we would like to win fair and square but in football like cricket and other sports, ‘fairness’ only comes into play when you are on the losing side.

The only people who should be aggrieved are those people on the football pitch. The rest of us fans know full well that if the tables were turned we would have revelled in winning in that match. There will be the familiar ‘what are you teaching the kids?’ comments – but I think it is time to be brutally honest about this once and for all.

The fact is, Diego Maradona was a genius footballer who just happened to beat us at our own game. And this was more than just about football at the time. It was about a smaller nation taking on a more powerful country and dumping them out of the World Cup. And he did it by being ugly and beautiful at the same time.