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Ex-Tunisian referee eulogizes Maradona

Ex-Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser speaking to AFP.   -  
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Tunisian former referee Ali Bin Nasser eulogizes the late Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona who died at the age of 60 on Wednesday, describing him as a ''genius''. Nasser officiated the 1986 world cup quarterfinal, in which Diego Maradona scored his famous double against England.

He admitted that he had doubts about the validity of Maradona's infamous 'Hand of God' goal, but said the football legend's second strike in the game was a "masterpiece".

In the 51st minute of a politically-charged last-eight clash in Mexico, four years after the Falklands War, Maradona outjumped England goalkeeper Peter Shilton and punched the ball into the net to give his country the lead.

"I had doubts, but I didn't see the hand. I looked backwards until I got to the halfway line so that it would confirm to me 100 % that it was a goal, I tuned it in. And here, I thank the England players were really fair. Only Mr. (Gary) Lineker came to me and said "please, referee, hand ball", I said "please play" and that's it", he said.

The 76-year-old said he believed he was a go-to man for FIFA in tough matches, and that the world football's governing body gave him a high rating for his performance in the game.

Argentina netted their place in the semi-finals of a tournament they would go on to win when Maradona put them two goals ahead with a strike later voted the 'Goal of the Century'.

The then-Napoli star evaded six England players' attempts to either tackle or foul him during a mesmerizing run from the halfway line, before prodding into an empty net.

29-years later, Maradona visited Bin Nasser while shooting an advertisement in Tunisia, giving him a T-shirt bearing the words "To my eternal friend Ali".

"I was behind him, the first foul was on Maradona, I said "play, advantage". The second the same thing, then third, and then he went into the penalty area. What do I see? The defender's foot on Maradona's foot, and the goal in the back of the net after the 50-meter effort. I was proud to participate in this goal that was voted best goal of the century, I participated in advantage, even Maradona when he visited me at home, he said that it was thanks to this gentleman that I had this goal of the century", Nasser recalls.

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