Category Archives: news

“Easy & Fast Mexican Wedding Cakes with a Chocolate Kiss”

mexican wedding cakes

Julia Child would love this cookie.  These delicate shortbread-style cookies are made with chopped, roasted pecans or walnuts, rolled in powdered sugar and are an elegant addition to any fiesta or party. They are also known with names and variations such as Pecan Balls, Russian Tea Cakes, Snowballs, Pecan Sandies, Swedish Tea Cakes.  This is my take on it.  The chocolate kiss brings it over the top. Add a cup of coffee on a cool crisp morning and it’s pick up!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped, roasted (see below) *I prefer walnuts
  • An additional 3/4 cup powdered sugar to roll cookies in
  • OPTIONAL: An additional 1/4 teaspoon kosher, rock or sea salt (or salt of your choice)
  • OPTIONAL: Package of your favorite Hershey chocolate kisses.

Preparation:

Add butter, powdered sugar and vanilla to a large mixing bowl. Mix at medium-high speed until completely mixed (you can do it by hand though). In a seperate bowl, mix flour and salt. Mix the flour into the butter about 1/2 cup at a time until well incorporated. Carefully fold in the nuts.

Take a small amount of dough and roll it into a one inch ball. Continue and place the balls on a lightly greased cookie sheeet, about 2 inches apart.  If you are using chocolate kisses, take enough dough to completely cover the chocolate kiss.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Mix additional powdered sugar. Roll the warm cookies in the powdered sugar mixture.  Wait a big until cool, and enjoy!

To Roast Pecans or Walnuts-
Place pecans on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.

Variations and Tips:

If you like a little salt and sweet taste, put a little sea, rock or kosher salt in the powdered sugar mixture that you put the warm cookies in after they bake.  The crystals will be too big to melt and you get a unique flavor.  Don’t overdo it.  A lot goes a long way.

Instead of Hershey’s kisses,  you can use dried fruit like cranberry’s, apricots, cherries, prunes, dates, or anything else you like.

For the decadent and over the top treat, use Ferrero Rocher chocolates instead of Hershey Kisses and cover them with the cookie dough before baking.  The cookies will be large and beyond decadent.  Use your imagination and have fun!  They won’t last!

Final Oakland Raider Grades @ NY Jets; Week 1: Sept. 7th, 2014

2013-raiders-jets-story

 

Final Oakland Raider Grades @ NY Jets; Week 1:

NY Jets  19 (1-0)

Oakland Raiders  14 (0-1)

 

Offense:

Rex Ryan did exactly what most teams did last year against the Raiders.  They put 7-8 men in the block, took away the run, and dared them to throw downfield.  The Raiders game plan was almost exactly what Rex Ryan would have wanted.

Derek Carr had a predictable first week.  He struggled against the rush and has a lot to learn but he kept his poise and made some nice throws.  Apologists will put all the blame on OC Greg Olsen; which some is warranted; but Carr is in a learning process and it will take time.

The Raiders game plan was awful though.  Bubble screens and quick flare passes are exactly what the Jets were hoping to see.  Many times in the first half, the Jets put a defensive back on the line and had 7-8 guys in the box.  With so many people near the line of scrimmage, there is no way that you can be expected to run so those saying the run game wasn’t there don’t get that it was taken away.

During a rare time when the Jets didn’t blitz, Carr hit WR James Jones on a great catch from 30 yards out.  The Raiders could have used a lot more of those downfield passes mixed with some slants and TE passes over the middle.  The running game had no chance against this defense but the lack of being able to pass did nothing to open things up.

 

GRADE:  D+

The Raiders had 84 total yards of offense going into the 4th quarter.  Against a Jets defense that might have near the least feared corners in the NFL, is just terrible.  The Raiders game plan was awful.  The Jets copied the same game plan that everyone else did last year; make the Raiders throw down field.  The Raiders have to open things up and use the tight end to keep the safeties and linebackers honest.

 

Defense: 

On the good side Sio Moore played a good game.  He was active and ended up with 13 tackles.  Another player who quietly did well too was another linebacker Miles Burris who added 13 of his own.  Khalil Mack still has a ways to go but he played fairly well.  He did get lost on a couple of runs and missed twice on Geno Smith runs.

The DB’s are going to struggle at times but they held their own against the pass today.  Geno Smith isn’t Johnny Unitas but it still was a nice effort. Timeless safety Charles Woodsen made a great interception early in the game.

The defensive line was awful at times.  Other than Justin Tuck, no one was consistent.  Lamarr Woodley and Pat Sims were invisible at times and Anthony Smith was up and down.  The Raiders had little to no pass rush unless they blitzed which was hard to watch.  The Jets don’t have a good offense so the Raiders need to play much better.

The Raiders run defense was absolutely awful.  They gave up 202 yards including a long 71 yard run to seal the win for the Jets.

The Raiders in the past could not rush the passer with only 4 rushing, and they could not stop the run.  So far it’s the same pattern as in the past and that leads to losses.

 

Grade C-

The Raiders were on the field for so long because of the anemic offense but you still don’t give up 200 yards against the run in the NFL.  The defensive line looked terrible at times.

 

Coaching: 

When you start a rookie quarterback you keep things vanilla; I get that; but you could not have called worse plays if Rex Ryan was calling them for the Raiders.

It was a terrible game plan against the Jets who took away the run having so many defenders at the line of scrimmage.  You have to adjust at half time and throw long on the outside or throw slants.  You can even try to get the tight end over the middle more.  You just don’t try to run and throw quick outs and bubble screens.

On defense the problems were more physical than mental.  The 4 man pass rush of the Raiders could not get to the quarterback or stop the run.

No one on the Jets is scary on offense and the Raiders didn’t do as well as they had hoped.  The DL and LB’s did not keep their lanes allowing Geno Smith to run more than they should including 2 long runs for first downs.

I wasn’t a Dennis Allen or Greg Olson fan last year and I feel the same way this year.

Grade D+

The penalties were limited so that was a positive but the game plans and the in game adjustments just aren’t there.

 

Special Teams: 

Sebastian Janikowski didn’t get a field goal attempt.  Marquette King had a good day punting including a 61 yarder and Latavius Murray did an adequate job returning kicks.  The Raiders coverage teams didn’t play overly well with Saalim Hakeem taking 2 kickoffs for 65 yards, and Jalen Saunders taking 2 punts for 15 yards.  Special teams didn’t have a huge role in this game.

 

GRADE:  C+

Nothing really epic to report here other than there were no attempts for Janikowski.

 

Overall:

The Raider fans had high hopes on opening day and this one hurt.  With all of the money spent on signings you’d thought the defense would play better.  The lack of a pass rush especially in the first half was glaring.  The defense was on the field a lot but there is still no excuse for giving up over 400 yards total offense and 202 yards on the ground to the NY Jets.  What will happen when the Raiders play a really good offense like Denver, San Diego, the 49ers or Seattle?

Derek Carr did as well as I thought he would do being a rookie quarterback.  I don’t know if starting a rookie QB against a Rex Ryan defense was overly wise, but Carr has the mentality and the talent to excel.  He had some good moments and some bad ones and you just have to be patient.  The Raiders have to throw deep & use slants and the tight end more to keep defenses honest.

Maybe I’m missing something but I was shocked at the poor offensive game plan and the lack of adjustments.  That’s not acceptable at the NFL level.  Teams now know if you fill the box with defenders and don’t allow the Raiders to run, they can’t and/or won’t throw downfield.  They have to open things up.

The Raiders played hard and they limited the penalties which is a good thing to see.  I like the Raiders linebackers a lot and I think they need to be a part of the pass rush more often.  Burris, Moore and Mack are doing well.

I predicted a 20-17 win by the Jets and they won 19-14.  The spread was 5 ½ when I saw it and like some on ESPN said, the odds makers loved the last touchdown by the Raiders.

 

Grade:  C-

     If this were the Broncos or Seattle it would be a better grade.  To give up 202 yards to the Jets on the ground and only have 84 total offensive yards to the Jets defense going into the 4th quarter is just not good.  The Raiders had some bright spots but these are the types of games that they have to win if they want to get to .500 again.  Right now their Linebackers and safeties have to carry their defense, and offensive coordinator Greg Olson has to open up the play book and throw downfield.  Their schedule is brutal so these winnable games are very important.

 

Next Opponent:  v.s. Houston Texans (1-0; last game, win @ home against the Washington Redskins 17-6)

 

Outlook:

Next weeks game with the Texans in Oakland is a flat out must win.  The Raiders are in the easy (if you can call it that) part of their schedule.   I think the Raiders have to go 4-3 in their first 7 games if they are going to get to .500.

In their last 9 they play at Seattle, San Francisco, Denver twice, and tough conference games with San Diego and Kansas City.  They also play at Cleveland in late October.  Every week is going to be a challenge and hopefully they will open things up next week.

“The Sad Death of Robin Williams; Another Comedian Gone too Soon”

Dead_Poets_Society__XVID___1989_-fanart

I think the world feels like Mr. Keating did when reading the poem at Neils desk after he committed suicide in the Movie Dead Poets Society.  Oh Captain My Captain.

I remember meeting someone who once tried for 10 years to become a stand up comedian.  He told me horror stories about the immense travel, drug and alcohol use, broken relationships and lonely times.  He talked about living near poverty for 10 years and being ripped off by many of the people who he hoped would help him. Eventually he said he just didn’t want it anymore.  He eventually married, had a child and is a very a happy man.  Comedy is a rough life.

It has been said more than a few times that comedians are usually the saddest and most dysfunctional of all the artistic performers.  The suicide of Robin Williams is another in the long line of tragedies involving comics.  The list of troubled and tragic comedian deaths over time reads like a who’s who of hollywood.  From John Belushi and Chris Farley, to Freddie Prinze Sr., Gilda Radner and Andy Kaufman. Add John Candy, Bernie Mac and John Ritter to the mix and that is the tip of the iceberg of those with great comedic talents who are gone but yet had so much more to give.  From cancer to suicide, to drug and alcohol abuse to overdose; there just seems to be a sick joke often played on comedians.

I remember when I had my medical business in Marin County.  I talked to a lady at my old church who had studied with Williams at the Marin Theater.  She said once that the class was making fun of Robin until the teacher scolded them and said, “That guy is going to make it big someday”.  She said his talent was easy to see and he was a very caring and nice person.

Robin Williams was a poster child for the lifestyle of the 70’s and 80s.  He rocketed into stardom with his appearances on the hit show Happy Days, which soon turned into his own hit show with Pam Dawber called Mork and Mindy.  Just like that show, Williams had a long strange trip ahead.  His break on Happy Days was preceeded by a couple of appearances on the Richard Pryor show.

In the 70’s and 80’s there were no limits to the excess of the party scene.  For many the drug of choice was cocaine.  It allowed people to be able to party all night and yet be energized for the demands of their busy careers.

In his early years you could see the effects of his lifestyle.  On talk shows he would talk so fast and so long, that you didn’t have a clue sometimes what he was talking about.  Soon that lifestyle would take it’s toll and he lost his friend John Belushi in 1982 from an overdose.  Two years later he would lose another great comedy friend; Andy Kaufman; who as a non smoker; lost his battle to lung cancer at the age of 35.

As with most comedians his relationships were also very hard and strange at times. He was married three times, including marrying the nanny of his son.

After entering rehab in the 80’s Williams embarked on 2 decades of sobriety.  He said the birth of his son and the loss of John Belushi were key things that made him want to stay sober.

I was never a huge Robin Williams fan and I didn’t lose my mind over Good Will Hunting, but I did enjoy his talents.  My top 3 films of his were Dead Poet’s Society, Good Morning Vietnam and Awakenings.  Each movie had amazing casts. He portrayed an honest depth and sincerity in his roles and showed off his amazing wit and sense of humor, to go along with a passionate heart.  When given the right material, he was pretty special.  Williams had so many good films to go with a dud every now and then.

As with so many comedians, the demons seem to always reappear though.  In 2006 Williams re-entered a rehab facility after he began drinking.  In 2009 he had his aortic valve replaced but had a good rehabilitation.

Many Comedians such as Williams have hearts of gold.  He was very giving of his time and money and was a big part of the Comedy Relief fundraising efforts.  When his good friend Christopher Reeve was paralyzed in an accident, he visited him and his family said it was the first time Reeve’s had laughed since being hurt.  He was a kind man.  Reeve’s wife Dana talked about how Robin helped pay for some of his treatments after his tragic injury.

Now that he is gone, there will be a frenzy of media attention.  Why did he do it?  We will probably never really know.  It’s hard to know what makes people do what they do, especially celebrities.  Some famous people can’t handle not being on top; some can’t handle the lack of notoriety and attention.  Some are just troubled souls due to the long effects of addiction and the torment and the destruction that it brings.   No matter how far they’ve come or how much they’ve accomplished, they still can’t find their way. Some fans, family and friends are going to be angry and some will be overly apologetic.  In the end, suicide is a terrible thing for all; and the pain for family and friends can be suffocating.

I will always have a special place in my heart for comedians though.  I love going to comedy shows and it drives me nuts to see hecklers or comedy club owners who don’t treat comedians right.  And even with so many who will be close to judge, in reality there is a little comedian in all of us.

And so closes another chapter in a sad tale of a comedian that we lost too soon.  As a society we lose big time.  Family and friends have a loss that is beyond measure. All we can really do now is say thank you Robin Williams for making us laugh and for being so kind to so many.  We pray for the ones you leave behind.  We hope that in some way you have found the peace that you were always looking for.

This is the poem that was read at the opening of the Dead Poets Society meetings:

“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately
I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life!
To put to rout all that was not life
And not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…”

 

“Potion of Motion” amazing & easy alcoholic & non-alcoholic punch

potion of motion

Potion of Motion” 

My love for champagne is of legend and this is a great and tasty drink that is amazing for parties.  I still love it straight but this is a great summer drink for home parties or barbecues!

Ingredients:

-Drinkable bottle or bottles of brut champagne depending on how many people are drinking.

-for one part of the juices you can use cherry, pomegranate, cranberry, guava, mango, orange, grapefruit, or any other juice that you’d like.

-large can of pineapple juice

-tall glasses filled with ice

-sliced fruit of your choice

Directions:

Put as much ice as you’d like in a tall glass.  (per your taste) Add 1 to 1/2 ounces of pineapple juice. Then add 1 to 1 1/2 ounces of your favorite (or exotic) fruit juice (look above).  Fill the rest of the glass with champagne.  Enjoy!!

Tips:

-Add exotic fruit juices for a unique and great flavor.

-put all of the juices and sliced fruit on a side table.  Put the chilled juices and champagne on ice next to it and let your guests serve themselves.

-Use sparkling water instead of champagne for the kids.  Don’t leave them out of the fun!

Awesome!!

“Summer Ginger Splash” drink recipe

 

 

 

OSC-4715

Summer Ginger Splash” 

For a refreshing and unique twist try this great drink.  I like adding maraschino cherries and a slice of lime or lemon.  Add a zest of fresh ginger on top of each glass and you are in heaven!

Ingredients:

-fresh mint leaves (add 1 tbsp. of mint per glass; more or less per your taste)
-1 cup cherry juice, OR cranberry juice, OR pomegranate juice OR Guava, OR Peach, etc….
 

-4 tablespoons lime juice
-3 cups ginger ale

*add a tbsp of sugar if you are using pomegranate juice

Directions
Add the desired amount of mint to each glass. Mash the mint with the back of a wooden spoon or crusher. In a large pitcher, add the cherry and lime juices. Stir. Add the ginger ale. You can either fill the glasses with ice or the pitcher with ice.  Pour into glasses, and garnish with any fruit you like.  Place fruit on a tray and let your guests choose!

TIPS:

****For garnish, after pouring into glasses put a thin slice or a small mince of fresh ginger on top of each glass.  I like it with a slice of lime and maraschino cherries as well!

-Slice up various amounts of fruit.  Peel oranges or grapefruit and cut into slices or chunks,  Use cherries, mango, lychee, blackberry, blueberry.  Use your imagination!

Yield: 4 servings  Enjoy!!

 

Colombia Rises Above Violence, Pain, & the loss of Andres Escobar For Redemption.

andres escobar

 

“Life doesn’t end here”.  

Andres Escobar, Colombia footballer

It still hurts today.

When you say the name Andres Escobar to a longtime soccer fan, immediately the smile will come off of their faces and a sadness will be seen.  The pain is still there for the memory of the murder of Colombian soccer star Andres Escobar even 20 years later.

In the 1994 World Cup held in the U.S., there was one team that everyone wanted to see and that was Colombia.  They were like rock stars with the likes of Carlos Valderrama, Carlos Rincon, Andres Escobar and so many others.  From the famous scorpion kick from their goalie, to the fun and amazing way they played, Colombia was definitely the team to watch.  Defensive star Andres Escobar at the age of 26 was ready to sign a large contract after the World Cup with famous Italian team AC Milan.  His dream of marrying his Fiance Pamela Cascardo and living in Italy to play soccer was coming true.

In an amazing 26 international game stretch before the World Cup, Colombia lost ONLY one game.  In the World Cup qualifying matches they gave up an unreal, 2 goals.  They were on fire dominating the World Soccer scene.

To qualify for the World Cup in 1993, they needed to tie Argentina.  Instead they gave what I believe is the worst loss for Argentina in Argentina, 5-0.  What was amazing is video shows as a sign of respect, the Buenos Aires fans giving rounds of applause to the Colombians after the game.  It placed Colombia for the first time on the world stage of soccer.  Pele and many others announced that Colombia would win the World Cup in the U.S.  The country Colombia partied like rock stars and their passion was amazing.  For once they would shed the reputation of being a violent and out of control country, and gain the respect they wanted.

At that time the rise to prominence for Colombian soccer was linked mainly to one thing; drug cartel money.  Colombia had never been a world power.  The three biggest drug Cartels, owned teams in the Colombian soccer league.  Soccer was the perfect way to launder money that they had gained illegally.  With that money they now could afford the great fields and players that were needed to make them a world class power in soccer.  One of the drug Cartel leaders was Pablo Escobar.  He was so powerful and rich that Forbes Magazine had him as one of the richest men on earth.

A house is only as good as it’s foundation and when you have a foundation built on drug money, only pain and violence will follow.  That’s what happened to Colombian soccer.  Colombia was a mess in general with more murders being committed per capita there, than anywhere else in the world.  Public officials and politicians were bought off, and like many players said, you couldn’t trust anyone.

Pablo Escobar ran for office to avoid extradition to the U.S. for his drug running; and he won!  He and the other cartel leaders used Soccer to launder the money by lying about players salaries and bonuses and also about gate receipts and ticket sales.  Pablo Escobar did a lot for the poor, building housing and soccer fields and helping out the little guy. He also had public officials murdered and after one match where he didn’t like a referees call, he had the soccer referee gunned down in a parking lot after a game.  Much like Al Capone did in Chicago, it created a love for him like a modern Robin Hood to cover up for the violence and pain that he created.  Eventually though Escobar was killed and even a few of his family members were slaughtered; in front of their wives and kids in some cases; right before the World Cup would start.  After he was killed Colombia was in a violent chaos.  No more order in the underworld.

The stress on the Colombian players was now overwhelming.  Andres Escobars’ great friend and teammate Chonto Herrera was told the day before their World Cup match that his brother was murdered.  They began to worry about their own families safety.  Some players began saying they now had to win or wonder what would happen back home.  Andres shy smile was now gone.  In an interview he said he finds peace by trying to read at least a little bit from the Bible every day.  He found comfort in having a picture of his late mother and his fiance Pamela Cascardo in his Bible.

Andres was unlike any 26 year old you’d ever know.  While many were party animals, his faith was a foundation in his life.  He also loved his country and the poor.  His family talked about him going to stores and buying toys and driving through the city giving them away in poor neighborhoods.  Even before he signed a big contract, he set up scholarships for poor and needy kids.  His father was a banker and he set up foundations to help the needy.  His whole family had hearts of gold and his heart was no different.  He was handsome, kind, humble and felt for those in need.  Everyone loved him.

In the first game of the World Cup the joy was out of the faces of the players of Colombia.  In a stunning match, Romania beat Colombia 3-1.  The World was shocked.  Their next game was against the U.S. who they had never lost to and who had never been a world power in soccer.  Unfortunately the violence at home was getting worse and so was the stress of playing.  Also there were rumors that the Colombian cartels had lost millions in bets that were placed for Colombia to beat Romania and many were not happy.  There were rumors abound and you could see the fear and the pain in the players faces.

Against the Americans the impossible happened.  On a simple cross by John Harkes of the U.S., Andres tried to stop the ball and he accidentally kicked it into his own goal.  It was a dreaded moment that I will never forget.  I told my friends right then and there, they are going to kill him.  My friend said it’s just a soccer game and I was dumb to think that.  Even when I was a kid I loved history and cultures and I just knew growing up what some cultures could and would do.  A chill goes up my spine right now even writing this.  I still feel the pain of that moment.  I see Andres face on the field knowing what he had done and the possible ramifications.  One of his teammates commented that you could see the fear and the pain in Andres eyes after that moment.  In irony, Andres sister said that the second Andres did the mistake, her 8 year old son became upset and said that they are going to kill Andres.  She said that people loved Andres and that he would be safe.  Young people know more than what adults think.

Andres own goal made it U.S. 1 Colombia 0.  Another goal followed and after a late goal by Colombia the U.S. had stunned the world and beaten them 2-1.  Colombia beat the Swiss 2-0 in their third game but with Romania beating the U.S., it meant Colombia would go home.

There are conflicting reports but there was supposed to be a trip with Andres and his family where they would visit parts of the U.S. Andres didn’t go and he came home.  Friends and teammates say that he was crushed by his mistake but he answered all of the media’s questions.  In time the people of Medellin; his home city; were very supportive and caring.  He began to feel better.

On one night Andres was asked to go to a club.  Many of his teammates begged him not to go but he said he didn’t want to hide and that he would be alright.  In a club in Medillin, the Gallon brothers; notorious Colombian cartel members; began to mock Andres relentlessly. This upset Andres greatly saying he just made a mistake and he was sorry for it.  After a heated argument Andres left the club.  In a chilling video in the parking lot, Andres was gunned down by cartel bodyguard Humberto Castro Munoz with a .38 caliber gun.  His friends saw the shooting and rushed Andres to the hospital where he died 45 minutes later.  Andres girlfriend said that the murderer was laughing and yelling goooooooooaaaaaal when he shot Andres.  The World Cup was still going on and the soccer world was angered and outraged.  Colombia was in turmoil.

Andres death was too much for the country to take.  The grief now was unconsolable.  One famous Colombian writer said, “for the first time in my life, I’m ashamed to be Colombian”.  The country gave bodyguards to players with some having up to 40-50 of them to protect them and their families.  One players child was kidnapped.  The entire country was in pain and hope was hard to find.

The soccer team would never be the same.  Many retired or just played abroad.  Most vowing that they would never play for Colombia ever again for what happened to them and Andres.  It was rumored that after days in jail, the Gallon brothers paid off the courts with 3 million dollars in cash and were set free.  Murderer Humberto Munoz was the fall person and he did only 11 years of his 40 year sentence.  He was let out for being a model prisoner.  Andres Fiance and family were outraged.

Colombian soccer began to fall off the map.  For years it struggled.  Fans stopped coming; the pain was too great.  In 2010 at the owners meeting for the Colombian soccer federation, 14 of the 18 teams were now near bankruptcy.

Fast forward to the last 4 years where there has been a form of redemption.  The Colombian soccer team is now back at the World cup.  With a talented squad, they are now trying to prove again that their reputation for being a violent country based on drug money is wrong.  Their past haunts them.  I have some Colombian friends and they are a very kind and passionate people with great pride.  They long for people and other countries not to judge them and to get to know them.  They are also honest about their past and hopeful for their future.

A statue of Andres is now at a park named after him where soccer fields are.  Andres always dreamed of having soccer fields all over for every kid to enjoy.

Andres’ last written words were published in newspapers everywhere.  They were, “life doesn’t end here”.

Even with the loss of his physical life, Andres is still touching people today.  I hope through his memory, along with the soccer fields and parks made in his honor, that more people will support Colombia’s attempt at becoming the peaceful nation that Andres dreamed of.  I know that for millions of soccer fans in Colombia and all over the world, no one will ever forget the great Andres Escobar.

 

 

“In 3 Minutes the Two Most Famous Goals in World Cup History Shocked the Soccer World”

Image

While Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi rule the soccer world today, if you were to ask historians who the greatest soccer player of all time is, you would probably get two answers.  For many, the majestic and magical Pele’ may be their answer. To others though it would be the great Diego Maradona.  While in today’s soccer world athleticism and speed is a huge tool for players like Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, Pele’ and Maradona used their ball handling skills and imagination to delight the world of soccer. They were more than soccer greats, they were artists.

The 1986 World Cup quarterfinal in Mexico between Argentina and England had a deep rooted meaning of anger and bitterness. In 1982 the Falkland War between Argentina and the UK had begun.   It was a 3 month war that created extreme friction between the two countries. This game meant so much to both teams.

Maradona had electrified crowds with his vision, cunning, and amazing ball handling and playmaking skills.   Listed at 5′ 7″ tall, in reality he was only 5′ 5″ tall but he had a strong, stocky build with muscular legs. He led Argentina into the quarterfinals with dominating expertise on the pitch.

The talented England squad had a lot of expectations. They had their only World Cup win in 1966 when they were the host country. England and Argentina were both soccer crazy countries and if you add the Falkland War into the mix, this game meant much more than a World Cup semi final birth.

On June 22, 1986, Estadio Azteca in Mexico City was magical. The place was rocking with an amazing 105,000 people jammed into the stadium. Chants, songs, and every noise device known on earth were in full effect from the fans. On a warm, sunny day the electricity in the crowd along with all the beautiful colors would create a once in a lifetime experience.   Half Wizard of Oz, half religious experience, this game would be one for the ages.

The first half was a feeling out period for the most part. Both sides being wary of the scoring talents of the other. England’s star Gary Lineker was watched closely by Argentina. Lineker would later win the Golden Shoe award for the highest scorer in the World Cup.

In the second half Argentina came out more aggressive. In the 51st minute, Maradona went on one of his patented drives.   As he entered the goal box, he attempted a give and go move to his teammate. The English defender intercepted the pass but kicked the ball toward the English goalie. Maradona; who had kept going in the hopes of getting a return pass; jumped up in front of the goalie and hit the ball. GOAL!   But was it? The England team protested wildly saying that he had hit the ball with his hand. The referee said he did not see that and allowed the goal.

Later when he was interviewed and asked about the goal, the Argentine star said that the goal was scored, “A bit with the head of Maradona and another bit with the hand of God”. From then on in sports lore, this goal was known as the “Hand of God” goal.

Diego Maradona had just started. Three minutes later he took a simple pass on Argentina’s side of the field. Maradona then took off like a jet and dribbled through 5 English defenders and went the length of the field. English goal keeper Peter Shilton could do nothing as a rocket shot went past him. The Argentina crowd went crazy and the stadium was electrified. Famous Spanish Speaking announcer from Argentina, Victor Hugo Morales, was going nuts actually thanking God for seeing such a goal. Immediately people knew they had seen something special. In 2002 FIFA and the soccer world voted this goal as the goal of the century and the greatest goal ever scored.

Argentina was up 2-0 now but England was not going to go away quietly. At the 70th minute England substituted in John Barnes.   Immediately his energy and passing skills changed everything. Barnes began to pound the goal area with crosses. England looked like a different team and in the 81st minute a cross was put in the goal by Lineker. It wasn’t over yet. At the 87th minute with the crowd on their feet, another great Barnes cross was sent over the middle to an open Lineker but it was inches out of his reach. A few minutes later the crowd roared when the three whistles of the referee marked the end of the game. The game meant so much that many in Argentina felt this was partial revenge for the bitter military conflict between the two countries.

After the game the media and the soccer world was buzzing. People knew they had seen something special, and the charismatic Maradona fueled that fire on and off the field.

To this day Maradona is celebrated by most fans, especially in Argentina where he has icon status. For Americans to understand what a star Maradona is; especially during his heyday; think Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth; COMBINED. And that isn’t an overstatement.

Some fans though are also disappointed and embarrassed by his lifestyle and mistakes.   He was suspended for 15 months in the Italian league in 1991 when he tested positive for cocaine and he was also sent home from the 1994 World Cup in the U.S. for testing positive for stimulants. He owes millions in back taxes in Italy and has had more than a few run ins with the law, the press, and even soccer officials in his own country.

For all the turmoil Maradona has created in his life, the 1986 World Cup will always be his shining moment.  To this day just the sound of his name brings back great memories to Argentina and the soccer world. And in a 3 minute span, he created sports history that will be talked about forever.