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Rattin recalls moment that sparked England-Argentina soccer rivalry

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Diego Maradona’s Hand of God goal in 1986 is the stand-out incident in soccer clashes between Argentina and England but the one that sparked an intense rivalry was Antonio Rattin’s sending-off at Wembley 20 years earlier.

Rattin, the Argentina captain, was infamously dismissed by German referee Rudolf Kreitlein after half an hour of an ill-tempered 1966 World Cup quarter-final for protesting.

“I saw that all his decisions favoured England... corners, fouls, he even invented handballs,” said the 79-year-old, recalling the incident on its 50th anniversary on Saturday.

“In view of that, I showed his my captain’s armband and for several minutes asked for an interpreter to ask for explanations,” Rattin told the Argentine daily La Nacion (

“I couldn’t believe it (when he sent me off),” Rattin added.

“The dismissal was so unfair that in anger I sat on the red carpet of the Queen’s royal box. She wasn’t in the stadium.”

Rattin eventually took the long walk round the touchline to the tunnel behind one of the goals and recalled he ate bits of chocolate bars thrown at him by fans before throwing them back, wringing a British corner flag with his hand in anger and dodging beer cans.

He watched the rest of the match which England won 1-0 on the way to the title through a small window in the changing rooms “with (a feeling of) total impotence”.

England manager Alf Ramsey infamously called the Argentine players animals but Rattin, sent off that one time in his career, said: “I’d like to be taken back there.

“I’d get off the plane, go and see the new Wembley, chat again with Bobby Charlton, go and see the Queen, who is still alive, and come back home.”

The incident led to the introduction of red and yellow cards and started a fierce, sometimes violent, rivalry between two of the world’s leading football nations.

The teams avoided each other at the next four World Cups, with one or the other failing to qualify and the luck of the draw in 1982 when the countries were at war over the Falkland (Malvinas) islands.

Maradona punched in the opening goal with his fist to help Argentina beat England 2-1 in the 1986 Mexico City quarter-finals on the way to their second title.

Writing by Rex Gowar, editing by Ed Osmond