Assigned to man-mark Diego Maradona in the Mexico 1986 Final – Lothar Matthaus did a sterling job in vain – he was thrown license to attack more from midfield four years later. And that he did, unbelievably becoming the first man in World Cup history to score with either foot from outside the box in the same match against Yugoslavia and thrusting West Germany to glory with some palatial performances.
Germany were tormented by Diego Maradona in the 1986 final. Germans had done a great job of keeping Argentina’s star man quiet for most of the game but then Maradona made his mark on the game to provide a classy assist to release Jorge Burruchaga through on goal, who scored to seal a memorable 3-2 victory.
“1986 wasn't just Argentina's World Cup, it was Diego Armando Maradona's. I think he was the best player of all during my two decades as a professional footballer, not only at international level but also for his club. I think Argentina deserved to win the World Cup based on their performances throughout the tournament and especially thanks to Diego Maradona's unique skills. We were happy enough with the runners-up spot. If someone had told us before the tournament we were going to come second, we wouldn't have believed them. We knew we didn't really have that great a team. We also had a lot of injuries,” Lothar remarked about Maradona at the 1986 final during an interview with FIFA.com.
Germany became champions in 1990 to become third-time world champions as they avenged their final defeat by Argentina four years earlier, overcoming the holders 1-0 in Rome. While Argentina were not the same side they were four years earlier, they still had Diego Maradona in the team. Argentina were missing the suspended Cannigga and in the final they became the first side to not score a goal and also have a player sent off.
Reflecting on that remarkable victory, Germany Lothar Matthaus said: “We knew Argentina were no longer the great team they had been four years earlier. They'd been a bit lucky along the way, with penalty shoot-outs and some poor results. Yes, our winning goal was the result of a somewhat dubious penalty. But the Good Lord opted for justice and let the best team win.”
While his admiration for Maradona remained, Lothar was understandably more confident of facing Argentina in 1990. He revealed that he was afraid of dropping the Trophy.
“It's a great honour to win the World Cup, not only for the team but also for the captain who's the first to be given the Trophy everyone wants to win. It was a unique sensation. I was afraid of doing something wrong, dropping the Trophy.”