Bogdan Dochev, the linesman who failed to spot Diego Maradona’s iconic ‘Hand of God’ goal against England, has passed away at the age of 80, the Bulgarian Football Union confirmed.
Dochev was capped by Bulgaria on two occasions before taking up refereeing, where he earned a reputation as one of his country’s finest whistle-blowers and took charge of the 1983 UEFA Cup final first leg between Benfica and Anderlecht.
But his failure to raise the flag against the Albiceleste icon haunted him throughout his retirement.
Dochev was running the touchline in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final when the Argentina captain lifted the ball over Peter Shilton with his hand.
Ignoring furious protests from the England team, the linesman declined to rule out the strike, with Maradona later netting his virtuoso ‘Goal of the Century’ on the way to a 2-1 victory.
In later years, both Dorchev and Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser became synonymous with the goal, although each man shifted the blame for the officiating blunder onto the other.
Match footage from 1986 shows Nasser looking at his colleague as Maradona celebrated his strike, while Dorchev’s flag stayed down throughout the passage of play.
And while the referee revelled in his infamy, meeting with Maradona during a trip to Tunisia in 2015, the Bulgarian eventually slammed the Argentine for his actions, claiming the controversial strike had left him devastated.
“Diego Maradona has ruined my life,” said the late linesman, who unlike Nasser declined the opportunity to meet with El Pibe de Oro in person.
“He is a brilliant footballer but a small man. [The goal] scarred me for life, I was accused when I was not guilty.”