For a period of time in September 1983, Andoni Goikoetxea was the most hated footballer on the planet. Well, maybe not everyone hated him but lovers of skilful, talented players certainly didnâ€™t care for him. Those who preferred the more brutal aspect of defensive play felt the means justified the end. He had just broken Diego Maradonaâ€™s ankle.
Those who compare Maradona and Messi often point to the physical nature of the tackling Diego had to contend with. You never see Messi have to put up with the sort of treatment dished out to Maradona, and for one good reason. The tackle from behind.
It would be years later when FIFA effectively banned the tackle from behind, and the incident involving Maradona and Goikoetxea has often been referred to as evidence for the prosecution.
Andoni Goikoetxea Olaskoaga was born in Alonsotegi, a municipality in the Basque country. He started his career in Athletic Bilbaoâ€™s B team before breaking through into the first team in 1975. During the 80â€™s he became a prominent member of the club coached by Javier Clemente. They won back-to-back La Liga titles in 1982-83 and 1983-84, with the latter bringing them the league and cup double.
1983 certainly was a notable year for the player as in February he made his international debut against the Netherlands. By the summer he had a league winners medal. In September he achieved worldwide fame.
Summer 1982 Diego Maradona came into the World Cup widely tipped to be the player of the tournament. Heâ€™d agreed a move to Barcelona just before it started, becoming the most expensive player in history. This made him a marked man, in every sense of the word.
He was the talk of the town in the build up to the tournament. Spain was full of excitement and expectation for the best player in the world who was going to compete in La Liga. Fate would deem Argentina, the defending champions, took the field for the opening match in the Camp Nou, Maradonaâ€™s future home.
For the defending champions things didnâ€™t really go to plan. Frustrated by the overly close attention he received from many opponents, he cut an irritated figure against Italy. Then it all blew up when the Brazilians kicked him mercilessly and he finally lost his cool. Kicking Batista resulted in him receiving his marching orders. The man who was about to move permanently to Spain, was given an early finish to get some sight-seeing done before meeting up with his new team-mates.
By the start of the 1982-83 season it was seven years since they last lifted the La Liga title. Maradonaâ€™s national manager, CÃ©sar Luis Menotti was installed as manager. The player held Menotti up as a father figure and it was hoped heâ€™d get the best out of his talisman.
They finished a disappointing fourth as Bilbao ended their 27-year wait for another league title. But Barca were able to win two cup trophies as they beat Real Madrid in both the Copa del Rey and the Copa de la Liga. In the latter, Maradona scored in both legs.
Goikoetxea was earning himself a fearsome reputation as a hard defender. This was reinforced during the 1981-82 season.
One of Barcelonaâ€™s star players, prior to Maradonaâ€™s arrival, was German midfielder Bernd Schuster. Heâ€™d won the Euros with West Germany in 1980, and a runners-up medal at World Cup 1982. In a match against Bilbao he was cruelly and cynically stopped in his tracks by â€˜Goikoâ€™.
He was dribbling through the Bilbao defence when the defender planted his studs on the most vulnerable part of Schusterâ€™s knee. It severed his cruciate ligament. Schuster missed nine months of football, which ultimately cost Barca the title. Worse for the player as he was never really the same afterwards.
Fast forward two years and the first great clash of the season between the league champions, Athletic and the cup holders, Barca at the Camp Nou.
120,000 packed into the stadium, demanding success for the home side. Barca were 3-0 up and Schuster had just committed a foul on Goiko. This riled the Basque and teammates have stated they heard him call out â€œIâ€™m going to kill himâ€.
As play continued, Maradona came deep to receive the ball. Goiko followed him into midfield. With his back to the Athletic defender, he turned making his way to goal. Goiko, furiously pursued him. Silence fell in the stadium as the big Basque lunged at the diminutive Argentine.
â€œI felt the blow, I heard the noise, like a wood breakingâ€, Maradona said.
Wood was a suitable metaphor as he was felled like a tree. As he lay on the grass his hands held his left ankle, crushed by Goikoâ€™s adidas boots. Everyone knows how reliant on his left foot Maradona was. Goiko could not have been more effective in nullifying Barcaâ€™s chief threat.
25 years later the Spaniard admitted;
â€œIt was a crazy incident. I could have avoided it, but it was preceded by a bad challenge from Schuster and I was hotter than normal. I took too much risk, but there was no intention on my part to injure Maradona.â€
Immediately the Barca players surrounded the referee, who seemed fairly relaxed about the whole thing. Eventually he showed a yellow card to Goiko.
â€œyes, possibly today it would be a direct redâ€. Goiko now admits.
Bilbao keeper Andoni Zubizarreta added his own testimony,
â€œTo understand what happened that night, and what followed, it is necessary to put things in context. The thing was building up, then exploded at that moment and got out of hand. Two years before Schuster was injured by Goiko. That added to the rivalry with Barcelona.â€
He went onto explain;
â€œReal Sociedad and Athletic had divided the three previous league titles between them. Political tensions were still running high and everything ended up getting mixed up.â€
Bilbao left-back, JosÃ© NÃºÃ±ez, explained the rivalry which existed between the two clubs back then,
â€œThose Barcelona-Athletic matches were not like today. There was a fierce rivalry. We were league champions and therefore a rival to beat. The game was very rough and the referee was allowing hard play.â€
Maradona suffered a fracture of the peroneal malleolus and tore internal lateral ligaments. He didnâ€™t kick a ball for four months.
He was 22 years old and Barca had invested Â£5m in him. Being so left-footed meant the rest of him was barely worth it.
It was the English press who labelled Goiko â€œthe Butcher of Bilbaoâ€.
Back then the Basque separatist movement, â€˜Etaâ€™, was very prominent in many terrorist activities throughout Europe. The English press made the link between their actions and the â€˜thuggeryâ€™ portrayed by Goiko.
Barcaâ€™s coach Menotti accused Goiko of â€œbelonging to a race of anti-footballersâ€ and called for a lifetime ban.
Goiko was banned by the Spanish FA for 18 matches, later reduced to seven.
Before the ban was announced Bilbao had a European Cup tie, just three days after the Barca game, at home to Lech Poznan. Bilbao were 0-2 down from the first leg in Poland. 10 minutes into the second leg and who should get their opening goal? Goikoetxea.
Carried on the shoulders of his teammates, Goiko was worshipped by the local fans too. They won 4-0 to progress to the Second Round, where they were knocked out by eventual winners, Liverpool.
Goiko wore the same boots for the Poznan game as he had for Barca, but never wore them again. He keeps them in a glass case in his apartment.
â€œI donâ€™t want to be misinterpreted. I donâ€™t keep them like one who keeps a momento from a game. These boots symbolize for me the cross and the face of football, itâ€™s duality. On the one hand, the harassment I suffered after Diegoâ€™s injury. On the other, how emotional the tribute in San MamÃ©s was.â€
Barcelona had won the game 4-0. It shouldâ€™ve been comfort for the injury to their talisman, but Maradonaâ€™s absence from the team undoubtedly affected the rest of their season as Athletic retained their title.
A week after securing the title, Bilbao met Barcelona again in the Copa Del Rey Final.
The game would go down in history as just as notorious as their league meeting, but for different reasons. This was a bitter affair at the Bernabeu. Bilbao won thanks to a goal from Endica after 11 minutes and some fairly rough-house tactics. They particularly focused on Maradonaâ€™s mended ankle.
But it is best remembered for the mass brawl at the end of the game. Maradona was in the thick of things as he went nuclear, aiming kicks, elbows and the odd punch at anyone in a red and white striped shirt. Barca defender, Migueliâ€™s flying kick on an opponent gained much notoriety.
All this took place in front of King Juan Carlos and several players, including Maradona were banned for three months. Within two months Diego was off to Italy.
At that time Barcelona were not the force in Spanish football they became from the nineties onwards. When Terry Venables finally delivered the La Liga title in 1984-85 it was their first for 11 years and only their second since the end of the fifties.
That Final was the last time Maradona and Goiko would ever meet again on the football field.
Goikoetxea went onto represent Spain at Euro â€™84 and Mexico â€™86. In all he earned 39 caps but the memory of his assault on Maradona has never left him.
After 13 years at San MamÃ©s, he moved to AtlÃ©tico Madrid in 1987 where he wasnâ€™t selected as often. After retirement he moved into coaching. He had roles with the national team at youth level before taking charge of several different clubs in Spain. He had two spells at both Salamanca and Numancia. His last coaching role was with Equatorial Guinea until 2015.
Despite all this, he is most remembered for that Maradona tackle and still carries round the â€˜butcherâ€™ moniker.