Meet Andoni Goikoetxea – the “butcher of Bilbao” who broke Diego Maradona’s ankle
To get a nickname like “Butcher of Bilbao” you have to be a really tough b ******.
Although it is true that playing for Atletico Bilbao helps too.
Tough, raw and brutal, Andoni Goikoetxea was not a man you wanted to play with – as Diego Maradona discovered one day.
Also nicknamed ‘Goiko’, he has legendary status in Bilbao where he won two La Liga titles, a Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup.
Goikoetxea has made over 350 appearances for the Basque club, but his, say, uncompromising nature is mostly remembered.
Although his disciplinary record is horrendous, the former center-back has gained particular notoriety for his X-rated challenges.
Talented young German Bernd Schuster, who would later go on to lead Real Madrid, felt the full force of Goikoetxea’s brutality during a game between Bilbao and Barcelona in 1981.
The 21-year-old had started on a midterm run in the opposing half of the field when he was mown down by a tackle from the Spaniard as late as it was premeditated.
Schuster suffered an ACL tear that kept him out of a season that saw Barcelona win La Liga.
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But that was nothing compared to what Goikoetxea had in store for El Diego.
Two years later, on September 24, 1984, Bilbao visited Camp Nou for a league match against the Catalan giants.
There would be nothing trivial about what happened to Maradona in the middle of the game.
Receiving a back-to-goal pass, the Argentinian superstar was followed by Golikoetxea who dived and struck the striker.
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Maradona is said to be on a stretcher, with a broken ankle and tattered ligaments, and unable to return to the football field for a year.
Barcelona coach and Argentinian Maradona compatriot Cesar Luis Menotti described Goikoetxea after the game as belonging to a “race of anti-footballers”.
Menotti also requested a life suspension for the ‘Bilbao butcher’ who was eventually suspended for 18 matches instead, a penalty which was later reduced to seven on appeal.
In his book Maradona; The Hand of God, author Jimmy Burns called it “one of the most brutal mistakes in the history of Spanish football”.
Maradona himself, meanwhile, likened the challenge to an “ax blow”.
“I just felt the impact, I heard the sound – like a piece of wood cracking – and immediately realized what had happened,” he said.
According to some reports, Goikoetxea was so proud of the infamous tackle that he still has the boots he wore that day.
It was once claimed that he kept them in a glass cabinet in his living room.
Despite this notorious incident 30 years ago, Goikoetxea was as sad as anyone else when El Diego died of a heart attack last November.
“I have just heard of Maradona’s death,” wrote Goikoetxea at the time. “It makes me very sad. He was a genius who was born to play football. Rest in peace, Diego.”