Top 10 dodgiest handballs in football history

Planet Sport take a look at some of history’s most notorious handball decisions in football.

The handball rule has always been one for controversy, and particularly those on our list below.

These days we're not quite sure what is or what isn't a handball as the rules change but get no clearer, but the one thing you can say about these is that they are all most certainly handball.

Some of the biggest storylines in the biggest games from the biggest tournaments often emerge from controversy, especially when you're talking about handball.

Diego Maradona - Argentina v England, World Cup 1986

Probably the most infamous handball in the history of the game - it has to be at the top of our list. In the Mexico 1986 World Cup quarter-final, Diego Maradona's Argentina took on England for a place in the last four.

With the game tied at 0-0 after the first half, a blessing from above would be needed to break down the England defence despite Argentina's dominance going forward.

And after 51 minutes on the clock, Maradona would create a "miracle" of his own and punch the ball past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton to open the scoring - The Hand of God.

The Argentine jumped with Shilton and beat the keeper to the punch, literally, as he handled the ball into the net, crudely disguised as a header. It was enough to fool the referee though and hand the Three Lions a knockout blow.

Maradona also showed his genius with his other goal of the game - 'The Goal of the Century' seeing him danger through almost the entire England team, but for England fans that game will only ever be known for his defining handball.

Thierry Henry - France v Republic of Ireland, 2010 World Cup qualification second round

'Le Hand of God' is up next. Thierry Henry's handball contribution would make him public enemy number one in the Republic of Ireland.

After both sides failed to automatically qualify for the 2010 World Cup through their groups, they needed to go through the play-offs to make it to South Africa. 

The tie went to extra time in the second leg and with 103 minutes on the clock Irish dreams would be shattered by the left hand of forward Henry.

A looping ball sent into the Irish box by Florent Malouda would float into the reach of Henry, controlling the ball with his hand on two occasions, before squaring it to William Gallas who headed it home, securing his side a place in the finals.

After serious debate with the officials the goal was given with the incident being compared to the 'Hand of God'. It was later revealed by Henry himself that he did handball it - like we didn't know!

Luis Suarez - Uruguay v Ghana, 2010 South Africa World Cup quarter-finals

Luis Suarez broke Ghanaian hearts in 2010 with an unforgivable handball that would evidentially knock Ghana out of the World Cup.

In the South Africa 2010 World Cup, Ghana would exceed all expectations and reach the quarter-finals after defeating the USA in the last 16.

The African side faced Uruguay in the following round and lead the game 1-0 after Sulley Muntari opened the scoring in the 45th minute.

However, this would later be counteracted by Uruguay skipper Diego Forlan - his left-sided freekick levelled the game for the South Americans.

In the final minutes of extra time a Ghanaian headed effort was cleared off the line by the hand of Suarez, denying them a place in the semis.

Suarez was sent to the locker room after he was shown a red card and Ghana were awarded a penalty. However, Asamoah Gyan's penalty kick collided with the crossbar which would later seal Ghana's fate as they were knocked-out on penalties.

Steven Taylor - Newcastle United v Aston Villa, 2nd April 2005

In a match that had Newcastle players throwing fists at one another, Steven Taylor was also a part of the disastrous 3-0 home defeat to Aston Villa.

Before Newcastle players Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer were sent off for their infamous second half scrap, defender Taylor would become stand-in goalkeeper for the wandering Shay Given.

Aston Villa's Darius Vassell intercepted Nicky Butt and found himself running through on goal. And after rounding goalkeeper Given, he had one man to get past - Steven Taylor.

Taylor pulled off a magnificent save with his left hand that Gordon Banks would be proud of, but then rolled around trying to pretend it hit his chest or face.

Referee Barry Knight was not fooled, as he sent Taylor off and gave a penalty that Gareth Barry would score.

Lionel Messi - Barcelona v Espanyol, 9th June 2007

Lionel Messi has been compared to Diego Maradona all his career, so naturally he was involved in a handball controversy.

In a La Liga fixture against Espanyol in 2007, Messi would replicate Maradona's 'Hand of God' as he would equalise for the Catalan side.

After a deflected cross found the path of Messi, just like Maradona, the Argentine placed his hand beside his head, lunged forward to head it, before palming the ball past Espanyol keeper Carlos Kameni.

Espanyol players would appeal but the goal would stand - sound familiar? The fixture would end 2-2 with the away side having the last laugh however, equalising in the 89th minute.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - Chelsea v Arsenal, 22nd March 2014

One of the most magnificent and unbelievable outcomes to a handball. In Arsenal's fixture against Chelsea in 2014, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's goal saving handball did not send him marching, but Kieran Gibbs.

After going 2-0 down in seven minutes at Stanford Bridge, Eden Hazard attempted to make it three. However, as Wojciech Szczesny watched it drift past his fingertips, Oxlade-Chamberlain did his job for the Polish international and used his hand to tip it round the post.

The Englishman expected to see red, but as Andre Marriner pulled out his book, he turned to defender Gibbs and sent him packing instead.

Despite both Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gibbs pleading their case, one of the most extraordinary examples of mistaken identity was recorded.

Bernd Leno - Wolverhampton Wanderers v Arsenal, 2nd February 2021

Another Arsenal handball controversy that finds its place on our list. This time it is from one of their goalkeepers.

It is rarely heard of keepers handling the ball outside of their penalty area, however on this occasion Bernd Leno decided to join in on Arsenal's collapse as the Gunners imploded against Wolves.

The German international rushed out to clear a bouncing ball in the Arsenal half, and rather than kicking, kneeing, or heading the ball, with his natural goalkeeping instincts, he punched the ball out for a throw-in whilst out of his area.

He gave no choice for referee Craig Dawson but to send him off. Wolves completed the double against Arsenal for the first time since 1978/79, as a Joao Moutinho rocket left substitute keeper Alex Runarsson with no chance.

Paolo Di Canio - Everton v West Ham United, 16th December 2000

From pushing referee's over after receiving red cards to accepting the Fair Play Award. This Paolo Di Canio handball is the only handball on this list worthy of applause.

During West Ham United's away fixture against Everton, Di Canio's act of sportsmanship would revive his reputation.

At 1-1, Toffee's goalkeeper Paul Gerrard fell to the Goodison Park turf outside of his area, giving West Ham a serious opportunity to win the game.

A pitch perfect cross was bound for Di Canio, but instead of firing an effort towards goal, he grasped the ball out of the air and asked for play to be stopped in order for Gerrard to get treatment.

The injured keeper was stretchered off, and as the points were shared, Di Canio claimed the headlines once more, this time for the right reasons.

In the reverse fixture in March 2001, the Italian was awarded with the FIFA Fair Play Awarded by Gerrard for his actions.

Sam Vokes - Swansea City v Burnley, 4th March 2017

Possibly one of the most ridiculous and unbelievable refereeing decisions when it comes to handballs inside the penalty area. Referee Anthony Taylor will certainly go down in the history books for this one.

As Swansea City looked to go into the break ahead during their Premier League fixture against Burnley, a handball from the Clarets' Sam Vokes inside the Swansea penalty area would somehow earn his side a penalty.

After leaning in to head a corner into the back of the net, the ball collided with striker Vokes' hand instead. With both sides appealing for handball, and with his vision blocked, Taylor pointed to the penalty spot.

Andre Gray stepped up and blasted home the eqauliser in-front of a sea of Swansea supporters as the English side deceived their way level.

Trent Alexander-Arnold - Liverpool v Manchester City, 10 November 2019

A crucial moment in a crucial title deciding fixture. Trent Alexander-Arnold's controversial not-given handball handed Liverpool a nine point gap at the top in front of rivals Manchester City.

This highly anticipated game would be once again dictated by the powers of VAR as the Reds were given a step up early on at Anfield.

In the opening six minutes, Man City drove forward during a dangerous and promising attack. A Bernardo Silva cross would be seen to collide with the arm of Alexander-Arnold in the clear view of Michael Oliver, with the possibility of a penalty for the away side.

However, Oliver instructed for the game to continue, and as Liverpool reclaimed the ball, midfielder Fabinho let loose a long-range effort towards goal, which nestled in the back of the net.

With VAR in operation, the ball was clearly seen to collide with Alexander-Arnold's arm and prevent a goal scoring opportunity. However, Oliver stuck to his guns and pointed to the centre circle and decided on goal.

Liverpool would go onto win 3-1 against their title challengers and would go on to lift the trophy in July.

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