Mexico hosted the 13th World Cup finals less than a year after being hit by a massive earthquake that left 30,000 dead.
As in 1970, the players had to endure searing heat and thin air -- and midday kick-offs, thanks to television schedules.
The match of the tournament took place in the quarter-finals, when Zico's Brazil faced Michel Platini-inspired France, who had already knocked out holders Italy, in Guadalajara. A flowing match finished 1-1 before France won the penalty shootout 4-3.
Diego Maradona established himself as the star of the tournament. The Argentine's infamous 'Hand of God' goal, when he punched the ball into the net, and a spectacular solo effort put paid to England in the last eight and he produced more magic to see off Belgium in the semi-finals.
West Germany beat France in the semi-finals, just as they had four years earlier, but in the final they were quickly 2-0 down to Argentina, Jose Luis Brown and Jorge Valdano scoring.
Somehow the Germans recovered. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Rudi Voller netted in the closing stages to force extra-time, only for Maradona, inevitably, to send Jorge Burruchaga through for the winner. Not since Pele in 1970 had one man so inspired a team to glory.
WORLD CUP LEGENDS
Argentina: b. 1960
The most gifted footballer since Pele, whose ability for creating headlines off the pitch is surpassed only by his astounding performances on it.
In 1982 he was sent off for a disgraceful kick on a Brazilian opponent as Argentina crashed out before the semi-finals.
But in Mexico in 1986 he was simply unstoppable as Argentina triumphed. An outrageous handball goal and a dazzling solo effort past six defenders put paid to England, and he produced another sensational zig-zag dribble in the semi-finals against Belgium.
When West Germany recovered from 2-0 down in the final, it was Maradona's first-time through pass which set up Argentina's winner.
Four years later he inspired an ordinary and highly negative Argentina side to the final, finishing it in tears as West Germany won with a penalty.
At USA 94 he was back, seemingly slim and sharp, despite a series of drugs problems, only to be sensationally kicked out of the tournament after testing positive for a cocktail of amphetamines.
Sensationally named coach of Argentina in November 2008.
England: b. 1960
Clinical goalscorer second only to Bobby Charlton in the all-time England goalscoring records with 48 from 80 caps. Missed chance to equal the record when he tamely chipped a penalty straight at the goalkeeper in a friendly against Brazil.
Fast off the mark and calm under pressure, he often passed the ball into the net rather than blasted it. The majority of his goals came from close-range.
Saved England in the 1986 finals when he scored a hat-trick against Poland. Further goals against Paraguay and Argentina saw him finish top socrer with six goals.
At Italia 90 he was coolness personified in scoring two penalties to see England past Cameroon and then equalising late on against West Germany in the semi-finals.
Never won a domestic league title at club level. International career ended when he was controversially substituted while captain by then coach Graham Taylor in a disastrous European Championship match in Sweden in 1992.
Likeable, known as Mr. Clean for his record of never having been booked in his professional career. Later became TV anchorman with BBC.
Germany: b. 1960
A real goal poacher who was inspirational in West Germany's surprisingly strong showing at the 1986 finals in Mexico.
Not particularly big, but strong on the ball and super-efficient at dispatching half chances, as he showed when scoring late in the final against Argentina to make it 2-2.
Managed 43 goals in 84 appearances for West Germany, helping them to victory in the 1990 World Cup in Italy with three goals in the opening stages.
He was then sent off against Holland together with Frank Rijkaard for fighting, with the Dutchman spitting full in Voller's face as they trudged off the pitch.
Returned in time for the final against Argentina, and craftily won the penalty that clinched the cup for the Germans.
Managed Germany successfully after retirement, leading the national team to the 2002 World Cup final where they were beaten by Brazil.
1986 WORLD CUP TOP SCORERS
Gary Lineker (ENG) 6
Diego Maradona (ARG) 5
Emilio Butragueno (SPA) 5
Careca (BRA) 5
1986 WORLD CUP TRIVIA
- Mexico became the first country to stage two Finals after the original hosts Colombia, financially bankrupt, withdrew their application.
- Denmark, Iraq and Canada were making their debuts in the finals.
- Eight venues were used for the 52-match programme. They were: Guadalajara, Puebla, Leon, Queretaro, Irapuato, Toluca, Monterrey and Mexico City.
- The opening game between the holders Italy and Bulgaria ended 1-1. Alessandro Altobelli, scorer of Italy's last goal in the 1982 final, became the first player to score in this tournament.
- Iraq were denied a goal in their first World Cup game, which they lost 1-0 to Paraguay, when the referee blew his whistle a split-second before Ahmed Rhadi's header crossed the line.
- Ray Wilkins became the first England player to be sent off in the World Cup when he was redcarded in a 0-0 draw with Morocco for throwing the ball at the referee.
- Mexico's 1-1 draw with Paraguay in the group stages featured 55 fouls. The referee was England's George Courtney.
- Uruguay's Jose Batista was sent off after just 55 seconds for hacking down Gordon Strachan in a 0-0 draw with Scotland.
- Gary Lineker saved England's bacon by scoring a hat-trick in a 3-0 defeat of Poland that saw them edge into the second round. They had earlier lost 1-0 to Portugal, whose players threatened to go on strike just before the match over bonus payments.
- On his 41st birthday Northern Ireland goalkeeper Pat Jennings gained his 119th international cap against Brazil, then a world record. After the game, won 3-0 by Brazil, Jennings announced his retirement.
- Argentina's Marcelo Trobbiani made his one and only World Cup appearance as an 88th-minute substitute in the final against West Germany, equalling the record for the shortest World Cup career set by Tunisia's Khemais Labidi in 1978.
1986 WORLD CUP WINNING SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Luis Islas, Neri Pumpido, Hector Miguel Zelada
Defenders: Jose Luis Brown, Nestor Clausen, Jose Luis Cuciuffo, Oscar Garre, Ricardo Giusti, Julio Jorge Olarticoechea, Daniel Passarella, Oscar Ruggieri
Midfielders: Sergio Almiron, Sergio Daniel Batista, Ricardo Bochini, Jorge Burruchaga, Hector Adolfo Henrique, Diego Maradona
Forwards: Claudio Borghi, Pedro Pablo Pasculli, Carlos Tapia, Marcelo Trobbiani, Jorge Valdano
Coach: Carlos Bilardo