50 Greatest Players in World Cup History: #21 Mario Kempes

When Argentina coach César Luis Menotti named his squad for the 1978 FIFA World Cup, there was shock and outrage when a 17-year-old rising star from Argentinos Juniors was not picked. His name? Diego Maradona.

Menotti did not want the hopes and dreams of an entire host nation to rest on the youngster's shoulders. Instead, he picked two other strikers; River Plate's Leopoldo Luque and the only player who played his club football outside the country - Mario Kempes from Valencia.

Popularly known as El Matador, little did they know that Kempes would eventually be the tournament's biggest star. Wearing the no.10, he was hard to miss - what with his flowing locks that were quite the rage in the '70s and his graceful movement on the pitch.

Kempes had been in the Argentina squad in 1974 but never managed to score. The 1978 tournament saw him go scoreless again in the first group stage as Argentina advanced and people started to question Menotti's decision to leave Maradona out of the squad.

Nevertheless, it was the second round of matches where Kempes came into his own. The first game against Poland not only saw him score twice but also make a goal-line save.

Yes, before the Hand of God, there was the Hand of Kempes.

After having given Argentina the lead over a highly-fancied Poland with a well-placed near-post header, Kempes made himself useful at the other end when he deliberately punched the ball away from Grzegorz Lato's header that was destined for the back of the net.

Back then, this was not a red card offence (like Luis Suarez vs Ghana in 2010) and Kempes didn't even receive a warning as the Polish side were awarded a penalty - which was saved. Poland will have felt cheated as Kempes would go on to double the lead in the second half to give the Albiceleste the win.