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Head's goal is Hand of God film

A comedy script by a headteacher about Diego Maradona's infamous "Hand of God" goal is on its way to becoming a Hollywood film.

John Brennan, head of Coxhoe primary near Durham, was asked to write the screenplay after mentioning the idea to a parent who runs a film production company.

His script tells the story of three friends from the north-east of England who are so incensed by Maradona's disputed goal at the 1986 World Cup that they decide to fly to Argentina to cut his hand off.

The legendary footballer is expected to be played by a double. But the producers say the real Maradona has expressed interest in making a cameo appearance, possibly as an angry bar owner.

Mr Brennan's only previous scripts had been for school pantomimes.

One of the film's producers is Russell Gow, co-founder of Streamline films and a former casting director whose children attended Coxhoe primary.

Mr Gow was talking to Mr Brennan after school about a thriller he was developing, when the headteacher mentioned his comedy idea.

The film producer said that a rough script that the headteacher then wrote in three days had him in fits of giggles.

"I knew he had comedy talent from seeing the school plays," Mr Gow said.

"But there was something funny on every page and I couldn't stop laughing.

He has an amazingly dry humour."

The headteacher included scenes based on friends' experiences, including one who was sacked from Asda after he forgot his microphone was switched on and began insulting customers.

Streamline films, one of whose founders is based in Los Angeles, says it is now in discussions with a Hollywood production company who are keen to make it a joint US-UK movie.

Mr Gow said that the headteacher would need to make more re-writes, and that the film was not yet officially in pre-production. But he said he was confident that it would overcome the curse that has affected previous football-related films - nearly all of which have been box office disasters - and that it would be "the next Full Monty".

Mr Brennan said the inspiration for the film came from watching another World Cup match involving Maradona in 1994 with his son Andrew.

The headteacher told The Northern Echo: "There was a shot of him right up to the camera, screaming and yelling. I probably said something about knowing what I'd like to do with the camera and Andrew said someone should chop his hands off."

Mr Brennan said that he had needed to change the script's original climax, in which Maradona did lose his hand. "Hollywood likes a happy ending," he said.

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