London: It was the best moment – or worst – moment in football history and now sports fans with deep pockets can have a piece of it.
The shirt worn by Diego Maradona when he scored the controversial ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the 1986 World Cup is on sale for the first time.
Auctioneer Sotheby’s said on Wednesday that the jersey could fetch more than £4 million (US$5.2 million) in an online auction that begins on April 20.
Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectibles Brahm Wachter said the shirt “is on a short list of the most important sports memorabilia in the world.”
“I will never take over this good deed again,” Wachter said. “This moment is iconic in the history of the sport.”
Maradona scored two goals during the quarter-final game in Mexico City on 22 June 1986, just four years after Britain and Argentina fought over the Falkland Islands. The Argentine great’s first goal was a header, but the ball went past Maradona’s grasp, out of sight of the referee.
Maradona later said that it was made “a little by Maradona’s head, and a little by God’s hand”.
Maradona’s second goal saw the ball dribble in front of almost the entire English team before defeating goalkeeper Peter Shilton. In 2002, it was voted “goal of the century” in a FIFA poll.
Wachter said the two goals “balance each other brilliantly” and reveal two aspects of Maradona’s character. The first was “really clever and contained an element of luck,” he said. “But then he scored the second, which was one of the most incredible – almost angelic – goals of all time.”
Argentina won the match 2–1 and went on to win the World Cup. Maradona, considered by many to be the greatest player of all time, battled cocaine abuse and other excesses and died in November 2020 at the age of 60.
After the game Maradona swapped shirts with England midfielder Steve Hodge, who never sold it until now. It has been on loan for the last 20 years to the National Football Museum of England in Manchester.
The blue shirt, one time with light blue stripes, was hurriedly assembled as the Argentine team planned to wear the top, which was deemed too heavy for the Mexico City heat.
The Argentine Football Association’s patch was sewn on, and sparkly numbers were ironed on the back, including Maradona’s 10, shortly before the match.
Hodge said he was a “proud owner” of a shirt that has “deep cultural meaning for the football world, the people of Argentina and the people of England.”
According to Watcher, Hodge had decided “it is the right time” to sell. The prices of sports memorabilia have risen in recent years. The shirt may beat a record for a piece of sportswear, which is held by the Babe Ruth New York Yankees jersey, which sold for USD 5.64 million in 2019. A buyer paid US$8.8 million for the manifesto that started the modern Olympic movement, a record sporting item for one.
The shirt will be on display at Sotheby’s London showroom during the bidding period from April 20 to May 4.