Diego Maradona’s infamous ‘Hand of God’ shirt sold for a record £7.1million today, making it the most expensive item of sports memorabilia to ever come to auction.
The little player’s shirt, worn when he scored two memorable goals to knock England out of the 1986 World Cup, including the so-called ‘Hand of God’ goal, was sold to an anonymous bidder at Sotheby’s this afternoon.
Do you know the mystery shopper?
The late footballing icon swapped shirts with England midfielder Steve Hodge after full time and he has been in possession of the prized item for 35 years.
The shirt, which has spent the past 20 years on loan to the National Football Museum in Manchester, went up for auction at Sotheby’s on Wednesday afternoon for £7,142,500 – marking a new auction record for any sports memorabilia item.
The previous record for all sports memorabilia was the original autograph manuscript of the 1892 Olympic Manifesto, sold at Sotheby’s for $8.8 million in December 2019.
The previous record for a jersey worn per game was held by Babe Ruth’s Yankees Road jersey, which sold for $5.64 million in 2019.
The auction house described the famous blue number 10 jersey on its website as being in “good overall condition consistent with heavy use, sweating and sporting activity” with “a slight hem peeling on the front bottom of shirt and minor stains throughout”.
Today, an Argentinian delegation, consisting of Maradona’s family, a private memorabilia company and the country’s football association, is said to have arrived in London with the aim of buying the shirt themselves. It is not yet known who won the precious sports memorabilia.
The iconic garment is valued between £4m and £6m and the reserve has already been reached
Maradona scored his infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the 1986 World Cup
A member told The Sun: ‘He’s selling something that belongs to Maradona and the AFA without permission.’
“It should be in Argentina for all Argentines to enjoy, not for some millionaire to display in his closet.”
Maradona’s status as a superstar was cemented in that quarter-final in 1986.
Argentina won the match 2-1, with their little talisman tricking the referee into using their hand to score what appeared to be a header for the official.
Hodge was involved in the incident, sending the ball back to the goalkeeper before Maradona used his trickery to jump up and reach the ball with his hand.
Afterwards, the player said he was marked ‘a bit with the head of Maradona, and a bit with the hand of God’.
His other strike in the match was voted ‘Goal of the Century’ in a FIFA poll and saw him dribble almost the entire England team before slotting the ball past Peter Shilton.
It was the most famous match in the career of a football genius, who was 25 at the time and went on to help his team win the tournament in Mexico.
Brahm Wachter, Head of Streetwear and Modern Collectibles at Sotheby’s, said: “This historic shirt is a tangible reminder of an important moment not just in sports history, but in 20th century history.
“In the weeks since the announcement of the auction, we have been inundated with sports fans and collectors, with palpable excitement in the air for the duration of the public display – and that enthusiasm unfiltered trickled down to the auctions.
“This is arguably the most coveted football shirt ever to come to auction, so it’s only fitting that it now holds the auction record for any such item.”
Mr Wachter said the two goals “balance each other brilliantly” and reveal two sides of Maradona’s character.
The first “was really tricky and involved an element of luck,” he said. “But then he scored a second goal, which was one of the most incredible – almost angelic – goals of all time.”
Argentina won the match 2-1 and won the World Cup. Maradona, considered by many to be the greatest player of all time, struggled with cocaine abuse and other excesses and died in November 2020 at age 60.
After the match, Maradona swapped his shirt with England midfielder Steve Hodge, who never sold it until now.
For the past 20 years he has been on loan to England’s National Football Museum in Manchester.
Steve Hodge said it was a ‘pleasure’ to have Maradona’s historic 1986 World Cup match shirt
The auction is live and bidders have two weeks to place their bids for the shirt
Argentina won the World Cup after beating West Germany in the final at the Azteca Stadium
Hodge previously revealed how he went about acquiring the shirt. He said: “I was walking through the tunnel and Maradona was coming from the opposite direction. I just tugged on my shirt and we traded on the spot.
Hodge has now revealed why he is selling the iconic shirt. He said: “I have been the proud owner of this item for over 35 years, ever since Diego and I swapped shirts in the tunnel after the famous game.
“It was an absolute privilege to have played against one of the greatest and most magnificent football players of all time.
“It has also been a pleasure to share it with the public over the past 20 years at the National Football Museum, where it has been displayed.
“The Hand of God shirt has deep cultural significance for the world of football, the people of Argentina and the people of England and I’m sure the new owner will be extremely proud to own the most iconic football shirt in the world.”