Argentina will beg the buyers of Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ shirt to let them borrow it for the soccer legend’s birthday after it was bought for a record-breaking £7.1 million.
The head of a delegation from the late football star’s home nation said he will ask the winning bidders to let the famous top be exhibited in the south American country on October 30 when Maradona would have been 62.
Private collector Marcelo Ordas broke down in tears today after losing out on the chance to reclaim the shirt Diego wore when he scored the two goals which beat England in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, the game in which the maestro produced the infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal.
The late football icon swapped shirts with England midfielder Steve Hodge after full time and he has been in possession of the treasured item for the last 35 years.
The shirt, which has spent the last 20 years on loan at the National Football Museum in Manchester, went under the hammer at Sotheby’s on Wednesday afternoon for £7,142,500 – marking a new auction record for any item of sports memorabilia.
The buyer remained anonymous, but there are reports the shirt’s new owners are from the Middle East and are linked to Manchester City.
Mr Ordas, the owner of one of the largest football shirt collections in the world whose offer is thought to have been around £5.5 million, said after travelling to London with the support of Argentine Football Association president Claudio Tapia: ‘We would like to have a chat with the winning bidders, to try in every way possible to take the shirt to Argentina in October and exhibit it on Diego’s birthday.
‘We’re waiting here to try to organise a meeting.’
Respected Argentinian daily La Nacion reported today the new owners were from the Middle East, claiming: ‘It’s believed to have ended up in the hands of a group from Abu Dhabi, close to the people who pull the strings at Manchester City.’
The iconic garment is valued at between £4-6million and the reserve has been met already
Maradona scored his infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the 1986 World Cup
The previous record for any sports memorabilia was the original autograph manuscript of the Olympic Manifesto from 1892, which sold at Sotheby’s for $8.8 million in December 2019.
The previous record for a game worn shirt was held by Babe Ruth’s Yankees road Jersey, sold for $5.64 million in 2019.
The auction house described the famous blue number 10 jersey on its website as in ‘good overall condition consistent with heavy use, perspiration and athletic activity’ with ‘slight de-threading on hemming on the front bottom of shirt, and minor spots throughout’.
Today, an Argentinian delegation, consisting of Maradona’s family, a private memorabilia firm and the country’s football association, are understood to have arrived in London in a bid to buy the shirt themselves. It is not yet known who won the prized sports memorabilia.
One member told the Sun: ‘He is selling something that belongs to Maradona and the AFA without authorisation.
‘It should be in Argentina in order all Argentines can enjoy it, and not for a millionaire to display it in his closet.’
Maradona’s status as a superstar was cemented in that quarter-final in 1986.
Argentina won the game 2-1, with their diminutive talisman deceiving the referee by using his hand to score what appeared to the official to be a header.
Hodge was involved in the incident, passing the ball back to the goalkeeper before Maradona used his cunning to leap and reach the ball with his hand.
Afterwards the player famously said it was scored ‘a little with the head of Maradona, and a little with the hand of God’.
His other strike in the game was voted ‘Goal of the Century’ in a FIFA poll and saw him dribble around almost the entire England team before slotting the ball past Peter Shilton.
It was the most famous game in the career of a footballing genius, who was 25 at the time and went on to help his side win the tournament in Mexico.
Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s Head of Streetwear and Modern Collectables, said: ‘This historic shirt is a tangible reminder of an important moment not only in the history of sports, but in the history of the 20th century.
‘In the weeks since we announced the auction we have been inundated by sports fans and collectors alike, with a palpable excitement in the air for the duration of the public exhibition – and this unfiltered enthusiasm was echoed in the bidding.
‘This is arguably the most coveted football shirt to ever come to auction, and so it is fitting that it now holds the auction record for any object of its kind.’
Mr Wachter said the two goals ‘balance each other brilliantly’ and reveal two facets of Maradona’s character.
The first ‘was really cunning and did involve an element of luck,’ he said. ‘But then he scored a second goal, which was one of the most unbelievable – almost angelic – goals ever.’
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, struggled with cocaine abuse and other excesses and died in November 2020 at age 60.
After the game Maradona swapped shirts with England midfielder Steve Hodge, who never sold it, until now.
For the past 20 years, it has been on loan to England’s National Football Museum in Manchester.
Steve Hodge said it’s been a ‘pleasure’ to have Maradona’s historic 1986 World Cup match-shirt
The auction is live and bidders have two weeks to make their offers 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 down the tunnel and Maradona was coming in the opposite direction. I just tugged my shirt and we swapped there and then.’
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, since Diego and I swapped shirts in the tunnel after the famed match.
‘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 last 20 years at the National Football Museum, where it has been on display.
‘The Hand of God shirt has deep cultural meaning to the football world, the people of Argentina, and the people of England and I’m certain that the new owner will have immense pride in owning the world’s most iconic football shirt.’