The shirt worn by Diego Maradona when he scored twice – including the “hand of God” goal – to knock England out of the 1986 World Cup has sold for a record-breaking £7.1m at auction.
The late Argentinian player described his opening goal in the quarter-final as “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God”. He and the England goalkeeper Peter Shilton leapt to reach the ball, which touched Maradona’s left hand and bounced into the net. The referee did not have a clear view and allowed the goal to stand.
Minutes later, Maradona dribbled past a host of England players to score again, a strike that was voted goal of the century in a 2002 poll of 340,000 fans in 150 countries. Argentina went on to win the tournament.
The shirt has been owned for the past 35 years by Steve Hodge, the England midfielder who unintentionally flicked the ball to Maradona for the handball goal. The two players swapped shirts at the end of the game.
It has spent the last 20 years on loan at the National Football Museum in Manchester, and went under the hammer at Sotheby’s on Wednesday afternoon, fetching £7,142,500, a new auction record for an item of sports memorabilia. The buyer was not identified.
Sotheby’s described the blue No 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”.
Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectibles, 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.”
Hodge said the shirt had “deep cultural meaning to the football world, the people of Argentina and the people of England.” He added: “It was an absolute privilege to have played against one of the greatest and most magnificent football players of all time.”
The game came four years after the UK had defeated Argentina in the Falklands war and took on great significance for both countries as a result. In his autobiography, Maradona – who died in November 2020 at the age of 60 – said: “It was like beating a country, not a football team.”
Sotheby’s had estimated that the shirt would sell for at least £4m. The previous auction record for sports memorabilia was set by an original autographed manuscript of the Olympic manifesto from 1892, sold at Sotheby’s for $8.8m (£7.05m at today’s exchange rate) in 2019.
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