During the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup, England soccer player Steve Hodge played a ball to his goalkeeper which was intercepted by Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona, allowing Maradona to score one of the most infamous goals against Hodge’s team.
It became one of the most talked-about goals in professional football: in a fast-paced sequence, Maradona got away with touching the ball with his left hand and he later invoked ‘the hand of God’ to explain what had happened.
In the stadium tunnel, after Argentina won 2-1, Hodge asked Maradona to swap shirts.
Now the winner of the exchange seems controversial. Maradona reached the final and won, but Hodge was given a shirt which he, dried sweat and all, just sold for nearly $9.3 million at an auction hosted by Sotheby’s – possibly the highest price ever paid for a sports shirt. souvenir has been paid.
Sotheby’s announced the sale on Wednesday on Twitter. The buyer was not named. In a press release, Sotheby’s quoted Hodge as calling it a “pleasure” to have displayed the shirt at the National Football Museum in Manchester, England for the past 20 years.
He added: “The Hand of God shirt has a deep cultural meaning for the football world, the people of Argentina and the people of England and I’m sure the new owner will be very proud of it, the most iconic football shirt in the world to own. ”
Leila Dunbar, a pop culture merchandise appraiser, said the sale is symbolic of the recent surge in the value of sports memorabilia. “As of 2020,” she said, “this recent rise is like nothing I’ve seen in more than three decades in the business.”
Widely regarded, along with Pelé, as one of the greatest footballers of all time, Maradona was known for his scuffling spirit and sudden bursts of virtuosity. Both qualities were embodied in his game in the second half of the quarter-final game against England, which took place in Mexico City.
After breaking the left, Maradona immediately started celebrating before the England players had a chance to blast at the referees.
Four minutes later, Maradona scored the goal that football fans voted FIFA World Cup goal of the century. Starting in his own half of the field, he briefly dribbled backwards, sprinting one moment and slowing to a prance the next. He went 70 yards, skirting five England players, then flew past the team’s goalkeeper and – a nanosecond before falling over – scored the winning goal.
The Falklands War, which ended in a British defeat by Argentina, gave the struggle a greater symbolic dimension.
“It was revenge,” Maradona wrote in his autobiography I Am Diego (2000). “It was something bigger than us: we defended our flag.”
The authenticity of the shirt was questioned a few weeks earlier when Maradona’s eldest daughter, Dalma Maradona, told Agence France-Presse her father gave Hodge the shirt he wore during the relatively uneventful first half of the game.
A spokeswoman for Sotheby’s told AFP that the auction house took “extensive diligence and scientific research” to confirm the shirt’s use during highlights of the game. Written reports from Maradona and Hodge confirm a post-game shirt swap. (In an email, a Sotheby’s spokesman assured that the jersey had not been washed since.)
Rich Mueller, the founder and editor of Sports Collectors Daily, a website dedicated to the sports memorabilia industry, said the sale was the highest price he’s ever heard of as someone selling memorabilia at an auction or a paid for private sale.
Recent record-breaking sporting goods sold at auction included a Babe Ruth jersey that sold for $5.6 million in June 2019 and a document outlining the founding principles of the modern Olympic Games that was published in It was sold in December 2019 for $8.8 million.
To illustrate how sports memorabilia prices have skyrocketed, Ms. Dunbar, the appraiser, pointed out that in 2017 a Jackie Robinson jersey from his 1947 rookie season sold for around $2 million, and last year a 1950 Robinson jersey sold for more than double that – around $4.2 million. Ms Dunbar estimated a Robinson jersey put up for sale could fetch $10-20 million now.
“People are realizing that these items can be appreciated like a work of art,” said Brahm Wachter, head of streetwear and modern collectibles at Sotheby’s. “I’ve wanted to sell the shirt for a long time, maybe the longest of any item I’ve actually had the privilege of selling.”