Sotheby’s sold one of the most famous lots in football history on Wednesday: the jersey worn by Argentine great Diego Maradona in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final against Englandduring which the legendary number 10 scored two of the most indelible goals in football history: the “Hand of God” strike, when Maradona pushed the ball over Peter Shilton’s head with his hand, and “Goal of the century”, when he slalomed through the whole England team from the center line before heading home.
The shirt has a V-neck, with stripes in two different shades of blue and the number on the back in silver. The front features the distinctive logos of Argentine Football Association Le Coq Sportif, who at the time designed Argentina’s kits. The lot made history by becoming the most expensive item of sports memorabilia ever put under the hammer when it sold for 7.14 million pounds ($8.93 million). However, there is speculation that the shirt may not be the one Maradona wore when he scored both goals in Argentina’s 2-1 win, but the one he used in the first half, which ended 0-0.
Maradona’s family say Sotheby’s lot is not a Hand of God shirt
When we found out the shirt was going to go on sale, Maradona’s daughter, Dalma Maradona, and her mother, Claudia Villafañe, said the item was not what the Argentine great wore in the second half. The shirt was auctioned off by former England defender Steve Hodge, who said he acquired the item from Maradona after the game.
“I know perfectly well that [Hodge] doesn’t have it. My father said to me: ‘How am I going to give away the shirt of my life?’ Dalma told Argentine radio ahead of the sale. “People who are going to participate in this auction should know that they are getting a very important jersey, but it is the one from the first half.”
Sotheby’s provides proof of the authenticity of the Maradona shirt
The famous auction house has however provided proof of the shirt’s authenticity, posting a series of images where you can see differences in the pattern and screen printing between the two shirts, as well as a comparison of the shirt Maradona wore in the second half with the item in their possession. The details on the AFA crest in these images apparently coincide with Maradona’s shirt in contemporary photos from the second half of the match.
The screen printing of the Argentina shirts was done by hand, so there are discrepancies between the verticality of the stripes and their alignment with the numbers on the back. A Twitter user posted images showing the hand-ironed numbers on the back of Maradona’s shirts were slightly different in each half, and a photo of the Argentina captain celebrating a goal appears support Sotheby’s claim that the lot is authentic and the shirt worn by Maradona during the second half.