The Sotheby’s auction house in London is selling one of the most coveted pieces of kit in the world, the shirt Diego Maradona wore to beat England.
The one that former player Steve Hodge, the audacious player who asked Maradona for the shirt after the quarter-finals of Mexico 86, gave to the National Football Museum in England and has now decided to sell it and has already received an exorbitant offer for it.
“Just today there was an offer of four million pounds. I honestly believe it will exceed the price we estimate (between four and six million) and that it will become the piece of football that has reached the most money at auction,” Wachter told Efe.
The jersey, a legendary one for Argentines and for football, is the one that the 25-year-old Maradona wore in Mexico for the quarter-final against England. A classic duel for the still painful Falklands War and for everything that happened in the second half of that match.
The controversial move
In the 51st minute, Hodge himself made a mistake on a clearance, sending the ball into his own box. Maradona leapt as Peter Shilton did, and put the ball into the England cage. With his hand.
“A little with his head and a little with the hand of God. I told my team-mates to come and celebrate or the referee would disallow it,” Hodge said.
No one had the courage to overrule that. Shilton, to this day, still hasn’t forgiven Diego for cheating.
Four minutes later, Maradona netted arguably the greatest goal in history. Hector Enrique gave the Villa Fiorito man an assist in midfield and he dribbled past five players before scoring to make it 2-0 to the ecstasy of Victor Hugo Morales, the match’s commentator.
Following the match, after Hodge had been reluctant to ask the Argentine for the strip, the Englishman was given a second chance. After a television interview, he spotted Maradona with a couple of team-mates. “An English lad came up to me and asked me if we could swap shirts. I said yes,” Maradona revealed in the book “Touched by God”. It was probably the best deal of Hodge’s life.
“Now he thinks it’s time to sell it,” Wachter adds about a jersey that has not been without controversy. Ever since it was created.
Is it the genuine article?
Carlos Bilardo asked for lighter jerseys for the temperatures and humidity in Mexico and Le Coq Sportif, Argentina’s sponsor, made them, but only for the home version. In those quarter-finals, Argentina had to play away, so at the last minute they had to find a model that would fit and allow them to play comfortably. Bilardo and his team were unable to choose between the two options they were given, until Diego arrived. “This one, with this one we will beat England”.
And 36 years later, the controversy is still alive. One of Maradona’s daughters claims that the shirt that has been put up for auction is not the one from the goal, but the one he wore in the first half. Sotheby’s strongly deny this.
“In order to bring an object like this to the market, it has to pass numerous tests. The first thing is that Maradona confirmed in the book that he gave it to Hodge,” explains Wachter.
“We have also gone through a process of photographic comparison in which minute details between the shirt we have here and the images of the time are thoroughly analysed. We have compared the shirt with the photographs of the post-goal celebration and it is the same. A thread sticking out of the F of the AFA shield, a notch under the badge and several threads sticking out over the top,” adds the curator, who notes that they have not been in contact with the daughters, but have been in contact with Maradona’s sisters, who have offered support with the auction that will run until 4 May.