Maradona Shirt Becomes World’s Most Valuable Sports Memorabilia

Photo Credit: AP

The Maradona shirt that the Argentina great wore when he scored the infamous ‘hand of god’ goal, was sold at auction in 2022. The sale of one of football’s most iconic pieces of memorabilia set a new record.

The blue Argentina number 10 shirt is now the most expensive sports jersey worn in a match, to ever sold. It is also the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever. But how did it get to auction after so many years?

How much did Maradona’s Shirt Sell For?

The Maradona shirt went under the hammer in April 2022. The estimations for the memorabilia were expected to be somewhere between £4m-6m. The former was the mark at which the reserve price had been set.

With only ten minutes of bidding remaining at Sotheby’s, the shirt had surprisingly only received one bid. That was the reserve price and no more. But then it all kicked off as the price of the piece skyrocketed.

How much did the Maradona shirt sell for? It went for a hefty sum of £7,142,500, far exceeding the top end of the estimations for the high-profile auction.

Maradona Beats Babe Ruth

The previous record sale for a worn sports shirt was set when baseball legend Babe Ruth’s jersey went up for sale. The New York Yankees shirt won by the star, sold for $5.6m (£4.4m) in 2019.

But the 2022 sale of the Maradona shirt knocks that out of the park. A representative at Sotheby’s summed up the importance of the shirt by saying “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.”

Who Owns The Maradona Shirt?

The winning bidder of the Maradona shirt auction was not disclosed. So where it has gone and who bought the Maradona shirt is a current mystery. The blue shirt is instantly recognisable with the bright yellow crest of Argentina emblazoned on the left shoulder, the deep v-neck and the trim of white.

The shirt was described on Sotheby’s website as being in “good overall condition consistent with heavy use, perspiration and athletic activity” with “slight de-threading on hemming on the front bottom of the shirt, and minor spots throughout”.

So the new owner of the Maradona shirt isn’t public. But, we do know where it came from and where it has been. For the beginning of the blue number 10 shirt’s journey, we go back to 1986.

1986 World Cup

“A little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God” is the understated quote that the player himself came up with. At Mexico 1986 Argentina faced England in the quarter-finals. The two old rivals of international football went hard at it.

Argentina won the day 2-1, with Maradona scoring both goals for his country. But it was the manner of his first, which to this day, remains one of the most infamous goals ever. Maradona controversially put the ball into the net with his hand. It was something he admitted to doing on purposely many years later.

England player Steve Hodge had unintentionally directed the ball towards Maradona. The Argentine forward leapt into a contest with England keeper Peter Shilton. Maradona punched the ball into the net, but with the referee unsighted the goal stood.

The dust had barely settled on the controversial incident when Maradona was again the centre of attention. He got a hold of the ball, left a host of England defenders in his wake and fired in his second of the match.

Maradona’s second goal was voted the goal of the century in 2022. It was a night and day situation. A staggering moment of unfiltered brilliance, standing in stark contrast to the unsavoury circumstances of his opener. Argentina went on to win the 1986 World Cup.

The Steve Hodge-Maradona Shirt Swap

At the end of the match, Maradona swapped his shirt with England’s Steve Hodge in the tunnel. The very man that had directed the ball towards him for the “hand of God” goal. For 35 years Hodge remained the owner of the shirt. For 20 years it had allowed it to be on display in the Manchester Museum of Football.

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”.

In 2020 when Diego Maradona passed away at the age of 60, Hodge said that he wasn’t going to sell the shirt. But it has now passed hands.

Maradona Shirt Newest Most-Valuable Sports Memorabilia

The Maradona shirt auction sees a new piece now holding the record as the most valuable memorabilia. The previous record was held by another sale that was hosted by Sotheby’s back in 2019.

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Former German soccer player Lothar Matthaus stands next to the show case featuring the shirt worn by Diego Armando Maradona in the final of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, as it is unveiled, during an event at the Argentine Embassy in Madrid, Spain, Thursday Aug. 25, 2022. The shirt was given to Matthaus, after he exchanged shirts with Maradona at the end of the final match. Matthaus has donated the shirt to the Legends football museum in Madrid. (AP Photo/Paul White)

That was an original Olympic Games manifesto from 1892, which was autographed. That went for what is in today’s equivalent of £7.05m. The document was a speech by Pierre de Coubertin which set out the revival of and foundation of the modern Games.

This is not the first Maradona shirt to be sold. In 2018 a pair of Maradona Napoli shirts sold for around €20,000 in Italy.

Diego Maradona’s shirt that he wore in the 1986 World Cup Final, was donated by former Germany international Lothar Matthaus to the Legends football museum in Madrid.

Was Maradona The Greatest?

The name Diego Armando Maradona always enters the conversation about the greatest ever footballer. He was the joint winner, alongside Brazil’s Pele, for the FIFA Player of the 20th Century Award.

“The Golden Boy” was the classic number 10 of the game. He was small with a low centre of gravity. That allowed him to run and weave his way past opponents with the ball seemingly stuck at his feet.

Maradona’s professional career started in 1976 with Argentinos Juniors where he spent five years. He tallied a remarkable 115 goals in just 167 appearances for the club. He then moved on to the bigger stage at Boca Juniors. Maradona collected one league title with the club during his spell with them.

Then the move to Europe came as La Liga giants Barcelona shelled out a then-world record of £5 million. While there were great moments from Maradona during his time at the Nou Camp, like his 1983 El Clásico goal against Real Madrid, injury and illness perhaps meant that the Spanish club never really saw the best of him.

The Love Affair With Napoli

In 1984 Diego Maradona moved to Serie A as he joined Napoli. His unveiling at the club was huge and fans immediately fell in love with him. Interestingly Napoli had only just avoided relegation the previous season. So Maradona’s move to Naples put him in the light of being a saviour of the club.

On the pitch, that played out as well. During Maradona’s time with the Gli Azzurri, was their most successful ever. He took them to their first ever Scudetto title in the 1986/87 season and he helped Napoli double their tally of league titles in 1989/90.

The Coppa Italia, the UEFA Cup and the Italian Supercup all arrived in Naples during Maradona’s time with the club. While his time at Napoli did draw to a sour end in 1992, he remains a legend at the club.

Napoli’s ground, the Stadio San Paolo, which is the third-largest stadium in Italy, was renamed “Stadio Diego Armando Maradona” in 2022. The City Council passed the proposal after Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis had put forward the proposal.

At the 1990 World Cup, one of the matches that the stadium was used for, was a match between Argentina and Italy. Maradona called on the home fans to throw some support towards Argentina. They responded by hanging a banner in the stadium that read “Maradona, Naples loves you, but Italy is our homeland”

Maradona’s International Career

Maradona made 91 appearances for Argentina. He scored 34 goals during that spell, including two of the most famous goals in the history of the game. It was an international career that started when he was a 16-year-old.

He made his World Cup debut in 1982 and it was a rough tournament for him. He was repeatedly targeted by opposing players (none more so than Italy’s Claudio Gentile) and finished the tournament with five appearances, two goals and a red card.

But four years later he was pivotal in leading Argentina to World Cup success. This was a different Maradona. A player that was able to dominate matches, using his dynamic ability to his very best on the world stage.

Maradona scored five goals and five assists during the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. His second goal against England in the quarter-finals, which was at the famous Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, saw the authorities there build a statue of him scoring that goal.

While that controversial “hand of God” goal will always come up, there probably hasn’t been a complete World Cup tournament performance as Maradona’s in 1986. Zinedine Zidane has said that he “was on another level”, and ESPN reported it as “the most virtuoso performance a World Cup has ever witnessed.”

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