A jersey worn by the great Babe Ruth is currently the most expensive jersey ever sold. But not for long. A prime jersey worn by soccer great Diego Maradona and being auctioned at Sotheby’s out of London will take over as the most expensive jersey ever.
The Maradona jersey is dubbed ‘The Hand of God’ and the ‘Goal of the Century’ as it is a World Cup match worn jersey for two of the greatest goals ever. With an estimate of 4 million to 6 million British pounds, the current 4 million pound bid converts to $5.137 million in U.S. dollars.
The 4 million pound bid is the only bid and it does meet the reserve to ensure that the irrevocable bids result in a sale. Where this gets interesting is that there are still 11 days and 23 hours remaining for bidders to come in on the action. Image below by Sotheby’s.
Sotheby’s has explained the goals and the significance of this great provenance:
On the 22nd of June 1986, a 25 year old Diego Maradona “The Golden Boy” – who many consider the greatest to ever play the game of football – would make history in the match and cement his name permanently in the chronicle of the sport and on the world’s largest stage at that. Two of the most extraordinary goals (and perhaps one of the luckiest) in the sport of football were scored in the same match, and no less, by the same player.
The first, known around the world as “The Hand of God” occurred when Maradona – in the second half of the Quarterfinal – scored a cunning goal with his hand. It all happened quickly, and in the blink of an eye Maradona had fooled the officials, masking his mischief with a convincing celebration. As the referees did not have a clear view of the play, the goal stood, giving Argentina a 1-0 lead in the contest. In his own words Maradona would say he told his teammates, “I told them, ’Come hug me, or the referee isn’t going to allow it.’” After the game Maradona was quoted saying he made the goal with, “a little with the head of Maradona, and a little with the hand of God.” He would later explicitly state that he felt it was “symbolic revenge” for the United Kingdom’s victory in the Falklands Island War. The play is globally renowned as one of the most iconic moments in the history of the sport of football.
The second goal known as the “Goal of the Century” – which many consider to be the greatest individual goal of all time – occurred when Maradona dribbled past a host of England players, dancing around them in angelic style, carrying the ball half the length of the pitch and scoring a tremendous second goal against English goalkeeper Peter Shilton.
In 2002 FIFA held a vote as part of a promotion for the 2002 World Cup. Over a 6 week span, more than 340,000 votes were cast from over 150 countries, with Maradona’s second goal in the match receiving the title of “Goal of the Century.” The goal would cement Argentina’s 2-1 victory in the contest against the English. Argentina would go on to win the 1986 FIFA World Cup.
Sotheby’s further outlined the provenance and consignor information about how the jersey was acquired and how it was matched up:
After the game, England midfielder Steve Hodge (the consigner for this offering), who had flicked the ball unintentionally to Maradona on “The Hand of God” play decided he would ask Maradona to swap shirts. In an interview with FIFA, Hodge recalled, “I thought, I won’t be here again. I’ll try and get a shirt… I shook Maradona’s hand. He was being mobbed by his team-mates. So I thought, ’There’s no point, just leave it.’” Hodge then did a TV interview, and then had a second chance encounter with Maradona. “After the interview, I went down, behind the goal, to the changing rooms… As I went down, Maradona was walking with two of his team-mates. I looked him in the eye, tugged on my shirt as if to say ’any chance of swapping?’, and he came straight across, motioned a prayer, and we exchanged shirts. And that was it. It was just as simple as that.” Maradona lays out the exchange as well in his book, Touched by God, “On the way to the locker room, one of the English guys—it turned out to be Hodge, but I wasn’t sure at the time—asked me to swap jerseys with him. I said yes and we did.” The shirt has been on loan to the National Football Museum in Manchester since 2002.
Part of Sotheby’s challenge in evaluating the shirt was pinpointing the shirt to the two historic goals. As part of this endeavor, Sotheby’s worked with Resolution Photomatching in order to match the shirt to both goals examining unique details on various elements of the item, including the patch, stripes, and numbering. Resolution Photomatching was able to make a conclusive photomatch to the celebration following “The Hand of God” goal. Resolution Photomatching did determine that Maradona switched shirts during the match, but that Maradona did wear this shirt for both historic goals in the 2nd half of the match.