Diego Maradona’s shirt from the 1986 World Cup

Diego Maradona’s number 10 shirt from the 1986 World Cup match against England – £6m at Sotheby’s.

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With premium added, the price was £7.14m. Sotheby’s told ATG that the buyer was anonymous.

Estimated at £4m-6m at the auction on May 4, the shirt drew a number of bidders who took it beyond the previous high for any sporting item: the $7.5m (£5.73m) for the original 1892 autograph manuscript of the Olympic Manifesto which also sold at Sotheby’s in December 2019.

Maradona’s number 10 shirt also broke a ream of other records. The previous auction record for a sporting shirt was held by a Babe Ruth Yankees jersey from 1928-30 that sold for £4.7m (£3.73m), or $5.64m including premium, at Hunt Auctions in June 2019.

The latest sum also dramatically raised the bar for any football shirt, the previous high being the £140,000 (£157,750 with premium) for Pelé's 1970 World Cup final shirt which sold at Christie's South Kensington in 2002. The previous record for any piece of football memorabilia was a premium-inclusive £759,062 paid by Manchester City’s owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed for the oldest surviving FA Cup at Bonhams in September 2020.

Maradona’s shirt

Maradona’s shirt came to auction from England midfielder Steve Hodge, left, who swapped shirts with the Argentine after the match.

The Argentina v England match on 22 June 1986 will forever be remembered for Maradona’s two goals – the first, the notorious ‘Hand of God’ goal, and the second, his slalom run through the English defence which is widely considered the greatest individual goal in the history of the game.

The shirt came to auction from the collection of England midfielder Steve Hodge – who had unintentionally flicked the ball to Maradona during the ‘Hand of God’ play. After the final whistle, Maradona and Hodge swapped shirts and the former Tottenham and Nottingham Forest midfielder kept it in his collection before loaning it to the National Football Museum over the last 20 years.

Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectables, said: “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.”

The sale was not without some controversy however. According to The Sun, officials at the Argentine Football Association travelled to London along with representatives from Maradona’s family and a private memorabilia firm to make a last-ditch attempt to secure it for a museum in Buenos Aires. One member of the group said: “He [Hodge] is selling something that belongs to Maradona and the AFA without authorisation.

“It should be in Argentina in order all Argentines can enjoy it — and not for a millionaire to display it in his closet.”

The Sun article also mentioned a claim by Maradona’s family that the shirt at Sotheby’s was the Argentine’s shirt from the first half, and so not the ‘Hand of God’ shirt. However Sotheby’s said that physical examination of the shirt confirmed it as that worn at the time Maradona scored the infamous goal and that it had been reviewed by “the pre-eminent sports memorabilia photo-matching firm, Resolution Photomatching” to confirm the matched features.