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It was one of two on offer in the August 22 auction, both from the 1930s. His first 1932 contract, signed at the age of 17, sold for £4100 against an estimate of £1000-1500 to a private online buyer. Matthews’ 1935 contract, guided at £600-800, sold for £3100 to a lifelong Stoke City fan from London who came to the saleroom.

The London buyer wished to remain anonymous but said: “My father originated from Stoke and saw Stanley Matthews play.

“I have supported Stoke City all my life and it was just something I wanted to own.”

Brothers David, 53, Andy, 56, and Graham Lockett, 61, who live in Stoke and support Stoke City, consigned the contracts. David and Andy were in the auction room along with former Stoke City player George Jackson, a midfielder at the club from 1967-72.

The brothers, who run Edwards & Lockett, a firm making commemorative pottery, in Longton, Stoke, said the fact that they owned the contracts is all down to their father, Les Lockett. He died eight years ago at the age of 88, leaving them the business – and a piece of Stanley Matthews’ history.

“We knew the contracts existed but they were lost for a while,” David said. “We found them when we were having a clear-out. Dad took the contracts in lieu for a debt. That’s the way business was done back in the 60s. The contracts have been gathering dust in a drawer for nearly 50 years.”