A retired English player who swapped jerseys with Diego Maradona sold it for R150 million

Business Insider US
Diego Maradona's jersey is thought to be the most expensive sports item ever sold.
Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby's
  • Diego Maradona's "Hand of God" jersey just sold for $9.28 million (some R150 million), auction house Sotheby's said.
  • It's believed to be the highest price ever paid for a piece of sports memorabilia.
  • The jersey was owned by Steve Hodge, who swapped jerseys with Maradona at the 1986 World Cup.
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Soccer legend Diego Maradona may have scored two of the world's most famous goals in 1986, but it's his opponent who just became almost $9.3 million (about R150 million) richer because of the feat.

Steve Hodge, a retired English midfielder who played against Maradona in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals, has sold his Argentine counterpart's jersey for $9.28 million in an auction held by Sotheby's, the auction house announced Wednesday. 

Known as the "Hand of God" jersey, it has been held on display at the National Football Museum in Manchester for the last 20 years. According to Sotheby's, the jersey is believed to be the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever sold.

The jersey is a reminder of Maradona's infamous goal against England, in which he scored using his left hand, giving Argentina a 1-0 lead because the referee didn't have a clear view of the play.

Minutes later, he made what is widely regarded as the greatest soccer play of the 20th century, dribbling past five English players — including Hodge — before sending the ball past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. 

When asked about the first goal, Maradona was famously quoted as saying it was due to "a little with the head of Maradona, and a little with the hand of God."

Argentina ended up winning the match with a score of 2-1. In the stadium tunnel after the game, Maradona swapped jerseys with Hodge, who has held ownership of the "Hand of God" shirt ever since.

"The Hand of God shirt has deep cultural meaning to the football world, the people of Argentina, and the people of England, and I'm certain that the new owner will have immense pride in owning the world's most iconic football shirt," Hodge said in a news release from Sotheby's. The auction house did not identify the jersey's buyer.

The "Hand of God" game's cultural significance has gone beyond sport: the match has also been seen as a symbolic act of revenge for Argentina after it lost the Falklands War against the UK.

Maradona, who died of heart failure in 2020, once said of the match: "It was more than beating a football team, it was beating a whole country."

However, there's been some dispute over whether the shirt is the correct one.

Dalma Maradona, the eldest of the soccer player's three daughters, said her father had changed jerseys at half-time because of the heat on the pitch and that Hodge had received the shirt Maradona used in the first half of the game.

"He has the first-half top. I wanted to explain that to people so that whoever wants to buy it knows the truth," she told Radio Metro in April.

Sotheby's told Insider's Barnaby Lane that Dalma's claim was false.

"Prior to putting this shirt for sale, we did extensive diligence and scientific research on the item to make sure it was the shirt worn by Maradona in the second half for the two goals," said Melica Khansari, Sotheby's deputy director of communications.

The sale of Maradona's jersey has trumped the price of the Olympic Games' original manifesto, which sold for $8.8 million in 2019, according to Sotheby's. The previous price record for a game-worn shirt was set by Babe Ruth's Yankees road jersey, which sold for $5.64 million in 2019, per the auction house.

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