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The Jersey Of The Century

May 6, 2022

Would you give someone the shirt off your back? Two soccer players did just that after the 1986 World Cup semifinal game in Mexico – and one of them just scored again when the ‘Jersey of the Century’ sold at auction.

Blue stripe soccer jersey worn by Diego Madadora in the 1986 World Cup

Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona was an Argentinian football (soccer) player in the 1980s and is considered by many to be one of the greatest players of all time. Maradona made two of his most famous goals during the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal game against England. The first has become known as the ‘Hand of God‘ goal; Maradona illegally punched the ball past the goalkeeper, and the referees mistakenly thought he used his head. After the game, Maradona stated that the goal was ‘a bit with his head and a bit with the Hand of God.’

Just four minutes later, Maradona scored his second goal in the game. He gained possession of the ball at midfield, dribbled through the English defenders, and right passed the goalkeeper, solidly kicking the ball into the goal. In 2002 this goal was voted by fans as the ‘Goal of the Century.’ Argentina went on to win the game 2-1. The team went on to win the World Cup that year, defeating West Germany 3-2.

After the game, Steve Hodge, England’s midfielder, asked Maradona if he would swap jerseys. Maradona was happy to make the exchange as Hodge was the player who accidentally flicked the ball to Maradona for his famous Hand of God goal. In 2002, Hodge loaned the jersey to the National Football Museum in Manchester, where it has been on display. Recently, Hodge decided it was time to sell the jersey.  When word got out that he planned to auction it, delegates of the Argentine Football Associate traveled to England to try and convince him to return the jersey to Maradona’s family; he decided to proceed with the auction.

The presale estimate was £4- 6M ($5 – 7.5M), and while the jersey didn’t skyrocket passed the estimate, it did surpass it when it sold for a record price of £7.1M  ($9.3 M w/p). This jersey now holds the record for the most expensive game-worn jersey, beating the record set in 2019 for a Babe Ruth jersey that sold for $5.6M. In addition, it holds the record for any sports memorabilia sold at auction after topping the Olympic Manifesto from 1892, which sold in 2019 for $8.8M.