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Is Maradona’s record-breaking Hand of God Argentina shirt the real deal?

The Argentina great’s family had suggested the shirt sold by Sotheby’s for a record amount was not the one Maradona wore in the second half against England.

Sotheby's provides proof of Maradona shirt authenticity.

Sotheby’s on Wednesday sold one of the most famous lots in football history: the shirt worn by Argentina great Diego Maradona during the 1986 World Cup quarter-final against England, during which the legendary number 10 scored two of the most indelible goals in football history: the “Hand of God” strike, when Maradona pushed the ball over Peter Shilton’s head with his hand, and the “Goal of the Century,” when he slalomed through the entire England team from the halfway line before slotting home.

The shirt is a V-neck design, with stripes in two different shades of blue, and the number on the back in silver. The front bears the distinctive logos of the Argentinean Football Association Le Coq Sportif, which at that time designed Argentina’s kits. The lot made history by becoming the most expensive item of sports memorabilia ever put under the hammer when it sold for 7.14 million pounds ($8.93 million). However, there is some speculation that the shirt may not be the one Maradona was wearing when he scored the two goals in Argentina’s eventual 2-1 win, but the one he used in the first half, which ended 0-0.

Sotheby's technicians put the famous shirt on display.
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Sotheby's technicians put the famous shirt on display. ADRIAN DENNISAFP

Maradona’s family say Sotheby’s lot is not Hand of God shirt

When it became known that the shirt was going up for sale, Maradona’s daughter Dalma Maradona and her mother, Claudia Villafañe, said the item was not the one the Argentina great was wearing in the second half. The shirt was put up for auction by former England defender Steve Hodge, who said he had acquired the item from Maradona after the game.

“I know perfectly well that [Hodge] hasn’t got it. My father told me: ‘How am I going to give away the shirt of my life?” Dalma told Argentinean radio before the sale. “The people who are going to take part in this auction should know they are getting a very important shirt, but it’s the one from the first half.”

Sotheby’s provides proof of Maradona shirt’s authenticity

The famous auction house, however, provided proof of the shirt’s authenticity, releasing a series of images where differences in the pattern and silkscreen painting between the two shirts can be seen, as well as a comparison of the shirt Maradona wore in the second half with the item in their possession. The details on the AFA crest in these images apparently coincide Maradona’s shirt in contemporary photos of the second half of the game.

The screen printing on Argentina’s shirts was done by hand, so there are discrepancies between the verticality of the stripes and their alignment with the numbers on the back. A Twitter user published images showing that the hand-ironed numbers on the back of Maradona’s shirts were slightly different in each half, and a photograph of the Argentina captain celebrating a goal appears to support Sotheby’s claim that the lot is genuine and the shirt worn by Maradona during the second half.


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