Buenos Aires (AFP), April 7 – Diego Maradona’s eldest daughter claims the Argentina jersey set to sell for millions of dollars when it goes up for auction this month is not the one her late father was wearing when he scored the infamous goal of the “Hand of God” against England.
Dalma Maradona said the shirt that was to go under the hammer was actually the one worn by his father in the scoreless first half of the 1986 World Cup quarter-final.
Steve Hodge, the former England player who says Maradona swapped shirts with him at the end of the game in Mexico, is selling the shirt, which is expected to fetch more than £4 million ($5.2 million).
On Thursday, auctioneers Sotheby’s strongly refuted Dalma Maradona’s claims, saying an outside company had provided a “conclusive photomatch” that proved it was genuine.
Sotheby’s also noted that Maradona himself once admitted swapping shirts with Hodge in the player’s tunnel after their 1986 World Cup classic.
However, Dalma Maradona maintains the shirt his father wore in the second half – when he also scored one of the greatest goals in World Cup history – was in the hands of another owner, but declined to name them.
“It’s not that one. I don’t want to say who has it because it’s crazy. He (Diego Maradona) said it. He said, ‘How am I going to give him the shirt of my life?’ she told reporters.
“This ex-player thinks he has my dad’s second half shirt, but that’s a confusion. He has the first half one.
“We wanted to clarify this so that people who want to buy it know the truth,” Dalma said in separate comments on Channel 13 television.
– ‘Extensive due diligence’ –
A Sotheby’s spokeswoman told AFP: “There was indeed a different shirt worn by Maradona in the first half, but there are clear differences between this and what was worn in goal.
“And so, before putting this shirt on sale, we did extensive and scientific research on the article to ensure that it was the shirt worn by Maradona in the second half for both goals.”
The photomatching process involved matching the shirt “to both lenses by looking at unique details on various elements of the item, including the patch, stripes, and numbering.”
He added that Maradona himself acknowledged the provenance of the jersey himself, in his book ‘Touched by God’, and he remembers giving it to Hodge at the end of the game.
“On the way to the dressing room one of the England lads – he turned out to be Hodge, but I wasn’t sure at the time – asked me to swap shirts with him. I said yes and we did it,” Maradona wrote in his 2016 memoir of Argentina’s 1986 World Cup triumph.
Hodge, who wrote a 2010 autobiography titled “The Man in the Maradona Shirt,” paints a similar picture of the exchange.
“Maradona was walking with two of his teammates. I looked him in the eyes, I tugged on my shirt as if to say “no chance to trade? and he came straight up, said a prayer, and we swapped shirts. And that was it. It was as simple as that,” he said.
The Sotheby’s spokeswoman also noted that the shirt had been a prized display at the National Football Museum of England for the past two decades, “where countless people have seen it”.
“There was never a claim that it’s not the shirt,” she said.
The online auction is scheduled from April 20 to May 4.
This is not the first time that the authenticity of a football shirt put up for auction has come under scrutiny.
In 2018, a famous shirt worn by Zinedine Zidane in France’s 1998 World Cup final victory over Brazil was withdrawn from auction shortly before being put up for auction following doubts over its authenticity.