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The incredible story of the £4 million jersey

The jersey with which Maradona scored two of the most famous goals in the world against England in the 1986 World Cup will be put up for auction.

The incredible story of the £4 million jersey The jersey with which Maradona scored two of the most famous goals in the world against England in the 1986 World Cup will be put up for auction.

The legend of Diego Armando Maradona, almost two years after his death, continues to fascinate fans around the world, feeding stories and anecdotes that had remained hidden for decades. Recently the decision of Steve Hodge, former midfielder of the English national team, to auction the jersey with which Diego played in the hystorical challenge in the round of the 16 of the 1986 World Cup between England and Argentina. A match that has remained in football history thanks to the two unique goals scored by the Argentine star, the first stretching the ball past Shilton with his arm, with what was to become the Hand of God, and the second dribbling over the entire English rearguard, for what was voted the Goal of the Century.

The jersey, valued by Sotheby's at the exorbitant figure of 4 million pounds, has already sparked considerable discussion about its real authenticity, as both Maradona's daughter, Dalma, and ex-wife Claudia Villafane have stated that Hodge is not in possession of the original one. The confusion stems from the fact that there are two jerseys from that match, as the El Diez changed it at halftime and then scored the two goals in the second half. Dalma clarified how the jersey now on auction would not be the one of the second, but rather of the first half and therefore not the one worn while Maradona was writing soccer history. Neither of the two women, however, wanted to reveal who would be in possession of the second jersey, that they cannot guarantee the veracity of the aforementioned and that in the end it is their word against Hodge's. 

In fact, it is not only Hodge's word, who having exchanged his jersey with Maradona's at the end of the historic match, it would have been difficult for him to get the one used in the first half, but also from companies expert in authentication for auction houses. Resolution Photomatching, asked by Sotheby's to guarantee the authenticity of the jersey, confirmed Hodge's version with a long letter in which he specifies that the jersey that will soon be auctioned is exactly the one worn by the Argentine number 10 in the second half on June 22, 1986 at Atzeca Stadium. A confirmation also came from the Twitter user @MaradonaPICS, an authority when it comes to the iconography related to the Pibe de Oro.

The differences between the two kits are quite evident, and open another chapter in the history of the jersey worn in that match by the Argentine selection. In fact, it was not the classic albiceleste used by the South American national team during the previous matches of that World Cup, with the exception of the round of 32 game won against Uruguay, but the story goes that it was made in a hurry the night before. It was the 1980s and teams did not have to abide by the very strict rules imposed by FIFA on game uniforms, deciding at the last minute to change their jersey. So Coach Carlos Bilardo, after facing Uruguay in a blue cotton jersey, thought it was too heavy to take the field under the afternoon heat of Mexico City.

But it was too late to manufacture new jerseys so he sent a member of his staff, Ruben Moschella, to look for possible solutions. Moschella came back with two proposals, and Maradona chose one of them stating "This is a good jersey to beat England" or so the story goes. Moschella then went back to the store, bought enough jerseys for the whole team and also had an AFA (Argentine Football Federation) crest made to be sewn on, which was very different from the one previously used, as well as that of technical sponsor Le Coq Sportif. The game numbers printed on the back, on the other hand, had been made for American Football, and in fact were larger than normal and in a translucent gray that will no longer be seen on soccer jerseys.

Now that jersey found by chance in a store in Mexico City will be auctioned for a few million pounds, the representation of how the magic of soccer can make even a simple V-neck t-shirt an immortal symbol and how the figure of Maradona continues to exert a unique fascination on anyone who loves the most beautiful game in the world.