The story of how Maradona’s shirt ended up in the hands of an English footballer

The TV cuts its signal after the game, but continues on June 22, 1986. Arriving at the tunnel of the Azteca stadium, which has a ramp instead of stairs, the Argentines receive spit and insults from the stands. They are some of the hooligans scattered in the lower ring of the Azteca. Pumpido and Ruggeri approach the fence and answer. Some English players, on the other hand, having already lost the sports duel, are looking for sentimental revenge.

“In the end I wanted Maradona’s shirt but there was a bit of a queue, a lot of suitors,” writes Barnes in his biography, and it’s as if he still regrets it. The tradition is to trade him with the closest rival you had in the match and Steve Hodge scored Diego in the last five minutes so he kept the shirt. Barnes is almost right: Hodge will keep Maradona’s shirt but not for a geographical question but for a wink, perhaps the only time on 22 June 1986 he favored an English footballer.

“When the game was over, a couple of teammates wanted Maradona’s shirt,” writes Hodge in his book. At first I didn’t even think about it. I had never done that in the World Cup and just wanted to get away quickly. The Argentines celebrated like crazy. But since we were already eliminated, I said to myself: “Well, I can try” and I went to shake Maradona’s hand. Chris Waddle – forward – was on the same page. There were a lot of people, it was chaos, so I loved him and left. At that point I was asked to speak to Gary Newbon – the interviewer for an English channel, ITV – and this delayed me, so it took me a couple of minutes to leave the field. The teams had two separate tunnels, but they joined underground and took us to the changing rooms. Going for mine, I see how Maradona also went for him. We looked at each other and I pulled my shirt off, as if asking for a change. He nodded yes and voila. It was pure chance. He put his hands together in thanks and walked away.

For Hodge it was the most extraordinary moment of his career, or so the title of the biography he published in 2010 suggests: after a long journey of his own, which included two World Cups, more than 300 games in the English First Division and a Scudetto. with Leeds in 1992, the book in which he talks about his career is entitled “The man with the shirt of Maradona”. The cover is a picture of 10 Argentines and 18 Brits chasing a ball in Mexico. That second of grace in the Azteca basement, that exchange of glances with Maradona, would also have been the best economic deal for Hodge. Your early retirement.

“When I returned to England, I put the shirt in the attic of my house and it remained there until 2002, when I saw news that caught my attention – says Hodge in his book -: one of the shirts that Pelé had worn at the World Cup 70 it went up for auction and sold for £ 150,000 – $ 225,000, until then in the hands of a Slovakian footballer who traded him for O’Rei after a Brazil-Czechoslovakia match. I knew that Maradona’s in 1986 could be comparable and the shirt he wore became a topic of conversation. I was invited to a TV show in London and traveled the day before. At eleven in the evening they called me to ask if I had brought it. I didn’t have it, so I called my mother-in-law to have it searched and sent to me by motorbike by courier. I was very nervous until they delivered it to me at two in the morning. In another program, one of the drivers wanted to put it. Like all clothes of that time, Maradona’s was very small, so I started sweating more for it than for the lights in the studio. I was afraid it would break and that helped me decide to insure it, but it was difficult because no company wanted to value it. So I left it at the National Football Museum in Preston. People ask me more questions about Maradona’s shirt than anything else. I’ve never washed it, it still has its sweat and DNA on the fabric. ”

“Now it’s at the National Football Museum in Manchester, I lent it to show it,” says Hodge, via email, as if Maradona’s shirt were confirmation that humanity’s great treasures end up in British museums. . I had offers to sell it but I didn’t want to: it is the great moment of my career, and a reminder of the best player who has played this sport.

After the game, on June 22, 1986, Hodge entered the English locker room with Maradona’s shirt clenched in his fist. What he finds is a barren landscape. Glen Hoddle kicks things around him. Many players, including the manager, learn of the illegality of the first goal. It’s like a truth test. Or a part of the war.

“We have been devastated,” Shilton says in his book. Bobby Robson came in and asked: “Didn’t he touch the ball – in reference to Maradona and the hand of the first goal -?”. We all replied, “Yes, he did it.” Bobby looked sadly at the floor and said, “So we’ve been fooled.” I was so upset about the elimination that I didn’t stop at the ongoing controversy. However, this would not go away. It would accompany me throughout my life, until today “.

“When I opened the locker room door, there were tears,” says Robson in his bio. The players were sick and nothing he said could help them. I myself was in a trance. The bus, on the return journey, would resemble a hearse.

“I looked around and they were all exhausted,” Barnes recalls in his book. Inside, however, I was moved by the mere fact of having shared the field with Maradona in a World Cup “.

“I got to the locker room,” recalls Hodge, “and the players were complaining about the hand ball. That’s when I found out what had happened. Butcher was angry, there was an aggressive mood, everyone was talking about it. The feeling of being being betrayed was overwhelming. It was rumored that Ted Croker – the president of the English federation – would file an official complaint with FIFA. I kept my cool and put Maradona’s shirt in the bag.

“There was no way I wanted to trade T-shirts with any of the Argentines,” writes Sansom in his bio, always angry, especially with Hodge. In fact, things got a little heated in the locker room when some of our rivals – minutes later – tried to swap their kit for ours. Some of us would have liked a fight more than a show of joy. Ironically, the only person willing to get their hands on Maradona’s shirt was “Mr. Forgetful” himself, Steve Hodge. He still has it and it’s worth a fortune: estimated at something like £ 250,000 ($ 380,000). I wish I had it. “

“I have never hidden the fact that I have kept Maradona’s jersey”, explains Hodge. I have a picture from a newspaper, the day after the game, in which I am wearing it, and none of my teammates were angry. We had been eliminated from the World Cup, and that was the only thing we thought.

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