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Maradona, who led Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986, is widely considered one of the greatest players ever, and his death at age 60 last year plunged the world of international sport into a period of mourning.
The blue-and-white striped jersey, which Maradona wore in his World Cup debut in a group stage match against Belgium in 1982, features his signature on the front in black ink and is expected to pull in an estimated $150,000 to $200,000, according to New Jersey-based auctioneer Gotta Have Rock and Roll.
“As far as a public auction, there’s never been a piece like this. And it’s hard to say there will be again,” said Gotta Have Rock and Roll project manager Alex McNicholl.
“Just knowing what Maradona has done for the game at an international level and how this jersey was the start of his international career, it’s very remarkable and it really is a one-of-a-kind piece.”
Interest in Maradona memorabilia erupted after his death, with the shirt he wore in the infamous 1986 World Cup quarter-final match against England, where he scored his “Hand of God” goal, worth an estimated $2 million, according to an American expert.
Former England midfielder Steve Hodge, who owns the item, has insisted, however, that it is not for sale.
McNicholl told Reuters that the 1982 jersey, which came to the auction house from an Argentine journalist, is a museum-calibre piece.
“It’s hard to be a fan of soccer and not know what Maradona has done for the game,” said McNicholl. “Every soccer fan is a Maradona fan.”
Diego Maradona's No.10, No.3 Worn By Paolo Maldini, And Other Legends Who Took Their Number…
Ruling The Squad Numbers
Diego Maradona: No. 10
In 1984, SSC Napoli, considered to be the distant outpost in the backwoods of Italian football, signed Diego Maradona. The Argentine helped the club wrest control from more illustrious rivals; Napoli won their maiden Serie A title in 1987, and the UEFA Cup in 1989.
Maradona continued to be involved with the club as a scout even after leaving in 1992 following a positive drug test. Napoli retired his number '10' jersey in 2000, a few months after he had a heart attack. When Maradona died last week, the club announced that it would rename its stadium in his honour.
Bobby Moore: No. 6
In 1964, Bobby Moore, 23, took a break from football, nursing what was then believed to be a groin injury. Unbeknownst to his teammates and the press, Moore underwent surgery for testicular cancer. Next year, he led West Ham to victory in the European Cup Winners Cup, and in 1966, he lifted the World Cup as England captain. Moore was cited by Pele as the greatest defender he played against. In 2008, West Ham retired his number '6' shirt, to commemorate the 50th year of his debut game.
(Image of 1961: Pic by Mirrorpix via www.nationalfootballmuseum.com)
Johan Cruyff: No. 14
The Dutch midfielder, widely regarded as the greatest European player of all time, was immensely popular at all clubs he played for. In 2007, when Ajax retired Cruyff's '14' jersey on his 60th birthday, FC Barcelona wanted to do the same. They eventually decided against it since he had played with different squad numbers. Cruyff was tasked with rebuilding the team following the departure of Maradona to Napoli. He won 11 titles as Barcelona manager, including the club's maiden European Cup.
Paolo Maldini: No. 3
Expectations from Paolo Maldini were already great when he made his debut at the age of 16. Paolo, son of AC Milan legend Cesare, spent 25 years at the San Siro, winning 25 trophies, including five Champions League and seven Serie A titles. AC Milan's number '3' shirt has remained unused since Maldini hung up his boots in 2009. He agreed to let the club retire his squad number on one condition: It would come out of retirement should one of his sons break into the first team.
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