The ball with which Diego Armando Maradona scored Argentina’s goal against England in the quarterfinals of the 1986 World Cup with the “mano de Dios” in the 1986 World Cup has been auctioned for 2 million pounds (equivalent to $2.4 million).
The Adidas-branded ‘Azteca’ model ball was owned by Ali Bin Nasser, the Tunisian referee of the famous June 22, ’86 match in Mexico City, which ended in Argentina’s 2-1 victory and which also remains memorable for Maradona’s other goal, dubbed “the goal of the century.”
The soccer memorabilia went up for auction at Graham Budd Auctions, six months after the jersey that “el pibe” wore in the historic match was auctioned at Sotheby’s, which sold for about $9.3 million.
The match ball, an Adidas model that was inspired by the architecture and murals of the Aztec civilization, was used for the entire 90 minutes of the match, as was customary in soccer in those years.
The match represented more than a mere sporting challenge: it was experienced as a kind of patriotic revenge by the Albiceleste, with Argentina still suffering from the painful wartime precedent of the defeat in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) in 1982.
Maradona managed to mock English goalkeeper Peter Shilton (and the referee) and put the ball into the net with his left hand by faking a header. The Tunisian referee allegedly justified himself by explaining that from his viewing angle he could not assess that instant of the game with total clarity and that he had asked for clarification from the linesman, who did not point out any irregularities to him.
The Argentine champion would later state that that goal was scored “un poco con la cabeza de Maradona y otro poco con la mano de Dios.” His expression has been immortalized in countless declinations, from the song composed by Alejandro Romero to the title of Marco Risi’s film and Paolo Sorrentino’s more recent one.