20100616

Maradona's shirt on view again


The choice of title for a former England World Cup star's book of football memories has led to a surge of interest in the shirt worn by Diego Maradona when he scored the infamous "hand of God" goal that helped to end England's participation in the 1986 tournament.

Steve Hodge picked The Man With Maradona's Shirt as a suitable name for a book based on diaries kept during his career in the game because he really is "the man with Maradona's shirt", having swapped tops with the Argentine genius shortly after the infamous quarter-final in Mexico City.

The shirt, which spent more than 15 years in Hodge's attic after the 1986 finals, will be on display in Nottingham Castle for the next three months.

Hodge, now 47, hopes that allowing people to look at the shirt in his home city will help raise Nottingham's profile as a potential host city at the 2018 World Cup, should England's bid to stage the tournament be successful.

The former Nottingham Forest player, who made more then 250 League appearances for Brian Clough's team and won 24 senior England caps, approached Maradona outside the dressing rooms in the Aztec Stadium, unaware at the time that the first of his opponent's two goals -- set up by his own skewed backpass -- should not have stood.

"I felt it was the pinnacle of my career and I just wanted a souvenir," he told the BBC. "I shook hands with him after the final whistle but there were press and cameras all over the place and they [the Argentine players] were in high spirits so I was just going to leave it.

"But then I saw him again in the changing room area inside the stadium and he agreed to swap shirts."

Hodge's England teammate Terry Butcher once famously said that if he owned the shirt 'I wouldn't even wash my car with it' but while Hodge was soon aware of the injustice of Maradona's opening goal, he kept the garment all the same.

Not that he took particular care with it.  Back in England, it soon joined his other memorabilia in the loft.

"It stayed there for 15 years, untouched and unwashed, along with some Forest shirts from my European days, from my time at Leeds and from two World Cups with England.  It was just another piece of memorabilia from my career.

"It was only about 10 years ago, when I heard that an old shirt of Pele's had sold for quite a lot of money, that I wondered if it better go somewhere a bit more secure, and for six years it was in the National Football Museum at Preston."

The Pele shirt to which he referred, worn in the 1970 World Cup final, also in Mexico, realised £157,750 at auction at Christie's in 2002.

Its value enhanced not only by the notoriety of the "hand of God" but by the brilliance of Maradona's second goal, scored only three minutes later, when he jinked round six England defenders before sliding the ball past goalkeeper Peter Shilton, Hodge's prized possession has been estimated to be worth around £200,000.

The National Football Museum closed its Preston site in April in preparation for a move to Manchester next year.  Rather than leave the shirt in a bank vault, Hodge -- raised in the Gedling area of Nottingham -- liked the idea of bringing it back home.

It will be part of an exhibition of sports clothing at Nottingham Castle that also includes the costumes worn by the city's ice dancing duo, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, when they performed their gold medal-winning Bolero routine at the 1984 Winter Olympics.  Curators of the Castle Museum expect to see a sharp rise in visitor numbers.

The Man With Maradona's Shirt is published by Orion.

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