This was more than just a game of football. This changed the future of football.
At Graham Budd Auctions, we are delighted to bring the infamous ‘Hand of God’ ball to auction, used for the duration of the forever memorable World Cup quarter-final match in 1986. It is a ball that not only played a role in three iconic and momentous goals but was used in a match the likes of which will never be seen again.
When Diego Maradona and the Argentinian football team came to the 1986 Mexico World Cup, they carried the hopes of an entire nation still reeling from the fallout of the Falklands War, fought just four years earlier. As a result, the match-up against England in the quarterfinals of the competition was drenched in historical importance. It marked the climax of a rivalry that dated back to 1951 and the media’s focus on this animosity only helped fuel the tense atmosphere felt throughout the stadium.
On 22nd June 1986, Argentina ran out onto the pitch at Estadio Azteca, dressed in kit bought from a local shop in Mexico City. Along with the England team, the young Tunisian referee, Ali Bin Nasser, already awaited the Argentinians on the field, ready to officiate the game alongside Bulgarian linesman Bogdan Dochev. The ball set down between the two teams on that day would be involved in some of the greatest football ever played on the World Cup stage.
In the 51st minute, following a relatively ordinary first half, Diego Maradona took one leap into the air that would come to rock the world of football. Following an inadvertent volley from Steve Hodge, Maradona jumped for the ball with English goalkeeper Peter Shilton and bumped it with his fist directly into the open net. To disguise the handball, the legendary player began to celebrate with his teammates as the officials tried to make a decision on a play that had seemingly happened too fast for them to see the offence clearly. Following the assurance of the linesman that the goal should stand, Nasser delivered the decision that would give Argentina a 1-0 lead in the contest. After the game, Maradona was quoted saying he made the goal “a little with the head of Maradona, and a little with the hand of God.”
Just three and a half minutes later, however, Maradona would deliver the ‘Goal of the Century’, so-named by a vote held by FIFA in 2002 as part of the promotions for the World Cup. Demonstrating the skill that would cement him as one of the greatest players of all time, the Argentinian dribbled half the length of the pitch, weaving smoothly past several England players, to knock the ball around Shilton and into the goal, securing his team’s second goal of the match. The tremendous goal ultimately took the Argentinians to victory, despite Gary Lineker’s powerful header straight to the back of the net in the 80th minute that earned him the Golden Boot for the tournament.
From that game, Argentina would go on to win the 1986 World Cup and stand on the balcony at Casa Rosada, joyously holding aloft the trophy.
Relating to perhaps one of the most iconic games in football history and consigned by referee Ali Bin Nasser himself, the ‘Hand of God’ ball represents so much more than just the match itself. This single piece of memorabilia captures two moments that went beyond the physical game of football, that had a hand in encouraging the evolution of technology in the sport and that branded themselves in the minds of all the viewers and many a fan’s memory for years to come. This ball is a reminder of the excitement, anticipation, joy and heartache that can be brought to a crowd through the beautiful game.
The 'Hand of God' ball is due to go under the hammer on the 16th November 2022 in our World Cup Special auction. For further details about the ball and the auction itself, head to the football's listing in our auction catalogue.