Maradona’s long-lost 1986 Golden Ball goes up for auction

Missing for 27 years after a robbery, the award crowned the Argentine star’s performance in Mexico 1986

Diego Maradona’s 1986 World Cup Golden Ball award is going up for auction. The award, which crowns the best player in every world cup, was given to the Argentine star after his performance in Mexico 1986. It will be auctioned on June 6 by French auction house Aguttes.

The award was believed to be lost after Maradona’s home in Naples, Italy, was robbed in 1989. However, it was recovered in 2016 after a collector unwittingly bought it among other items and reported the find, according to French sports news outlet L’Equipe. The ball-shaped trophy resembles the Azteca, the ball used during the 1986 World Cup, and was authenticated by the auction house by matching it with photographs from the 1986 award ceremony.

It will be the first award of its kind to go up for auction, but not the first piece of Maradona-related memorabilia. The Argentina shirt he used in the quarterfinals game against England was auctioned for 7 million British pounds (US$8.8 million) in May 2022, while that game’s ball went for 2 million pounds six months later.

Maradona won the Golden Ball after leading Argentina to its second World Cup title. In that game against England he scored two of the most famous goals in football history. First, he hit the ball with his hand to out-jump England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, which became known as the “Hand of God.” Then, he slalomed through five players including Shilton himself to score, in what was voted as the “Goal of the Century” in a 2002 poll by FIFA.

The award is not to be confused with the Ballon d’Or, given by French football magazine France Football since 1956. That award was only awarded to European-born footballers until 1995, meaning Maradona wasn’t eligible to win it in 1986. In 2016, to mark the 60th anniversary of the award, the magazine reevaluated its past winners and decided the Argentine would have won it that year had he been in the running.

Maradona died in 2020 aged 60. The official cause of death was a cardiorespiratory arrest after an acute lung edema. However, this has been disputed by his family and a medical malpractice case is set to go to trial in June.

— with informations from Reuters


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