December 7, 2022 4:12 am

Argentina celebrates return of Maradona’s World Cup final shirt

Argentines are celebrating the return of football legend Diego Maradona’s World Cup final shirt to the country.

Thirty-six years after Argentina beat Germany in the 1986 World Cup final, the shirt which Maradona wore in the first half has been handed back to the Argentine Football Association (AFA).

Former Germany midfielder Lothar Matthäus, who had swapped shirts with Maradona at half time, donated it to the Argentine people.

The AFA thanked him in a moving video.

Another Maradona shirt, which the Argentine wore when he scored the “Hand of God” goal against England in the quarterfinal of the 1986 World Cup, was sold for a record £7.1m earlier this year. That shirt was put up for auction by former England midfielder Steve Hodge.

But despite the astronomical sum the “Hand of God” shirt fetched, Lothar Matthäus told the Daily Mail he had never considered cashing his Maradona shirt in.

Matthäus presented the jersey to the Argentine people at a ceremony at the Argentine embassy in Madrid in August, saying that “Diego is a god in Argentina, that is why it was special to give them the jersey”.

“Too bad he’s not here today,” Matthäus said of Maradona, who died of a heart attack in 2020. “Diego will always be present in our hearts.”

The shirt went on display at Legends, a museum showcasing historical football pieces in Madrid, before being returned to Argentina by collector Marcelo Ordás on Wednesday.

The AFA marked the occasion with an emotional video in which it thanked “our friend Lothar Matthäus” in the name of all Argentines.

“This is the story of a German captain who had an Argentine captain as his friend. And like all friends they exchanged the best things they had, a hug, a piece of advice and the odd shirt,” a narrator says as footage of the two footballing greats embracing plays.

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