The auctioneer tasked with selling Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ ball has described it as an "absolutely exceptional" item which could fetch up to £3m.
Graham Budd said almost anything was possible when the ball went under the hammer in two weeks.
“It’s a career highlight, without a shadow of a doubt,” said Mr Budd, who is based in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire.
“It’s an absolutely exceptional piece – head and shoulders above anything else that we’ve been commissioned to sell in the past."
An estimate of £2.5-£3m has been placed on the ball, with which Argentina captain Maradona scored two unforgettable goals to knock England out of the 1986 World Cup.
He controversially punched the opener beyond Three Lions goalkeeper Peter Shilton at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, before claiming a superb solo second which was later voted Goal of the Century.
The late star’s shirt from the match, which belonged to England midfielder Steve Hodge, fetched a record-breaking £7.1m at auction in May, having only been expected to achieve around £4m.
Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser, who took charge of the tie, owns the ball, which will be sold by Graham Budd Auctions on Wednesday, 16 November.
“The Maradona shirt ended up making £7m, so you simply never know at auction,” Mr Budd said.
“All the best prices I’ve ever had at auction have made multiples of the estimate.
“Our thinking is that game-worn memorabilia seems to be a degree more popular than equipment, so we’ve sort of aligned it in that way.
“When you have an exceptional item, you get multiple bidding and sometimes it takes a long while for the last person to pull out, so almost anything’s possible at auction, which is why it’s so exciting.”
Maradona, who died aged 60 in November 2020, claimed his contentious opening goal was scored “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God”.
Gary Lineker, the 1986 Golden Boot winner, halved the deficit late on with his sixth goal of the tournament but England were eliminated 2-1, with Argentina going on to become world champions following victory over West Germany in the final.
Mr Budd, who specialises in sports memorabilia, is certain to exceed his personal record sale – £420,000 for the Olympic torch from the 1952 Games in Helsinki.
He said the ball was from a match recognised globally as being exceptional for three goals: one controversial, one sheer genius, and one from the first England player to win the Golden Boot at a World Cup.
“It was just one of those matches that had everything. To have the match ball, it’s an amazing thing to be able to put to market," he added.
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