The football with which Diego Maradona scored his infamous "Hand of God" ball has failed to sell at auction - though negotiations have gone into added time over the £2m top bid.
Discussions are now taking place between interested parties and the seller, Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser, after the auction failed to reach the £2.5m reserve price.
Argentina captain Maradona scored two unforgettable goals in the quarter-final of the 1986 World Cup to beat England at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.
He controversially punched the opener beyond England goalkeeper Peter Shilton – which the referee allowed to stand – before scoring a superb individual effort, later voted Goal of the Century by fans.
The Argentina playmaker, 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. England, though, were knocked out of the tournament after losing 2-1, with Argentina going on to become world champions following victory over West Germany in the final.
Referee Mr Bin Nasser, who took charge of the tie at the Estadio Azteca, owned the ball, which was sold by Graham Budd Auctions on Wednesday, with the initial estimate having been between £2.5m and £3m.
Maradona’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.
Auctioneer Budd, who specialises in sports memorabilia and is based in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, far exceeded his personal record sale – which was £420,000 for the Olympic torch from the 1952 Games in Helsinki.
Ahead of the auction, Mr Bin Nasser said he felt it was the right time to share the item with the world and expressed hope the buyer would put it on public display.
Speaking of the handball goal, the Tunisian match official said: “I couldn’t see the incident clearly. The two players, Shilton and Maradona, were facing me from behind.
“As per FIFA’s instructions issued before the tournament I looked to my linesman for confirmation of the validity of the goal – he made his way back to the halfway line indicating he was satisfied that the goal should stand.
“At the end of the match the England head coach Bobby Robson said to me: ‘You did a good job, but the linesman was irresponsible’.”
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