Maradona's shirt is not for sale, says Hodge


FILE PHOTO: Football - Keith Alexander XI v All Stars XI - Keith Alexander Benefit Match - Sincil Bank, Lincoln - 09/10 - 3/5/10 Steve Hodge - All Stars XI in action Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Craig Brough

LONDON (Reuters) - Former England midfielder Steve Hodge says he has spent a week fending off potential buyers for the shirt worn by Diego Maradona in the infamous 1986 World Cup quarter-final but insists it is not for sale.

Hodge, 58, swapped shirts with Maradona after England's 2-1 defeat in Mexico City's Azteca Stadium, the match in which Maradona scored his so-called "Hand of God" goal before also scoring one of the best ever seen at a World Cup.

The iconic player's death last week, aged 60, has created a frenzy of interest in the shirt, which belongs to Hodge but resides in England's National Football Museum in Manchester, and an American sports memorabilia expert said it could be available for $2m.

Hodge, however, has disappointing news for anyone thinking of making him an offer.

"I have had it for 34 years and have never once tried to sell it," Hodge told BBC Radio Nottingham. "I like having it. It has incredible sentimental value.

"I've had people knocking on my door non-stop and the phone's constantly ringing from every TV and radio station, and even foreign stations.

"It has been uncomfortable and it hasn't been nice. There has been a bit of flak flying around saying I wanted a million or two million and am hawking it around for money. I find it disrespectful and totally wrong. It's not for sale."

It was Hodge's wayward aerial flick that Maradona chased before using his hand to push the ball past England keeper Peter Shilton. He was also one of the England players left trailing as Maradona slalomed through to make it 2-0.

"I have to say I have never once blamed him for the handball. Not once," Hodge added.

"It was out of order but people who play football know that you try things now and again.

"A striker will normally slow down with a big keeper coming out thinking he might get hurt, but Maradona didn't. The bravery to take on a 6-feet-1-inch keeper when he was 5 feet 5 inches showed he didn't give a damn. He was as brave as a lion."

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)

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