Several Australians spent their World Cup last-16 match in Qatar trying to get hold of Lionel Messi’s shirt, before Cameron Devlin cheekily snagged it after the final whistle. Now the opportunity has arisen to get hold of the jersey the Argentina captain wore in the first half of the match, during which he scored the opening goal.
Messi is putting it up for auction along with five other shirts he wore as Argentina won the World Cup. They include the one he wore in the final itself when he scored twice in the 3-3 draw against France that preceded Argentina’s penalty shoot-out win
The shirts are expected to fetch a collective $US10m ($A15m), threatening the world record for sports memorabilia.
That is currently the $US10.1m ($A15.4m) paid in 2022 for Michael Jordan’s 1998 NBA Finals jersey. The record for a game-worn football shirt is £7,142,500 ($A14m) for Diego Maradona’s from Argentina’s 1986 quarter-final 2-1 victory over England.
That was sold by defender Steve Hodge, whose mis-hit clearance was infamously punched in by Maradona’s “Hand of God”.
Both of those sold at Sotheby’s whose New York branch are auctioning the Messi set between 30 November and 14 December. The shirts will be on view at its New York headquarters during the bidding dates.
An undisclosed portion of the proceeds will be donated to UNICAS Project, led by Sant Joan de Déu (SJD) Barcelona Children’s Hospital with the support of the Leo Messi Foundation, to meet the needs of children suffering from rare diseases.
Devlin got Messi’s shirt in Qatar without even playing in the match, won by Argentina 2-1.
“I went on [the pitch] and consoled all the boys first and then shook Messi’s hand,” he recalled later. “No one had said anything so I just tried my luck and he said, ‘I’ll see you inside’. I definitely wanted one of the other boys to have the opportunity first, but no one took it, so I thought why not?”
It increasingly looks as if Devlin struck the jackpot when he chanced his arm.