Football Programmes Centre

Most Valuable Football Memorabilia
Football's global influence has placed serious value on the most prized and unique possessions the game and its governing bodies have produced. Read on as we explore the pieces of football memorabilia that have driven up collectors' bids at auctions.

"Hand of God" Jersey from the 1986 World Cup

The "Hand of God" refers to a controversial goal scored by Diego Maradona of Argentina in the 1986 World Cup Quarterfinals, a 2-1 victory over England. Maradona took a lofted high pass near the goalkeeper and, while attempting a header, likely scored a goal by punching the ball or at least striking it with his hand by accident. Naturally, England's players and coaches protested, but the game umpires awarded the goal to Maradona and Argentina without instant replay.

The match itself became part of a worldwide narrative as England had invaded Argentina's Falkland Islands and battled over its sovereignty just a few years earlier. After the match, Maradona exchanged his game jersey with Steve Hodge of the English team, having stumbled upon each other in the tunnel following Argentina's celebration. Since Hodge and Maradona spoke different languages, Hodge took his jersey off and gave it to Maradona as a universal gesture to ask for his jersey in exchange, to which Maradona obliged.

Hodge held on to the jersey for 20 years, dedicating it to the National Football Museum in Manchester before selling it at an auction in 2022, two years after Maradona died, for a record- breaking £7,100,000.

Lionel Messi's World Cup Jerseys

Argentina and its World Cup runs get on our list again with Lionel Messi's 2022 World Cup jerseys. Messi's set of jerseys, which included six of the seven he wore as he led the Argentinean team to a World Cup title, including his jersey from the World Cup final, was auctioned off and fetched £6,100,000. Among the reasons for the high price are believed to be Messi's two goals in the championship and his record-setting fifth World Cup appearance. However, they sold for a million pounds less than Maradona's jersey and for less than predicted, likely due to market conditions and because one of his appearance jerseys may have been exchanged with another player and wasn't available for sale.

Sheffield Football Club Rules

Football's rules may have changed a bit over the years, but the laws that govern the game came from somewhere. The Sheffield Football Club produced a handwritten set of rules when the club was originally organised in 1857, and it represents the first example of a private team starting the rules structure we know today; soccer's laws were otherwise formed within universities and public schools. This particular set of regulations became more influential as the Sheffield team succeeded in making the sport popular throughout the United Kingdom.

The Sheffield Football Club Rules were sold at Sotheby's Auction for £882,250. The team decided to use the funds from the sale to maintain and develop their facilities, which seems like a wise plan.

Pele's 1970 World Cup Final Jersey

Pele's name is synonymous with soccer and Brazil. The superstar led his national team to four World Cup appearances and three World Cup championships with teams that some consider to be the greatest of all time. The iconic yellow and green jersey Pele wore as he scored his final goal for the Brazilian national team went to auction in 2023 and sold for £157,750.
The price feels like a bargain for the jersey of one of the greatest players ever. We can't help but wonder whether the winner used a secure method like pay by mobile to buy it.

Alan Ball's World Cup Medal

For those who don't know, England is said to be the birthplace of modern soccer. Though they have sent talented teams to the World Cup, they only won the finals once, in 1966, on their home turf at Wembley Stadium. In 2022, much of what Ball wore during the finals game went to auction, with his red shirt and cap also selling, but his World Cup finals medal earned the highest ticket with a £200,000 final bid.

Jules Rimet Trophy Replica

The 1966 World Cup became notable before England won the cup for the first time, and one of the most uniquely interesting pieces of football memorabilia had to make its appearance before the final match, though few people knew. England hosted the tourney and had the Jules Rimet World Cup trophy displayed at Central Hall Westminster months before the tournament started. A sneaky visitor snatched the trophy from its guarded display case when apparently no security guards were present.

The story of the stolen trophy gets weirder. FIFA had to make a secret replica of the trophy, and then a man and his dog stumbled upon the original trophy and returned it. A recent story confirms that the original World Cup trophy was quickly swapped out for the replica after England won, but the team never noticed. For less than specific, but perhaps fairly obvious, reasons FIFA may have been nervous about having the trophy paraded around England.

The replica was later sold at auction for £254,500 to FIFA itself.


Football's long history as an internationally loved sport has produced historic treasures that are sought after by collectors who place them in private collections or public museums. We are sure that as football's popularity continues to spread, we will see even more remarkable achievements by its most skilled players, and new memorabilia will follow as stars rise and retire.