By Chris Forshaw
It would seem these days that every collector worth his salt has got a match worn Maradona shirt proudly displayed on his website. That might not seem strange in itself but the very fact that there are so many Maradona shirts described as match worn does beg the question.....Are they all genuine?
I have no doubts that during his playing career in Europe and, indeed, Argentina opposition players all desperately vied for the shirt swap with Diego at the end of 90 minutes of being dragged all over the park. Those players, on the whole, were not as ridiculously rewarded financially as today’s stars, which is reflected in the amount of former players who end up selling their treasured items.
It would be interesting listening to the kitmen of Maradona’s various clubs in order to ascertain just how many shirts he went through a season. Did he swap shirts every game requiring a new shirt each match?
Judging solely by the number of shirts appearing on a weekly basis on ebay alone it would appear so. A look around Napoli collector sites tells a similar story, nearly every collector has at least one ‘match worn’ shirt from the player. Is this really possible?
It’s worth comparing the abundance of Maradona shirts with the scarcity of a player of a similar era, Michel Platini. Platini, arguably the finest French player of all-time, is a name you will struggle to find on any spam list of shirts sent around the world by shirt ‘dealers.’ Which strikes me as rather odd considering his standing in the world game both during his playing career and now.
You could probably add Johan Cruyff to that as well, where are all of his shirts? Yet a recent list sent by email to collectors around the world by a leading and respected collector contained no less than 8 Maradona shirts, all of which were described as worn. Every conceivable shirt that Maradona could have worn from his junior team right through to his Soccer Aid rain jacket have appeared on websites or emails for sale. Maradona himself has no shirts left as he sold them to a European collector who since failed to find a rich enough buyer for the last remaining shirts from the great man.
So are collectors being hoodwinked into buying shirts that are not what they are described as? It would certainly appear that way but without the opinions of those who own such shirts we will never know. Collectors are understandably keen to protect their investments and what collector has’nt rushed in to a sale convinced they had a good shirt at a bargain price only to be left disappointed?
Any future value as an investment is surely reduced by the sheer number and availability of such shirts though. In recent years the market in ‘retro’ replicas has boomed meaning there are now thousands of exact replicas, with very little if any difference from the shirts worn in Maradona’s career. If you don’t know what you are looking for then you can easily be ripped off. I would certainly urge anyone thinking of buying a Maradona shirt to do their research before making a significant investment in what appears to be a very murky area.