Lionel Messi's World Cup 2022 shirts to be sold at auction - and could become most valuable ever collection

20 November 2023, 14:19 | Updated: 20 November 2023, 15:45

Football shirts worn by Lionel Messi during Argentina's winning run at the World Cup in 2022 are set to go under the hammer - and are predicted to become the most valuable collection of sports memorabilia ever to sell at auction.

Sotheby's estimates the six shirts worn by the Argentina captain in Qatar, including during the nail-biting final against France in December 2022, could fetch more than $10m (about £8m).

Argentina won the final - and the country's third World Cup - in a penalty shoot-out after a 3-3 draw in which Messi scored two goals.

The footballer, 36, shared news of the auction on social media, announcing that a portion of the proceeds would be donated to the Unicas Project, led by the Sant Joan de Deu Barcelona Children's Hospital, for children suffering from rare diseases.

Michael Jordan's 1998 NBA Finals jersey, which sold for $10.1m at Sotheby's in New York in September 2022, holds the current record for a game-worn item of sports memorabilia.

In terms of football memorabilia specifically, the current record for a game-worn item is $9.3m, also in 2022, and comes courtesy of another famous Argentinian - the shirt worn by Diego Maradona during the 1986 quarter-final 2-1 victory over England, during which he scored his infamous "Hand of God" goal.

Sotheby's will put Messi's shirts up for auction between 30 November and 14 December and they will be on view during these dates at its headquarters in New York as part of a free public exhibition.

The auction house is working with US-based tech start-up AC Momento, which partners with high-profile athletes to help manage their match-worn memorabilia.

Read more on Sky News:
Four men found guilty of murdering council worker Ashley Dale
Singer hurt 'while restraining backstage intruder'

Messi, who currently plays in the MLS in the US for Inter Miami, the club part-owned by David Beckham, spent 17 years at Barcelona, winning Spain's league on numerous occasions and the European Champions League four times. He has won the Ballon d'Or, which is presented annually to the game's top player, a record eight times.

Brahm Wachter, Sotheby's head of modern collectibles, described Argentina's World Cup win as "one of the greatest events in sports history, intrinsically connected to Messi's valiant journey".