An auction of six World Cup jerseys worn by Argentine football legend Lionel Messi is expected to break global records for the sale of sports merchandise. But one of the master's prized blue and white striped No.10 shirts will remain under lock and key in Australia, unlikely to ever be put under the hammer.
Rookie Socceroos midfielder Cam Devlin scored the gift of a lifetime after cheekily asking Messi for his shirt after Argentina beat Australia 2-1 in a pulsating Round of 16 clash at last year's World Cup in Qatar. Despite not playing a game in the tournament, Devlin's request was met by the generous football genius and the jersey he wore in the second half of that match – in his 1000th career appearance - was handed over in exchange for a Socceroos top.
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"I went on (the ground) and consoled all the boys first and then shook Messi's hand," Devlin said at the time. "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?"
"I don't know if it (the Socceroos jersey) will be on his wall at home or maybe still on the ground in that changing room but I'm not fussed — it's more that I got his. I was surprised he even took mine. He definitely wouldn't know who I am, but he's a nice enough bloke and a humble enough bloke to still show that respect, and that's obviously super nice, but I wasn't too worried about what my jersey was doing at that stage."
— DM (@d_moon88) December 4, 2022
Lionel Messi jerseys expected to fetch millions at auction
Messi's jersey was taken back to Australia by Devlin's father, who stored it in a bag with his feet rested on top for security on the flight back to Sydney. It's current whereabouts is being kept secret but the treasured shirt won't be up for sale despite the staggering prices being offered at auction.
A source with knowledge of the situation told Yahoo Sport Australia: "It's locked away and not for sale at any price." The six World Cup jerseys Messi is selling are expected to fetch at least $15m when bidding begins at Sotheby's auction house in New York from November 30-December 14.
The unique collection could threaten the record $15.4m paid for Michael Jordan's 1998 NBA singlet. Maradona's shirt from the infamous "Hand of God" World Cup quarter-final against England in 1986 is the most expensive single piece of football memorabilia sold.
It went for $14m, netting its owner - ex-England defender Steve Hodge - close to $14m. Part of the proceeds from the Messi auction will go towards the UNICAS charity project.
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