Exactly three decades and almost 10,000 kilometres separate the 1986 FIFA World Cup™ in Mexico from the present day in Zurich. Thanks to the fact that both time and space are relative, we can still relive the memories of those spectacular finals and the emotions they trigger. Nowhere is this truer than when visiting the FIFA World Football Museum, which opened its doors in Switzerland’s capital city in February 2016.

A 1986 World Cup treasure chest
"It’s such a fantastic gallery, as it brings all those wonderful feelings rushing back – a visit here is a must for every football fan,” said World Cup record goalscorer Miroslav Klose after travelling to see the new home of the beautiful game’s history a few weeks ago. In addition to numerous interactive stations, several fascinating films and the original men’s and women’s FIFA World Cup trophies, the museum features a display for each individual edition of the tournament, each boasting an array of unique objects – with one particular case prompting visitors from across the globe to linger far longer than elsewhere.

There are few sporting stories more exciting than the one recounted by this cabinet. It is the tale of a superstar at the peak of his powers who left everything and everybody trailing in his wake to lead Argentina to international glory like no man has before or since. It is also the story of an exceptional playmaker who never accepted anything less than perfection but could not prevent Brazil’s early exit despite his creativity and intellect. Finally, it recalls a star striker forced to endure Germany’s second defeat in the same stadium in the space of 16 years despite scoring in the Final.

A shirt worn by Diego Maradona at this tournament sits alongside Socrates’ boots and the footwear pulled on by Rudi Voller in the Final, transforming this display case devoted to the 1986 FIFA World Cup into a true treasure chest. Having adorned some of the beautiful game’s most talented players as they worked their magic, these authentic, historic objects now reside just a few centimetres apart from each other. As if that were not enough, a small silver box beside these items draws visitors’ attention to another of the tournament’s stars – this time for the hosts.

A corner of the earth imbued with history
This unremarkable little canister contains earth taken from the ‘hallowed turf’ of the Estadio Azteca in 1986. Back then Mexico City’s footballing shrine held 114,600 spectators, providing a vibrant centrepiece for the tournament and becoming the first arena to stage two World Cup Finals after playing host to Brazil’s 4-1 triumph over Italy in 1970.

For its second World Cup Final, the stadium provided the setting for Argentina’s 3-2 win over West Germany. The result marked the second defeat at the Azteca for the now four-time world champions, having previously lost 4-3 to Italy after extra time in the ‘Match of the Century’ during the 1970 semi-finals. This same mound of earth was present for another emotionally-charged moment in footballing history, when none other than Maradona scored both the ‘Goal of the Century’ and with the ‘Hand of God’ in his country’s 2-1 1986 quarter-final triumph over England.

Although this one small case is filled with momentous sporting treasures from a tournament 30 years in the past and a memento from a truly remarkable arena that also turned 50 just a few weeks ago, its presence at the FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich means the Mexico 1986 fiesta will never end.

What other 1986 FIFA World Cup items are in this cabinet? To find out, watch our video, which includes an interview with the museum’s Collections Manager, Moritz Ansorge, and reminisce about Diego Maradona and the Estadio Azteca!