Police say the game shirt and other soccer items were taken from the home back in December 1994, but that insurance and investigation records about the theft had been purged by the time the yellow Brazil jersey was recovered recently.
That left officers with little room to move on the file, as they needed a way to authenticate the stolen jersey before handing it over to its rightful owner.
But the case rebounded when they got a tip from within the police force that the two officers who first responded to the call were then in their late 20's or early 30's.
With this investigators managed a breakthrough when last week they tracked down the duty book notes of one of the since-retired responding officers, filling in the details and allowing the jersey to be returned.
London police called it "an example of the value of detailed report-taking and an example of some very good detective work."
The soccer garb was also signed by former professional soccer player Hugo Perez.