The Seven Wonders of the Soccer Collecting World7 min read

Beginning in 2015, PSA started selecting The Mount Rushmore of Cards for each segment of the hobby. Unlike other sports, soccer’s collector base has a much wider global reach, meaning that instead of using Mount Rushmore – an iconic American reference, the Seven Wonders of the Soccer Collecting World seems a better way of recognizing the top cards and stickers in the soccer genre. This list would be akin the “ancient” wonders of the world, as this list will contain only vintage cards and stickers. These are not necessarily the seven most valuable or scarcest cards, rather the items that best represent the hobby as a whole. It is a combination of their overall importance and the symbolic power of the card image itself. An upcoming list of the Seven Modern Wonders of the Soccer Collecting World will feature items released after 1980.

The first soccer cards appeared in England in the late 19th Century. As the sport expanded across the globe, so did the production of soccer cards and stickers. In many countries collectors purchased albums with designated areas for stickers to be affixed. Kids and adults bought packets containing a few stickers, and traded with each other to get the stickers necessary to complete their album. This tradition still occurs to this day, especially for the FIFA World Cups that take place every four years.

Below is our version of the Seven Wonders of the Soccer Collecting World and the reasons we selected each item.

1. 1958 Alifabolaget #635 Pele – As an 18 year old, Pele was able to score 2 goals in a World Cup final and bring glory to his home country for the first time in their history. This 1958 Swedish release depicts the teenager in his Brazilian kit, in which he won the World Cup three separate times, a record that stands to this day. Pele has transcended the sport and become an international icon. All collectors dream of owning this special card due to its striking image and importance to soccer as a whole. As with many stickers from this era, they are hard to find, especially never stuck into an album. None of these stickers have received higher grade than a PSA 9, with only six receiving that mark as of October 2021 of the 80 total encapsulated by PSA.

2. 1977 Futbol Arg. Jrs. #11 Diego Maradona – Diego Maradona was born in a poor town on the outskirts of Buenos Aires in Argentina. After being found by a scout, the young Maradona played for Argentinos Juniors to begin his illustrious career. Maradona went on to play in Spain and Italy, where he elevated himself onto the world stage. In 1986 Maradona led Argentina to an improbable FIFA World Cup title through his heroics and infamous goals. This 1977 cardboard disc  was produced in Argentina and features a teenage Maradona of his first card. The disc is a highly sought after item in the hobby as collectors place a large importance on this rare item. As of October 2021, none of the discs graded by PSA have received a grade higher than an PSA 8 of the 52 total encapsulated by PSA.

3. 1968 Palirex Campeões Europeus De Futebol #301 Gruijff (Johan Cruyff) – Cruyff, or Gruijff as the Portuguese sticker names him, is considered to be an innovator in the soccer world. Not only on the field, but as well as a coach for the club he played many years for, FC Barcelona. This sticker, considered a rookie by the majority of the soccer hobby, features a full portrait in beautiful colors of Cruyff in his boyhood team, FC Ajax. This sticker is extremely difficult to find in high grade as with most older stickers due to the thin paper used and the fact that stickers were meant to be pasted into albums by collectors. Cruyff cemented himself in the history books by winning 3 Ballon d’Ors, 9 Dutch domestic league titles and La Liga one time with FC Barcelona. He was named European Footballer of the Century by IFFHS and PSA has encapsulated 52 total copies with the highest being a sole PSA 9.

4. 1963 Panini Calciatori Eusebio – Eusébio, who was nicknamed the Black Panther due to his incredible abilities on the pitch, was born in the Portuguese colony Mozambique. After being found by a scout from Portugal, Eusébio transfered to Portugal where he played the majority of his career with S.L. Benfica. With Benfica, Eusebio led the club to 11 domestic titles and 1 European Cup. In the early 1960s the Panini company was founded and began producing highly sought-after stickers in Italy. The annual release was the Panini Calciatori albums, which featured Italian teams as well as top players from clubs playing in the European Cup competition. This sticker depicts a young Eusébio with a stunning head shot and bold colors. There are three variations of this rare sticker (blue & yellow nameplates with blank backs as well as Valida backs), all sought after by collectors. To date, PSA has encapsulated 76 copies of all versions with the highest being a PSA 9.

5. 1964 Barratt & Co. Ltd. Famous Footballers Series A.12 #29 George Best – George Best was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland but made his name known in England with one of the most prestigious clubs, Manchester United. Best led the English club to two First Division titles and the coveted European Cup. On an individual level, best won the Ballon d’Or trophy in 1968, which at the time was awarded to the best European player. The Nothern Irish legend is featured on his first card in 1964. The card, which is incredibly rare, bolsters a young Best in the famous red kit of Manchester United. This card has zero copies graded PSA 10 and only one copy has ever received a PSA 9 designation of the 49 total encapsulated PSA copies.

6. 1965 Bergmann Fussball Bundesliga #259 Franz Beckenbauer – Franz Beckenbauer was born in 1945 in Munich, Germany. Der Kaiser (The Emperor) as he was known is often considered the best central defender to ever play the game of soccer. Beckenbauer is credited with inventing the role of a sweeper and changing how defenders played. The German legend played the majority of his career for Bayern Munich, a period in which the club won the Bundesliga four times and won the European Cup three times. Beckenbauer is also one of only three players to ever win a FIFA World Cup as a player and a manager, an incredible feat. The 1965 German issue card features a whole shot of Beckenbauer in bright colors juggling a soccer ball. This sticker, besides being incredibly rare, is extremely condition sensitive. Only two copies of this sticker have been graded above a PSA 5 as the highest grade of the total 33 copies.

7. 1958 A & BC Footballer #3 Robert Charlton – Robert Charlton, known to the world as Sir Bobby Charlton, is considered by many to be the greatest English soccer player of all time. In 1958, a 20 year old Charlton was involved in the Munich Air Disaster that left eight of his teammates dead. This tragedy didn’t stop Charlton’s career as he helped his boyhood club win three English First Division titles and the European Cup. Not only did the Englishman have success for his club, but he was the driving force behind England hoisting the Jules Rimet trophy at the  1966 FIFIA World Cup. The 1958 rookie card features a full portrait of the young legend in his red Manchester United kit. The card, between both variations, has never received a 10 grade from PSA (the highest being a 9 of the 120 copies graded by PSA).

Do you agree or disagree with our selections? Please feel free to let me know your thoughts by emailing [email protected].

In order for collectors to memorialize their endeavors in finding these seven items, PSA has created a new Set Registry set. Please find the set here.

If you could replace any card on the list, which card would take its spot?

  1. 1974 Ageducatifs Football 74/75 #289 Michel Platini
  2. 1955 Vecchi Idolos Do Futebol #523 Garrincha
  3. 1934 Ardath Tobacco Famous Footballers #39 Stanley Matthews
  4. Other – Let us know

Please answer our survey question via this link so we can tabulate the answers.

 

Posted by Matt Hendler

Matt Hendler is an avid soccer collector, mostly in the vintage area. He loves to collect Brazilian legends as well as top players from across the globe. Matt started collecting as a kid, but picked it back up after college and hasn't looked back since. His favorite card in his collection is his 1971 Zico Rookie.

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