Way back in 1986, as Mexico were about to be the host nation for that years World Cup, I was introduced to the wonderful world of football stickers. I had no great interest in the World Cup but my friends at school were all going crazy for stickers that depicted the players, team flags and stadiums of the tournament and I didn’t know why.
My parents knew I had little interest in football but they seemed very happy to purchase a Panini sticker album for me. This was a mistake for them as I then spent a very long summer filling the album with as many stickers as I could find, and there were a lot! The initial album purchase came with a packet of (I think) 6 stickers and I remember vividly getting the England holographic team flag sticker on day one!
I then spent every penny I could get my hands on purchasing more packets, more stickers for the growing collection. Very quickly I found myself with ‘swaps’, those stickers that you already have. Just as quickly I found willing friends to exchange those duplicates, providing me with yet more stickers for the album. By the time the World Cup had finished, I had almost every space in the album filled, short of around 20 stickers I think, almost all of them rare players.
Interest in Mexico dwindled and my sticker album remained dormant until 4 years later with the Italia ’90 championship. By this point I was 12 and had little interest in collecting stickers but I still had that album and a new friend who, by sheer luck, was also a collector of the same Mexico stickers. However, he was a special collector – he hadn’t stuck the stickers in his album!
I remember looking through his collection one day, finding sticker after sticker that I needed to complete my collection. It took very little persuasion to obtain the missing players and I hurried home to ‘finish’ what I had started 4 years earlier. Sadly, this tale does not end well; I filled most of the spaces but still had a handful that would forever remain empty.
To this day, I have no idea what happened to that album and I wish I had kept hold of it. Alas, I’ll have to settle for pictures found on the internet on sites like this one where fellow Englishman Andrew Spooner has uploaded his completed album for all to see.