A month ago, PSA unveiled The Seven Wonders of the Soccer Collecting World in order to define the top seven most iconic soccer items released prior to 1980. The Seven Wonders of the World received a new variation in 2000 named the New Seven Wonders of the World. The soccer genre also views different periods of collecting, with 1980 being the relative beginning of the modern era. In order to honor some of the most iconic post-1980 soccer cards and stickers, PSA has created a new list: New Seven Wonders of the Soccer Collecting World. It is important to note that these choices are not based off of value or rarity, but rather items that stand out as important in the soccer collecting hobby.
The 1990s and 2000s ushered in new card styles for the soccer hobby. In 2014 Panini released the first ever global card set that included the United States. The set, 2014 World Cup Prizm, has become a classic that fetches staggering prices for players such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Since 2014 more and more new sets have entered the market through Topps and Panini, who both own the rights to separate leagues across the globe. Despite the new card styles, stickers still reign supreme in many cases due to their release before players receive full size card stock releases.
Before we get to the list, it is important to comment on some of the Honorable Mentions that are truly iconic items from 1980 to Present but didn’t make the cut on our list. Here they are, in no particular order:
1985 Panini Calciatori #93 Roberto Baggio – The divine ponytail. Amazing yellow borders on this key iconic rookie card of a legendary Italian player.
1985 Panini Football 86 #25 Eric Cantona – Tough to find sticker of a beloved player of Manchester United fans.
1987 Copa Uniao #115 Romario – One of the few players to ever score 700 competitive goals. The small sticker out of Brazil is very tough to find with good centering.
1991 Panini Abril Campeonato Brasileiro #26 Cafu – Brazil’s most ever capped player. A multi world Cup winner. One of the greatest Right Backs to ever play. Amazing white border sticker with a clear photo of the young super star.
1995 LCD Publishing Premier Strikers #62 David Beckham – Beckham was one of the most popular soccer players to ever live. His time at Manchester United is immortalized by this great looking card.
1993 Panini Abril Campeonato Brasileiro #90 Rivaldo – A world Cup winner and Ballon d’Or winner. Rivaldo scored wherever he was playing!
1998 Mundi Cromo Liga #16 Xavi Hernandez – The Barcelona legend and now coach had a successful career with his club and country. This card, while hard to find, is a beautiful shot of the elite playmaker.
2000 Panini Fotboll Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Ibra, as fans call him, has been playing at the highest level for over 20 years. His travels have taken him to the Netherlands, Spain, England, USA, Italy, France and more!
2002 Mundi Cromo Liga #666 Andres Iniesta – Iniesta was an incredible talent during Barcelona and Spain’s domination in the late 2000s and early 2010s. This card is one that is hugely popular in soccer collecting.
2002 Panini Campeonato Brasileiro #26 Kaka – Kaka is one of the few players to ever win a World Cup, UEFA Champions League and Ballon d’Or. A true legend and incredibly difficult sticker to find.
2008 Panini Ekstraklasa #8 Robert Lewandowski – Lewandowski, who many believe would have won the Ballon d’Or in 2020 if it was awarded has proven himself time and time again for Bayern Munchen. The elite goal scorer recently broke Gerd Muller’s longstanding goal tally for a season.
2009 Abril Gol Cards #155 Neymar – Neymar bursted onto the scene while playing for Santos in Brazil. This bright yellow card featuring a young Neymar shows the ‘craque’ doing what he is best at: maneuvering with the soccer ball.
2010 Panini Football Belgium #153 Kevin De Bruyne – The Belgian has shown himself time and time again as an elite play maker for Manchester City and his national side. This rare sticker boasts a great image of the young player.
2016 Panini Foot #504/505 Kylian Mbappe – Mbappe followed in Pele’s footsteps winning his first World Cup as a teenager. His rookie sticker has become an important item in the soccer market despite the fact he shares the sticker with another player.
2019 Panini Fussball Bundesliga #32 Erling Haaland – While Haaland is still young he has already had a large impact on the soccer world. His Panini sticker from his time in Austria boasts a large value in a PSA 10.
But now, here are our views on the New Seven Wonders of the Soccer Collecting World and the reasons we selected each item.
2004-05 Panini Sports Mega Cracks #71 Lionel Messi
In 1987 a future legend was born in Rosario, Argentina. Lionel Messi grew up as a child in the town northwest of Buenos Aires. Messi at age six joined the hometown club of Newell’s Old Boys where his talent quickly showed itself. The young Argentinian almost never played soccer again after it was discovered he had a growth hormone deficiency. In 2000 a contract was signed between Messi’s family and the Spanish mega club FC Barcelona on a napkin in order to ensure the club was able to secure the transfer of the talented youngster. While at La Masia (Barcelona’s famous training grounds for their youth system), Messi finished a growth hormone treatment and was able to lead the “Baby Dream Team,” the best ever youth side Barcelona had organized. As Messi made his name known throughout the organization, he was given a chance at just 16 years old to play for the senior FC Barcelona team in a friendly match. The 2004 campaign was the beginning of Messi’s incredible career for the Catalan club. He was able to learn from soccer legends such as Ronaldinho and Xavi and took those attributes to the next level. The Argentine has won the Ballon d’Or award an incredible six different times and is on the short list to win his seventh in 2021. During his 16-plus seasons with Barcelona, Messi led the club to 10 La Liga titles and four UEFA Champions League trophies. Messi’s international career had been overshadowed by the club’s success until he led his native country to the Copa America title in 2021. In shocking news in the summer of 2021, FC Barcelona had to let go of Messi. He was quickly picked up by Paris Saint-Germain in France where he is currently working towards winning another UEFA Champions League title. Messi’s top rookie card is his 2004 Panini Sport Mega Cracks #71 which features the young legend dribbling the ball, a skill he has shown to be one of the greatest of all-time in. This card is heavily sought after for many soccer collectors due to its importance in the hobby. While 424 copies have been encapsulated by PSA, only 20 have received the GEM-MT 10 grade.
2002-03 Panini Sports Mega Craques #137 Cristiano Ronaldo
With over 365 million Instagram followers, Cristiano Ronaldo is by far and away the most followed athlete on the globe. The Portuguese superstar was born on the island of Madeira in 1985. After being discovered by Sporting CP in Lisbon, the young player left his home island to play in the capital of Portugal. After one season on the Portuguese club’s senior team, the young Ronaldo featured in a friendly match against Manchester United. Impressed by the young player, legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson opted to sign him for a staggering 12 million pounds. After joining one of the biggest clubs in the world, the Portuguese forward began to show his talents and abilities. During his successful stint in England, Ronaldo and team won three Premier League titles and a UEFA Champions League crown. Ahead of the 2009/10 season Ronaldo secured a transfer to the Spanish club Real Madrid for a world-record fee at the time of 80 million pounds. This investment showed its return as Ronaldo won two La Liga titles and four UEFA Champions League trophies. During these years, Ronaldo was able to win five Ballon d’Or tropies, given annually to the best soccer player every across the globe. This success pushed him into the spotlight where he became a worldwide icon. In 2016 Ronaldo and his Portuguese teammates were able to secure a victory in the Euro tournament held every four years. After this achievement and a few more years at Real Madrid, the forward made a massive transfer to Italian giants Juventus where he would play for three seasons. In a groundbreaking move this past summer Ronaldo headed back to Manchester United where he is currently scoring more goals. The 2002-2003 Panini Sports Mega Craques rookie card depicts a teenage Ronaldo dribbling on the pitch, most likely heading towards the goal. The card features him still in his Sporting CP kit, which is made up of green and white bars. This card has been graded 189 times at PSA, with only 38 copies receiving the grade of PSA 10.
1991-92 Panini Foot ’92 #43 Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane, a native of Marseille, France, stood out as a youth player at Cannes in Ligue 1. After a successful beginning in France, the French superstar made his transfer to Juventus in Italy. In 1998, while still at Juventus, Zidane led his national team to their first ever World Cup title, scoring two goals in the final match against defending champions Brazil. This incredible feat mixed with his standout season with Juventus won him a Ballon d’Or, the world’s top individual soccer award. Zidane and France followed up the 1998 World Cup with another trophy at the 2000 Euro tournament. In 2001 the Frenchman broke the world record transfer fee in order to complete a move to Real Madrid to play with the Galacticos. While at Madrid, the sensational attacking midfielder continued to add to his legacy winning La Liga once and scoring an iconic volley in the final match to win a UEFA Champions League title. Zidane, after retiring in 2006, eventually made his way back to Real Madrid where he worked up the ranks of the coaching team. As a coach, Zidane won two La Liga titles and led the Spanish giant to three consecutive UEFA Champions League titles, an incredible feat. Zidane’s rookie sticker features a bright yellow border, with the young player in the red and white Cannes kit. This sticker is a tough one to find, with only 69 ever having been graded by PSA as of November 2021. Out of the 69 graded, zero have been given the GEM-MT grade of a 10 and just five copies have received PSA 9 status.
1999 Panini Campeonato Brasileiro #124 Ronaldinho
Ronaldinho, whose birthname is Ronaldo de Assis Moreiera, was a magician on the pitch who was loved for his incredible skill and seemingly effortless scoring and passing abilities. The native of Brazil began his career as a futsal player but turned those skills into soccer in his teenage years. Ronaldinho made waves at his first club, Gremio in southern Brazil where he was recruited to play for Paris Saint-Germain in Paris, France. While a member of the PSG team, Ronaldinho participated in the FIFA World Cup in 2002 where the Brazilian and his teammates were able to win the highly sought-after trophy. After a short stint in France, the Brazilian was transferred to play for FC Barcelona in Spain. With Barcelona, Ronaldinho was able to capture the hearts of soccer fans across the world. He played with an electric style that was effortless and entertaining to watch. His prime years landed him with a Ballon d’Or, two La Liga titles and a UEFA Champions League trophy. Ronaldinho was able to mentor Lionel Messi while at Barcelona and made a large impact on the young Argentinian. After five successful years at the Spanish side, ‘Dinho completed a transfer to AC Milan in Italy where he faced some challenges off the field, but overall had another successful stint. After his time in Italy, the talented Brazilian returned to Brazil where he played for Flamengo, Atletico Mineiro and Fluminese. In this time, he was able to help Atletico Mineiro win the Copa Libertadores, the largest tournament in South America. While he didn’t play at the highest level for as long as some of the others on this list, the time he did spend at the top left a permanent mark as someone who was easy to watch due to his natural talent. Ronaldinho’s 1999 sticker from Brazil depicts the teenager casually with the soccer ball. The image sums up his career as he played for the enjoyment of the game. This hard-to-find sticker has only been graded 47 times by PSA, with only two of them earning the grade of Gem-MT 10.
1982-83 Panini Voetbal 83 #21 Marco Van Basten
Marco Van Basten was born in Utrecht, Netherlands in 1965. Van Basten grew up playing for local teams in Utrecht before he moved to the most famous Dutch club, Ajax, as a 16 year old. As a teenager, the young Dutchman was able to solidify his spot as the top striker for the Amsterdam-based club. In his time at Ajax he tallied 128 goals in just 133 appearances. These goals helped Ajax win the Eredivisie (the Dutch domestic soccer league) three times. In 1987 Van Basten made a move to AC Milan in Italy where his career began to excel. While the team was successful, the Dutchman himself was racking up the individual awards. Van Basten was able to secure three Ballon d’Or awards among countless other achievements that cemented him as one of the greatest soccer players of all time. These individual achievements were alongside AC Milan winning four Serie A titles and multiple European titles. In parallel to the club success, Van Basten was an integral part of the Netherlands capture of the 1988 European Championship. The career of the Dutchman was cut sadly short due to ankle injuries that left him sidelined before he eventually called it quits and retired from professional soccer. Despite his relatively short career, the striker finished with 219 goals in 281 appearances for Ajax and Milan. The 1983 Panini Voetbal sticker distributed in the Netherlands is incredibly difficult to find in any condition. As of November 2021, PSA has only graded 16 copies of this elusive sticker. Of the copies graded there are zero PSA 9 or 10s and just two PSA 8s! The sticker bolsters a fantastic headshot of the teenage Van Basten in the iconic red-and-white kit of Ajax. A simple but yet elegant design makes this sticker one of the most iconic in the modern-day soccer hobby.
1994-95 Panini Voetbal 95 #78 Ronaldo
The “original Ronaldo,” before Cristiano Ronaldo rose to the world stage, was Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima. “O Fenomeno” (The Phenomenon), as he was dubbed, was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1976. As a youngster Ronaldo dropped out of school to play soccer. At the age of 16, the Brazilian was recognized by former world-class players as a future star and a talent that had the ability to be a superstar. Due to his incredible skill and goal-scoring techniques, the Brazilian moved to the club of Cruzeiro, where he lasted less than two full seasons before he transferred to PSV in the Netherlands. In two seasons with PSV, O Fenomeno tallied 54 goals in just 58 games. These performances led to interest from top clubs across Europe and eventually led to Spanish club FC Barcelona paying $19.5 million, a record fee at the time. Ronaldo only lasted one season at Barcelona, but that was not without impressing soccer fans across the globe with his elite goal scoring ability. In 37 games he managed to score 34 goals which cemented him as one of the best players in the world. After the season was over, Inter Milan in Italy broke the world transfer fee record to secure the services of the Brazilian. In 1998 during his time at Inter Milan, FIFA hosted the World Cup. Ronaldo and Brazil were able to fight their way to the finals before unusual circumstances saw them lose to the French. Despite this, Ronaldo was named the player of the tournament. In 1999 he faced extreme injuries that sidelined him for a long period. He was able to make his comeback in 2002 where he led the Brazilian National team to their record fifth World Cup victory. After this, Ronaldo returned to Spain where joined Real Madrid as a member of the infamous Galacticos. Ronaldo spent five seasons in Madrid where he was able to win La Liga. After his time in Madrid, Ronaldo spent time with AC Milan and Corinthians before retiring. Ronaldo’s individual achievement list is seemingly endless, but among the awards are two Ballon d’Ors. Along with this was two FIFA World Cup trophies and two Copa America titles. Ronaldo has multiple sets in which he appears in the 1994-95 season, but the one that has shown itself to be the most iconic to the soccer collecting community is the Panini Voetbal #78 which is a headshot of the smiling young Brazilian. The full-size sticker mixed with the strong orange and yellow on the top and bottom make the sticker pop to the eyes. As of November 2021, PSA has graded this Dutch sticker 98 times, with seven copies receiving the PSA 10 designation.
1996-97 Panini Foot ’97 #195 Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry was born in the suburbs of Paris, France in 1977. After playing for multiple smaller youth teams, Henry was scouted by the large French club Monaco which was able to secure the services of the teenager. While at Monaco the Frenchman was able to help the club win the Ligue 1 title. His performances in the 1997/98 season helped him to earn a spot on the French national team. In 1998 Henry was chosen to go to the World Cup with France despite not playing for a large club. Henry was France’s top goal scorer in the tournament and won the highly sought-after trophy. After the World Cup, Henry left Monaco for the large Italian club, Juventus. During hs short time with the club, the striker struggled and transferred to Arsenal in England. At Arsenal Henry made his name known to the world and cemented his legacy in soccer history. In 2001/02 Arsenal became the champions of England with the help of the striker’s sublime goal-scoring abilities. In the 2003/04 season Henry was an integral part of the ‘Invincibles’ team that shocked the soccer world by not losing a single match in a Premier League season. These two Premier league titles, along with becoming Arsenal’s top ever goal scorer, cemented his legacy. In the summer of 2007, Henry transferred to Barcelona where he again saw large success. This included two La Liga titles and a UEFA Champions League trophy. After three seasons playing in Spain, the Frenchman made a surprise move to the United States where he joined MLS side New York Red Bulls. Despite all of the success in his career, Henry never won the Ballon d’Or, but in 2020 he was selected to the Ballon d’Or Dream Team – Bronze Level. Henry is back in the soccer world as he began coaching in 2016 and now is an assistant coach for the Belgium National Team. Henry’s premier rookie sticker is the 1996 Panini Foot which bolsters a bright and vibrant red border which fits perfectly with the Monaco jersey as well as the color of his beloved team, Arsenal. The sticker, which was distributed in France, is difficult to locate with only 34 copies authenticated and graded by PSA. Of the 34, just three are graded a PSA 10. This sticker is one soccer collectors desire to have in their collections!
Do you agree or disagree with our selections? Please feel free to let us know your thoughts by emailing [email protected].
In order for collectors to memorialize their endeavors in finding these seven items, PSA has created a Set Registry set.
If you could replace one item on the list, which soccer item from the Honorable Mention list would take its place?