Sports is easily the most common language that binds people. Men being hunters and gatherers, most take to collecting sports-related knick-knacks. Besides triggering memories and dopamine, they tag in narratives and permeate a smug feeling in the ‘man-caves’. It usually starts with player or factoid trading cards and/or autographs. And there are those who convert this seemingly innocuous passion into a valuable investment.
In the past decade or so, authenticators, insurers, and technology have converged to bolster the business of sports collectibles, amounting to millions of pounds. This being the FIFA World Cup month, we present to you the most expensive World Cup-related sports memorabilia roster.
Such memorabilia are exceedingly sentimental, valuable and rare (think pre-1970), and in some cases, comparable to a top player’s transfer fees.
We commence the list with a British feat.
Alan Ball’s 1966 World Cup Finals Red England Jersey | Price fetched: £51,755; Year of sale: 2010
Midfielder Alan Ball, then 21, was the youngest member when he won the World Cup in 1966 playing for England. He was chosen and celebrated for his work-rate and adaptability by manager Alf Ramsey. And he returned healthy dividends with two assists in Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick. At the end of that 4-2 victory against West Germany, he swapped his strip with another midfielder, Nobby Stiles, who also features in this list.
Pelé’s 1970 first-half World Cup final shirt | Price fetched: £66,500; Year of sale: 2007
When Pele won the 1970 World Cup, he did so for the third time on the trot. The 1970 team, in particular, is rated among the best World Cup squads of all time. On his part, Pele contributed handsomely in 14 of his team’s 19 goals in that tournament, including the opening salvo in the final. During the final, Pele changed his shirt at the half-time mark — a fact that did not remain unnoticed by the potential collectors.
Pelé’s 1958 World Cup final shirt | Price fetched: £70,505; Year of sale: 2004
Pele was 17 years and 239 days — about Class 12 in the Indian education system — when he turned out for Brazil in the World Cup to become the then youngest player at the global event. Scoring four goals in six matches, including a stunning volley in the final, being adjudged the best young player and second-best player of the tournament, Pele proclaimed his presence in no uncertain terms on the world stage.
Ray Wilson’s 1966 World Cup medal | Price fetched: £80,750; Year of sale: 2002
1966 is the only golden year for Brits when it comes to FIFA World Cup. Understandably then, they try to partake as much as possible in it. While Ball was the youngest, Everton-man Ray Wilson, the starting left-back, was the oldest cap in the English squad at 32. He plied his services in every match of the tournament. Despite letting the team concede through his mistake, it obviously did not take a toll in his valuation.
Geoff Hurst’s 1966 World Cup final shirt | Price fetched: £91,750; Year of sale: 2000
Till date, there has been only one hat-trick in a World Cup final and it seems it will stay that way for sometime. It germinated from former West Ham forward, Sir Geoffrey Charles Hurst, MBE. One of those three goals was the controversial did-it-or-did-it-not-cross-the-line header. Needless to say, his calisthenics on the Wembley greens is worth pound for pound.
Gordon Banks’ 1966 World Cup medal | Price fetched: £124,750; Year of sale: 2001
Strictly speaking about World Cup, Gordon Banks will be remembered distinctly for two feats —one of course is the 1966 scalp, the other, ‘that’ save off a Pele header considered the greatest piece of goalkeeping ever executed. Honoured with the OBE, Banks, who made 628 league appearances in his 15-year career and collected 73 international starts, had his career truncated cruelly when he lost an eye in a 1972 car crash.
Pelé’s winner's medal from the 1962 World Cup | Price fetched: £140,800; Year of sale: 2016
2016 was an exciting year when it came to Pele’s FIFA-related collectibles. It was the year when Pele put up quite a few of his prized possessions on the auction block. Frenzied action followed, and it broke quite a few price-points. One of them was the eponymous winner’s medal from the 1962 World Cup.
Pelé’s 1970 World Cup final shirt | Price fetched: £157,750; Year of sale: 2002
That year’s final saw Italy lose to Brazil 1-4. However, Italian defender Roberto Rosato somehow took the best out of the situation. In this particular game, Pele had a change of attire during the break. The first half outfit sold for a neat sum. The shirt earmarked for end-game exchange bettered that. Rosato sprinted specifically to snag Pele’s No 10 and later sold it to rake in moolah. It became the costliest World Cup outfit ever.
Pelé’s 1958 World Cup winner’s medal | Price fetched: £ 200,000; Year of sale: 2016
This final saw the maximum number of goals ever scored in the regulation time of a World Cup when Brazil defeated Sweden by a margin of five goals to two. Pele, for whom it was a maiden appearance, dutifully netted two in the all-important clash. It resulted in the medal garnering at least £60,000 more than its higher estimate.
Alan Ball’s 1966 World Cup medal | Price fetched: £164,800; Year of sale: 2005
The underlying purpose may be a tad sad. Ball parted with his personal memories to secure the financial future of his three children. Out of all the items he put up in his lot, this one realised the maximum.
Pelé’s 1,000th goal tribute crown with book | Price fetched: £162,500; Year of sale: 2016
Conspiracy theorists suggest Pele purposefully played in the goal prior to this match to score his 1000th goal at the Maracana Stadium. Pele, who was a contingent goalie for both Brazil and Santos, brushed it off, saying that the regular one was injured. The auction also included a commemorative crown minted by the Brazilian government to mark the occasion and a book 'Segundo Tempo: De Idolo A Mito' (Segundo Tempo: From Idol to Myth). Incidentally, Pele is the highest overall scorer in football history with 1,281 goals.
Nobby Stiles’ 1966 World Cup winner’s medal | Price fetched: £188,200; Year of sale: 2010
Much like Alan Ball, Stiles exchanged his medal for financial security. Witnesses simply cannot get the image of Stiles breaking into a jig with the coveted trophy in one hand and his dentures in the other, out of their heads. Sales from the proceedings which amounted to £424,438 in all went towards his retirement fund.
Jules Rimet Trophy replica 1966 | Price fetched: £254,500; Year of sale: 1997
If jerseys and medals related to the 1966 win can fetch high prices, how about the trophy (with some considerations)? The replica was crafted by jeweller Dick Bird to proxy for the real deal after the English won it, mainly for the purpose of public display and celebrations. Then, Brazil won the trophy for the third time in 1970, and by diktat, claimed it outright. Bird, who was literally sleeping over it — he kept it below his bed — auctioned it off. Guess who was the buyer? FIFA; perhaps they found it difficult to entirely let go. It can be seen on display at the Nation Football Museum in Manchester. Though it’s third on the list, if adjusted for inflation, it might be the priciest FIFA keepsake there is.
Pelé’s 1970 World Cup winner’s medal | Price fetched: £280,000; Year of sale: 2016
It is no rocket science that Pele’s medal should generate more interest than his jerseys, both halves considered. 1970 was Pele’s last World Cup appearance. The resultant price for the medal became a world record in itself.
Pelé’s 1970 Jules Rimet Trophy replica | Price fetched: £395 000; Year of sale: 2016
The 2016 auction of Pele’s personal collections, comprising 2000 items, took place over three days. The euphoria aptly climaxed on its conclusion. The Jules Rimet Trophy replica bore an estimate of £281,000 to £420,000. The mysteries of the actual Jules Rimet Trophy being lost and found certainly shored up the interest. “I hope they treasure these artefacts and share my story with their children and generations to come," Pelé is reported to have said, when he decided to the auction, so that fans could own a piece of his history.
Updated Date: Jul 13, 2018 17:11 PM