I read the editor’s piece in the Northants Telegraph last week with great interest.
Because I too was an avid collector of Panini stickers when the World Cup or European Championships came around in my younger years.
I remember meticulously filling in the gaps in my Mexico ’86 sticker book, always gutted if one of them went slightly askew of the given border.
I collected Voller, Socrates, Laudrup, Maradona and of course the England team – including the tournament’s top scorer, Gary Lineker.
I always squealed with delight (I was six years old...) when I got a foily.
A foily was invariably the flag of the nation or the emblem of their football association but as the ‘didn’t-it-always-used-to-be-sunny-in-the-summer’ sun made it shine as I unwrapped the packet I knew I’d struck gold.
Well, foil, but you get my point.
I completed my collection for Italia 90, USA 94 and, of course, Euro 96, but by the time France 98 came along I was far too cool for stickers and the only Panini that I would buy was one stuffed with brie and bacon.
Secretly, though, I’ve always harboured a desire to join the “got... got... need” brigade again and now, ready to enjoy my eighth world cup, one tradition has remained.
The one thing I can’t enjoy a tournament without is my trusty World Cup wallchart.
I’m a stats man – I love numbers, lists, facts and figures and can’t think of anything more exciting during the World Cup than working out all of the permutations of how the groups will finish and who needs to score how many to make it through to the knock-out stage.
Every house I’ve lived in has little circles of off-colour paint on the wall where my chart was once held, its corners now dog-eared and its results a mere footnote in the history of the game.
The fact is, I love the World Cup, and I’ll be glued to every single game!