Be a World Cup Winner! How to make money from a sporting passion, by collecting the best memorabilia


Glory: Geoff Hurst’s England shirt sold for £91,750 in 2000, 34 years after his World Cup triumph

Glory: Geoff Hurst’s England shirt sold for £91,750 in 2000, 34 years after his World Cup triumph

Glory: Geoff Hurst’s England shirt sold for £91,750 in 2000, 34 years after his World Cup triumph

The nation’s excitement is building after last night’s UEFA Champions League Final between Liverpool and Real Madrid and next month’s World Cup in Russia is drawing closer. England has a chance – in theory at least – of walking off with the trophy.

Here, The Mail on Sunday looks at how – irrespective of what happens on the pitch – it is still possible to score by investing in related collectables.


The only time England tasted World Cup glory was way back in 1966, but it still holds a magical allure investors cannot resist.

The 4-2 win against West Germany in extra time at Wembley turned this into the blue-chip investment tournament. Graham Budd runs sports trader Graham Budd Auctions in Palmers Green, North London. He says: ‘Football is the world’s most popular sport – and its pinnacle is the World Cup. With the coming finals in Russian, the value of memorabilia should rise as football fever grips. The best-selling World Cup items are still from 1966.’

Programmes from the 1966 final are still relatively plentiful, selling for less than £100. But surviving ticket stubs are rarer and can go for £200. The mascot for the 1966 finals was World Cup Willie. A drawing of the mascot, hand coloured and signed by artist Reg Hoye, sold for £300 through auctioneer Sportingold in December last year. A cuddly toy Willie can command a price of £100.

One-off World Cup items have soared in value most in recent years. In 2000, hat-trick hero Sir Geoff Hurst sold his England shirt for £91,750. If on the market today it would be expected to sell for nearer to £500,000.

A World Cup winner’s medal belonging to Nobby Stiles fetched £184,000 in 2010 while one that belonged to goalkeeper Gordon Banks sold for £114,000 when it was sold in 2001.


The first World Cup tournament was held in 1930 in Uruguay. It was won by the host nation who beat Argentina 4-2 in the final. A collection of 1930 World Cup memorabilia – including a brass replica of the trophy presented to the winners, commemorative medals and some old tickets – went under the hammer at Graham Budd Auctions last Tuesday. They fetched £4,400. Three final tickets sold for £340.

The World Cup trophy

The World Cup trophy

The mascot for the 1966 finals, World Cup Willie

The mascot for the 1966 finals, World Cup Willie

The World Cup trophy (left) and the mascot for the 1966 finals, World Cup Willie (right)

A 1930 World Cup poster designed by Guillermo Laborde previously sold for £4,500 while a winner’s medal presented to Uruguay captain Jose Nasazzi has been valued at £30,000.

Among other pieces offered for sale by Budd was a 1934 World Cup presentation plate commissioned by the Italian Football Association which hosted the event. It includes the flags of all 16 competing nations in the tournament which Italy won. The £15,000 estimate was not reached.

England did not join the World Cup until 1950. We were promptly knocked out by the United States in the first round 1-0. Programmes from this World Cup now sell for £500 while a set of ten tickets – including the final where Uruguay beat the hosts Brazil – might go for £700.

Memorabilia from early international matches outside the World Cup can be highly collectable. A programme from the 1926 England verses Scotland match at Old Trafford sold for £800 last December at a Sportingold auction. In the same sale a 1914 programme for an England verses Ireland match at Middlesbrough sold for £1,000.

Stick with the (valuable) programme 

All 72 clubs in the English Football League are meeting up next month to decide whether selling match-day programmes should remain mandatory. It could trigger the slow death of the football programme but historic examples will still command big prices.

For example, a single sheet programme for the 1882 FA Cup final between Old Etonians and Blackburn Rovers sold for a record £35,250 in 2013.

The previous record price for a programme was £20,000 for a Manchester United versus Bristol City FA Cup final 1909 ‘match card’ that sold in 2012. The Red Devils won 1-0.

Programme dealer and collector Chris Williams has been a Manchester City fan for more than half a century. The 64-year-old has collected every home programme over that time. But he warns: ‘You should not buy modern programmes as an investor – but as a fan.’

Collectible: Chris Williams, of Sportingold, with a 1924 programme

Collectible: Chris Williams, of Sportingold, with a 1924 programme

Collectible: Chris Williams, of Sportingold, with a 1924 programme

Williams is the High Wycombe-based owner of auctioneer Sportingold in Buckinghamshire. He points out the first programmes were cards. Some of the first were printed by Everton. A match card for an 1889 Everton game against now extinct club Notts Rangers sold last year for £1,100.

Williams says: ‘The FA Cup was what mattered in the early years. It is a far cry from the modern era where league survival is more important.’

The 1915 FA Cup ‘khaki’ final between Chelsea and Sheffield United at Old Trafford – so-called as most of the people in the crowd were soldiers on leave – is perhaps the most famous. Programmes from this match can fetch £10,000. It was the last match played for four years because the football league was suspended due to the war.

Manchester United’s programmes are the most collectable. A single-sheet team selection when the Red Devils played Walsall in 1890 at The Chuckery before Old Trafford had even been built – cost 1d on the day. It is now worth £10,000. Williams says: ‘When it comes to the inter-war years the London club whose programmes are worth the most is West Ham. The East End was severely bombed during the Second World War and collections were often destroyed.’

One of the most tragic episodes in football was the 1958 Munich air disaster when eight ‘Busby Babes’ were killed. Programmes of the next – cancelled – game can change hands for up to £10,000.


The World Cup often transforms talented footballers into international soccer stars. A football shirt worn by one of these players in a key match can prove a shrewd investment. The biggest footballing name remains Pelé. A shirt worn by the Brazilian legend in the 1970 World Cup final in Mexico sold for £157,000 in 2002. During the first half of the same game he wore a different top, which sold for £66,500 in 2007. 

Brazil beat Italy in this World Cup final 4-1 and Pelé scored the first goal. A top worn by the footballer when he was 17 and scoring in his first World Cup final in 1958 sold for £70,505 in 2004. 

Another footballing great – whose ‘hand of God’ goal knocked England out of the World Cup quarter final in 1986 – is Argentinian striker Diego Maradona. The shirt he wore in this match was swapped at the end with English midfielder Steve Hodge. Teammate Terry Butcher earlier declined the swap stating: ‘I would not even clean my car with it.’ The shirt has since been valued at £200,000.

It is not just the shirts of exciting forwards that are collectable. The West German centre-back Franz Beckenbauer was known as ‘Der Kaiser’ and captained his team to World Cup victory in 1974.

He managed West Germany to World Cup success in 1990, just months before it reunified with East Germany. In 2014, his shirt from the 1966 World Cup semi-final that he gave to a local policeman sold for £5,000.

Every match of the World Cup will be available to watch for free and live on terrestrial television

Every match of the World Cup will be available to watch for free and live on terrestrial television

Every match of the World Cup will be available to watch for free and live on terrestrial television


1. One of the boots worn by German midfielder Mario Gotze when he scored the winning goal in the World Cup final against Argentina in 2014 later sold for £1.57 million.

2. A 1968 European Cup winner’s medal presented to Manchester United striker George Best fetched £156,000.

3. A World Cup winning medal for 1966 belonging to England captain Bobby Moore sold for £150,000.

4. Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho celebrated clinching the Premier League title in 2006 by hurling two winner’s medals into the crowd. One later fetched £21,600.

5. A programme for the 1882 FA Cup Final between Old Etonians and Blackburn Rovers sold for £35,250 in 2013.

In the 1990 World Cup, West Germany beat England on penalties in the semi-final. English player Paul Gascoigne was reduced to tears when booked – fearing he would miss the final if England went on to win. The signed shirt worn by Gascoigne in this game sold for £28,680 in 2004.

Among the World Cup highlights at Graham Budd Auctions last week was a Lionel Messi Argentinian shirt. It was worn against Colombia in November 2016 – when Messi scored in a qualifier that helped get his team to this year’s World Cup finals. The shirt was sold for £3,000.

Replica signed shirts and balls are made to make money from a soccer star – they are not part of football history. A replica shirt signed by Maradona can sell for £150 but will not rise much in value as he has signed hundreds over the years.

Forgery is rife in the replica industry. Tom Meyrick, of online trader JustCollecting, says: ‘When buying ensure you are using a reputable dealer.

‘Avoid peer-to-peer websites such as eBay as rogue sellers are rife and items are easily sold with no paper trail or proof of legitimacy.

The autograph league of game field superstars

1. Babe Ruth (below) Baseball. £3,000

2. Michael Jordan. Basketball. £400

3. WG Grace. Cricket. £300

4. Pelé. Football. £200

4. Muhammad Ali. Boxing. £200

4. Wayne Gretzky. Ice Hockey. £200

4. Tiger Woods. Golf. £200

8. Diego Maradona. Football. £125

9. Lionel Messi. Football. £100

9. Cristiano Ronaldo. Football. £100

‘Look for sellers that offer money- back guarantees of authenticity with a proven track record of dealing in footballing memorabilia.’


Football fans tempted to warm up for Russia by investing in World Cup Panini stickers should be wary that the hobby costs hundreds of pounds.

Professor Paul Harper, of the School of Mathematics at Cardiff University, has calculated that successfully filling an album costs on average £774.

This is the price you must pay – using mathematical laws of probability – to collect all 682 stickers required to fill a book.

He calculates you will end up buying at least 967 packets of five for 80p each – leaving 4,150 duplicate stickers.

Harper says: ‘To begin with, the experience can be rewarding but when it comes to finding the last few stickers to complete the album the odds of success fall dramatically. To collect the last 19 missing stickers alone you will need to buy perhaps 483 more packets of stickers.’

If you always got the right stickers you would still have to buy 137 packs costing a total of £109. Fortunately, for those getting towards the end of their collection Panini will sell up to 50 individual missing stickers at a cost of 22p each.


Every match of the World Cup will be available to watch for free and live on terrestrial television. The first game between host Russia and Saudi Arabia kicks off on June 14, at 4pm. It will be on ITV. The first England match will be on June 18 at 7pm against Tunisia and will be on the BBC.

The Three Lions’ next match, against Panama, is on June 24 at 1pm on the BBC. The final group match for England – which could decide if they qualify for the knock- out stage – is against Belgium and is on Thursday, June 28, at 7pm on ITV.

The World Cup final will be shown on both BBC and ITV at 4pm, Sunday July 15.



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