Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Panini Odyssey Part 1: We're Off!


Panini, Panini, Panini.... Panini, PANINI!

For a lot of people, that word does not equal "sandwich".  For us football loving chaps, Panini evokes childhood memories of swapsies, shinies and mullets.  For every World Cup year a wondrous booklet is launched onto this very Earth which contains hopes and dreams and much much more.  It is of course the Panini Group's Official Licensed World Cup Sticker Album.

The premise is simple.  Buy the sticker book, packed with statistics and facts to keep your average football obsessed lad occupied, buy packets of stickers to be put into the album, stick 'em in.  There are stickers of players, crests, squads, stadia, everything related to the World Cup.  It is a great way to get to know all about the tournament, and best of all it helps you familiarise yourself with the most obscure Slovenian midfield enforcers and Honduran reserve goalkeepers.

As a football crazy youngster, I loved the idea of completing the album but never managed to do so.  It took a lot of effort and scrounging from family friends, begging them to look out for any rare stickers and save them for me.  I would spend many a lunch time trading duplicate stickers with school friends and enemies, adhering to the strict rules like a "shiny" sticker being equal to two player stickers.  I loved poring over the details of the venues and comparing how ugly the different Eastern European squads were.  After a few months, however, I would naturally get  distracted by a new rope swing and my once-loved album would begin to gather dust, never to experience the joy of Carlos Valderrama being added to its vaunted arsenal.

Today, I found a link to pictures of the completed Italia '90 sticker album.  Glory glory glory, it is beautiful.  I struggled to decide which is the ugliest team.  I am going for USSR, what do you think?

Well, this year I am going to make amends for my previous failures.  I can't promise that a rope swing won't distract me but I am determined like never before to finish the 2010 Panini World Cup sticker album.  I will find the official Mascot sticker.  I vow to possess the North Korean striker Hong Yong-Jo.  Nothing will stand in my way.  By fair means of foul, I... will... do it, and I will document my mission right here on Hi diddly dee...

My album and I.
Last Saturday (17th April), I saw an advert for this year's sticker album featuring ITV's much-disliked commentator Clive Tyldesley waxing lyrical about the fun and frolics to be had completing the book.  I gritted my teeth, clenched my fists and became determined to win.  So that afternoon I visited my local high street newsagent and purchased my album.  To my unbounded joy, I was informed by the beautiful typeface that the album came with 21 stickers to start my collection.  When I got home, eager to tear the transparent plastic bag asunder to get to the football themed delights, I saw another advert on the TV, one that made me dance a jig.  It turns out that none-other than the Big Dog, Lowestoft's favourite son, the king of UK Hip-Hop Tim Westwood was advertising the News of the World's Panini sticker album give away.  If he is in it with me and expressing his excitement in such eloquent tones then I know that I am in good company:

Inside my album, I perused the layout and noted some potential rarities (a space split into two stickers for the "Official Logotype" is bound to be in-demand).

The album and free sticker packs.

With the album came six stickers:

#580: Fernando Torres, ESP.
#43: Steven Pienaar, RSA.
#116: Javier Mascherano, ARG.
#186: Rio Ferdinand, ENG.
#325: Michael Essian, GHA.
#542: Didier Drogba, CIV.

In addition, 3 packs of five were included:

#97: Alou Diarra, FRA.
#100: Franck RIbery, FRA.
#92: Eric Abidal, FRA.
#580: Fernando Torres, ESP (my first swapsie).
#320: Eric Addo, GHA.
#111: Walter Samuel, ARG.
#146: Lee Woon-Jae, KOR.
#79: Sebastian Eguren, URU.
#123: Diego Milito, ARG.
#503: Luis Fabiano, BRA.
#327: Sulley Muntari, GHA.
#456: Andrew Boyens, NZL.
#363: Daniel Jensen, DEN.
#119: Angel di Maria, ARG.
#281: Lucas Neill, AUS.

So far no fabled shinies, and one duplicate, Torres.  My favourite one was probably Lee Woon-Jae, because of his age (born 26-4-1973) and fetching jersey.  My least favourite was Angel di Maria.  He looks shifty.

Today, I bought 2 more packs of five from a friendly newsagent who was clearly puzzled by my interest in the stickers.  To my utter delight, I found two shinies in amongst my new additions:

#4: World Cup Logo, shiny.
#373: Japan Emblem, shiny.
#97: Alou Diarra, FRA (swapsie).
#605: Victor Bernandez, HON.
#569: Joan Capdevila, ESP.
#560: Liedson, POR.
#342: Mark van Bommel, NED.
#255: Valter Birsa, SVN.
#228: Hassan Yebda, ALG.
#45: Thembinkosi Fanteni, RSA.

My first two shinies.

A good mix.  One duplicate (always useful for inevitable having to negotiate big deals with fellow collectors) and those all important shiny stickers.  My favourite is obviously my first shiny, the Japanese Emblem.  My least favourite is Liedson, because of his pretty horrible hair.

Stay tuned to see what the next set of stickers holds.  If anyone out there should happen to come into the possession of some unwanted stickers, please let me know via here or on Twitter (@El_Nacnud).  Or else if you are interested in doing some swapsies then do give me a shout.  I have a spare Torres and Diarra waiting for a good home.

In the words of Westwood.  Pow!


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