Tag: Ballon d’Or

Football’s back! Six unmissable storylines to look out for in 2017-18

At last, it’s back! The real football has returned! From now until late May of next year, it’s non-stop, full-on, unadulterated football and we at Icons.com could not be more excited.

After all, this season has the potential to be bigger, better and more exciting than ever. And not just in England. Let’s not forget the thrills that await around the continent; in Spain, Germany, Italy and France, where the best footballers on the planet do battle in front of the biggest crowds for the right to claim the world’s most coveted prizes.

In fact, with so much going on around the world on the opening weekend of the season, you could be forgiven for not knowing where to start or what to look out for. Well, it’s lucky we’re here then, isn’t it? Here are six things you need to keep an eye on this season.

 

1. Bem-vindo Neymar Jr

So, it actually happened. With Neymar Jr’s switch from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for €222million, world football’s transfer record has been broken by a factor of two. Our office stopped in its tracks to watch – perhaps a little out of disbelief – as the mercurial Brazilian forward was presented in front of the world’s media last week. With a glitzy unveiling in front of a sell-out crowd days later, the Parc de Princes has had more than a little Hollywood about it over the past month.

This season the 25-year-old will surely set his sights not only on a sweep of the domestic titles on offer at his new club but also a shot at one or both of the two individual honours that would certify his superstar status: the Ballon D’or and FIFA’s The Best Award. Will the football gods also write a mouthwatering script that reunites him with Barça in the UEFA Champions League? It may be time to start warming those balls…

 

2. The main event

Speaking of the UEFA Champions League, this season’s race for club football’s most sought-after prize promises to be as thrilling as ever. Real Madrid made history at the end of last season as they became the first team to successfully defend their title but Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo aren’t quite content with just two-in-a-row. The Spanish champions have won the famous tournament in three of the last four years and they’ve developed a taste for success.

Meanwhile, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United are back, adding three previous winners and two of the competition’s most storied teams to the mix. Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho have a great knack of inspiring magic on European nights but can the trophy really return to the North West as early as this season?

Not if the rest of Europe has something to say about it. A certain aforementioned Brazilian seems dead-set on making his mark at PSG but to get to Kiev they may have to return to the scene of last season’s most remarkable tie: Camp Nou. All this while Carlo Ancelotti plots Bayern Munich’s return to the European throne and Gianluigi Buffon prays for one last shot at the trophy that has always eluded him.

As an official UEFA licensee, Icons.com is the proud home of official UEFA Champions League signed memorabilia.

 

3. A six-horse race

The Premier League is getting stronger in competitive terms, there’s no doubt about that. Almost all of the world’s best managers are taking charge of talented, hungry and exciting teams in England’s topflight and that means the title could go almost anywhere.

In Manchester, Pep Guardiola is building an attack-minded team at City with the signing of Monaco’s Bernardo Silva to add to Sergio Aguero’s goals, while United have a new hitman in the form of Romelu Lukaku. Liverpool are still a side of pure pace up front and should be an entertaining watch considering their attacking prowess.

Meanwhile, in London, Antonio Conte has one of the world’s most exciting attacking midfielders in Eden Hazard and Mauricio Pochettino will just be happy that both Harry Kane and Dele Alli (see below) have gone the summer without their heads being turned. Arch-rivals Arsenal have satisfied the wishes of their fans with the purchase of Alexandre Lacazette and the retention of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil (at the time of writing, anyway). So, who exactly is supposed to be the frontrunner here?

Find out who we fancy to come out on top in our special 2017-18 season predictions blog.

 

4. Dele’s big year

The breakout season is history, the sophomore slump was nowhere to be seen. Now the most exciting young talent at both Tottenham Hotspur and England can stretch his legs and really show us what he’s got. Gunning for a hat-trick of PFA Young Player of the Year awards – and perhaps the main gong too – Dele Alli faces a season of much promise.

Playing in front of potentially 90,000 fans at Spurs’ temporary home of Wembley Stadium won’t faze the England regular, nor will the prospect of a second season in the UEFA Champions League group stages. In fact, knowing the boy-wonder personally from our signing sessions, we’re not sure exactly what could faze him, if anything. Here is a confident 21-year-old who has the world at his feet. Which reminds us, isn’t there some sort of big international tournament coming soon?

We are immensely proud to have an official contract with Tottenham and England sensation Dele Alli. For exclusive signed products, visit Icons.com today.

 

5. All the world’s a stage

Ah, yes, the FIFA World Cup. Next summer sees the return of the biggest football tournament on the planet and with potentially one last chance at winning that most coveted trophy, the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will be desperate to deliver glory to their respective countries. Neymar Jr, Philippe Coutinho, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Dele Alli will be among the young but established stars hoping to capture the world’s attention and with the talent on offer it promises to be a tournament full of drama.

Whisper it but England look to be stronger than in recent years with Wayne Rooney surely determined to bow out of international football on a high alongside a stellar mix of young and experienced players mostly plying their trade in the Premier League.

Capture the spirit and excitement of the FIFA World Cup with officially-licensed FIFA World Cup signed memorabilia, exclusive to Icons.com.

 

6. La Liga’s on a knife-edge

Madridistas could be forgiven for still being a little hungover when their domestic season starts with a Supercopa Clasico on Sunday evening. Last season, Real won their first league title since 2012 and became the first team in history to retain the UEFA Champions League. Their supremacy is currently unquestioned but this season their hated rivals will want revenge.

Lionel Messi’s ultra dramatic, last-gasp winner in the sides’ pulsating encounter at the Bernabeu merely fanned the flames that could well spark all-out war this term. Barça haven’t experienced for years the upheaval they’ve suffered over the past few months with Neymar Jr gone and now a new man at the helm. Who knows how Ernesto Valverde plans to stop the Zidane juggernaut?

 

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WIN a Cristiano Ronaldo Signed Nike Boot with FOOTY.COM

Video via FOOTY.COM on Facebook

After a stellar 2016 in which he not only won the UEFA Champions League for a third time but also inspired a first ever major trophy as the captain of his country AND bagged a fourth Ballon d’Or, Cristiano Ronaldo‘s standing as the best player in world football became less of a debate and more of a cold, hard fact.

We at Icons.com love us some CR7. So much so, in fact, that we’ve been working closely with the global phenomenon for over a decade. A Sporting Lisbon legend, a Manchester United hero, a Real Madrid superstar – however you choose to view his career, Ronaldo remains one of our most popular icons.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with our friends at FOOTY.COM to offer the ultimate giveaway for Cristiano fans.

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That’s right, this week we’re offering you the chance to win a Cristiano Ronaldo signed Nike Mercurial Victory VI boot.

Throwing your hat in the ring for this spectacular prize couldn’t be easier. Just head over to FOOTY.COM, pop in your name and email address and you’re in. The competition ends on Sunday March 12th at midnight (GMT) so enter now before it’s too late!

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Memorabilia signed by Cristiano Ronaldo



Leo Messi: Ten Years An Icon

Lionel-Messi-Signing-Session-Icons

Title after title, honour after honour, record after record, Barcelona and Argentina superstar Leo Messi has written his way into the history books as one of the greatest to ever play the game. In that space of time, Messi has won four Champions Leagues, seven La Liga titles, three Spanish Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups, among various other honours. Add to that his four straight Ballon d’Or awards between 2009 and 2012 and countless golden boots.

In 2014-15, the 28-year-old teamed up with Luis Suarez and Neymar Jr to form the world’s most deadly attacking trio. Together they claimed the treble with Barcelona, culminating in a 3-1 defeat of Juventus in a typically ruthless display at the showpiece Champions League final in Berlin. It was a fitting way for Messi to mark ten years in the red and blue of Barcelona.

Having made his debut for the club back in October 2004, he was soon showing fans the sort of flair that would come to exemplify his electric playing style. The 2005-06 season would be Messi’s breakthrough year, as he played a significant role in Barcelona’s league and Champions League double. Records would soon tumble, as Messi emerged as the club’s most talented young star. The world at large began to notice his immeasurable talent in the 2006-07 season after he scored a number of marvellous goals, including an incredible solo effort against Getafe at the Camp Nou.

Barca were Champions League winners again in 2009, with Messi scoring the second goal in a 2-0 defeat of Manchester United in Rome. By now the world was in awe of Messi and his Barcelona teammates Xavi and Andres Iniesta. It was also to be the year that Messi would win his first of four consecutive Ballon d’Ors. A year later he would equal Ronaldo’s record for league goals in a single season as Barca secured the second of what would be three back-to-back La Liga titles.

But many will argue that 2010-11 was the ultimate season for Messi and Barcelona. Under Pep Guardiola, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, David Villa and co. added to their league title with a third Champions League triumph in six years. Their Wembley coronation came after another defeat of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United and, just as in 2009, Messi was on hand to score a vital goal – a swerving shot from just outside the box that bamboozled United keeper Edwin van der Sar and put Barcelona 2-1 up.

In 2011-12 Messi became Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer, amassing more goals than Cesar Rodriguez’s 232 following a superb hat-trick against Granada. It came just two days after he’d scored five in one match against Bayer Leverkusen in a remarkable Champions League victory. He ended 2012 with a record for most goals in a calendar year, having notched 91 for club and country, eclipsing Gerd Muller’s long-established benchmark of 85.

As of last season, Leo was showing little sign of slowing down, having finally overtaken Raul to become the Champions League’s all-time leading goalscorer and surpassing Telmo Zarra’s mark as La Liga’s most prolific marksman. Thanks in no small part to the explosive and unstoppable front three of Messi, Suarez and Neymar Jr, Barcelona swept aside all before them to complete their second ever treble-winning campaign.

At the time of writing, Messi has accumulated 24 club titles, 412 goals in 482 games for Barcelona and is just ten shy of becoming Argentina’s all-time topscorer. Whatever the future holds for this mercurial genius, Leo Messi has in a single decade broken more records and won more honours and awards than almost any other footballer in the history of the sport.

We at Icons are immensely proud to be celebrating ten years of signings with Leo Messi. Every piece of official Messi-signed merchandise is created under license by Icons Shop Ltd and now comes with an official Messi signed merchandise Certificate of Authenticity, which carries an image of Leo signing the product line.

The full range is exclusively available on Icons.com.


Memorabilia signed by Messi



Congratulations Cristiano Ronaldo: 2014 FIFA Ballon d’Or Winner!

Huge congratulations from all at Icons to the one and only Cristiano Ronaldo – official FIFA Ballon d’Or 2014 winner! 69 goals in 2013 saw the Portuguese superstar rocket to victory, pipping Leo Messi and Bayern Munich wide man Franck Ribery to the prestigious award at a ceremony in Zurich last night.

Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo delivers a speech after receiving the 2013 FIFA Ballon d'Or award for player of the year during the FIFA Ballon d'Or award ceremony at the Kongresshaus in Zurich on January 13, 2014.  AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN        (Photo credit should read OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Real Madrid’s Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo delivers a speech after receiving the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or award for player of the year during the FIFA Ballon d’Or award ceremony at the Kongresshaus in Zurich on January 13, 2014. AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN (Photo credit should read OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Ronaldo was overcome with emotion onstage accepting the prize. “It means a lot to win this after Eusébio‘s passing,” he said. “I dedicate this award to him and my team-mates. He was watching from the skies to see this great moment for a Portuguese player. When I saw my mum crying it made me cry as well. I’m an emotional person. It is very difficult to win this award.”

2014 will be Icons’ tenth year working with Cristiano. For the best in CR7 signed memorabilia, look no further than Icons.

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Memorabilia signed by Cristiano Ronaldo



Why We Love The Race For This Year’s FIFA Ballon d’Or, The Closest Ever

No matter who eventually wins the FIFA Ballon d’Or award this January, one thing’s for sure – this year’s player of the year award will surely be remembered as the hardest ever to call. Each of the three players named in an announcement yesterday as up for the prestigious award – Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery – can reflect on incredible years and nigh-impossible feats for their respective clubs. But who will win?

(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between Franck Ribery (L), Lionel Messi (C) and Cristiano Ronaldo (R). All three players have been short listed for the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2013, the winner of the award will be revealed at the FIFA Ballon dOr gala in Zurich on January 13, 2014. ***LEFT IMAGE*** AUGUST 01: Franck Ribery of Muenchen controls the ball during the Audi Cup Final match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Manchester City at Allianz Arena on August 1, 2013 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images) ***CENTRE IMAGE*** NOVEMBER 01: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona runs with the ball during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou on November 1, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images) ***RIGHT IMAGE*** SEPTEMBER 28: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF runs with the ball during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Club Atletico de Madrid at Bernabeu on September 28, 2013 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between Franck Ribery (L), Lionel Messi (C) and Cristiano Ronaldo (R). All three players have been short listed for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2013, the winner of the award will be revealed at the FIFA Ballon dOr gala in Zurich on January 13, 2014. ***LEFT IMAGE*** AUGUST 01: Franck Ribery of Muenchen controls the ball during the Audi Cup Final match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Manchester City at Allianz Arena on August 1, 2013 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images) ***CENTRE IMAGE*** NOVEMBER 01: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona runs with the ball during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou on November 1, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images) ***RIGHT IMAGE*** SEPTEMBER 28: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF runs with the ball during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Club Atletico de Madrid at Bernabeu on September 28, 2013 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Barcelona superstar Leo Messi spent the first half of 2013 reclaiming the La Liga title back from Real Madrid‘s grip. The second half he spent establishing a dominant lead at the top of the Spanish league for the Catalan giants, with the club presently only one point away from their best start to a campaign ever. It says a lot about the calibre of player Messi is that, owing to a hamstring complaint that has persisted since the end of the last season, cutting the Argentine’s game time down significantly, pundits are describing him as “only” having scored 46 goals in 2013 – a number “disappointing” only by his unfathomably high standards, forged by his feats in 2012, a year where he scored a record breaking 91 goals. By any other standards, his achievements in 2013 are stunning.

Cristiano Ronaldo meanwhile can reflect on a year easily summed up in one match. Last month’s Portgual vs Sweden second leg qualifier showed the Madrid maestro as the unplayable player he has become in 2013 – a player able to take a game by the scruff of the neck and power through defences to an almost single-handed win. In 48 appearances to date this year for Madrid, he has made a combined 78 goals and assists, striking up a winner partnership with new team mate Gareth Bale. A curious stat that’s telling sign of his current brilliance – following his goalscoring feats in 2013, CR7 has now scored in every minute apart from the 47th. Should be grab a goal in the 47th minute of any match before he retires now, he’ll become the first player in history to score in every single minute of the 90.

Franck Ribery is the race’s dark horse but not to be dismissed. Winning the UEFA Champions League with Bayern Munich, starring against Borussia Dortmund in a captivating final, undoubtedly promoted him into the pantheon of current superstars of the game, alongside Messi and Ronaldo. Bayern have emerged in 2013 as the game’s current dominant domestic force, breaking countless records in the Bundesliga and sweeping aside competition in Europe. Ribery, with his nimble footwork and direct play, is to be heavily credited with that. Some pundits predict that, with Messi and Ronaldo having won the trophy already, those in charge of deciding the Ballon d’Or winner may want to give the prize to new blood. We’ll find out for certain in January. In the meantime, be sure to check out signed memorabilia from Cristiano and Messi, available from Icons today in time for Christmas.

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