One of the pivotal moments of my life happened in Barcelona. It was 2001 and I was drinking cheap cava in a hillside terrace bar overlooking the city. Dusk fell and the cityscape turned sparkly. I had a job I hated for a dotcom startup in London and I was on a football tour in the Catalan capital.

“Why don’t I just quit my job and come and live here? It’s got sun, sand and sexy football – what more could you want?” I asked.

Five months later I’d left everything behind to move to Barcelona to play, watch and teach people how to talk about football. Some of my friends were incredulous. They said: “You’re just going out there for the experience. Why would you do that?”

Fast forward to 2018. I’m reading an article written by the founder of Airbnb, Brian Chesky. He’s talks about how his company have been able to create a trust platform, unlocking the spaces left vacant in people’s spare rooms and empty houses. Their next step, he explains is to create 100 million entrepreneurs, unlocking the potential not of spaces but of people. “We’re creating Airbnb experiences where people all over the world offer their talents, skills and knowledge to others to buy as they travel. Hidden city tours, salsa classes, art history lessons, Airbnb can use its trust platform to put consumers together with suppliers,” Chesky says.

Now, what that got to do with memorabilia?

Well, firstly, if we can bring memorabilia together with memories, we are tapping into what Generation XP want more than anything: stories to tell. At Icons, we have access to the world’s biggest superstar footballers and we can get to the world’s greatest sporting events. Hey, it’s why I do what I do.

So, this month we’re launching Icons XP with the tagline ‘Experience The World’s Best’. As with lots of these ideas, we start in Barcelona. Icons now have a private corporate box at Camp Nou. If you love Leo Messi, you can now buy Experience Memorabilia package from Icons.com and be our guests at his next game to see him play in the flesh. We were in the box for the Joan Gamper Trophy earlier in the year and the little magician we love so much scored right in front of us. Imagine watching El Clasico or a UEFA Champions League semi-final and seeing Leo, Luis Suarez or Philippe Coutinho doing something truly iconic? Maybe we can even get them to pop into the box after the match to say hello… we’re working on it.

Now wouldn’t that would be an iconic experience?

While it starts with Barcelona it most certainly does not end there. Icons are co-promoting a speaker tour that brings Manchester United legend Eric Cantona to London, Manchester and Ireland throughout October. Icons founder Edward Freedman worked with Eric at United and, in fact, Cantona was the first player he got to sign shirts, making him the very first on a long and ever expanding list of Icons. For Eric’s tour, Icons XP is offering VIP and VVIP tickets that allows fans to come backstage to meet Eric himself. When we did this two years ago a grown man fainted upon meeting Le God. That’s what it means to our customers.

Memories plus memorabilia. That has a nice ring to it, I think.

If we can bring fans closer to their heroes through events, tickets, boxes or meets and greets, we will. Our roster comprises the biggest names in sport and we have a reputation for running the best competitions and giveaways for money-can’t-buy prizes. If The FC Barcelona Experience and Eric Cantona Live work, we’ll expand, offering more and more experiences to our customers. Maybe we can even put together those experiences in cities around the world with Airbnb’s local experts. A Diego Maradona tour around Boca in Buenos Aires, for example. Maybe a Steven Gerrard framed memento from a trip to Anfield or a native New Yorker talking you through the iconic nights of Madison Square Gardens.

Icons XP is a new way to get closer to your heroes. And we couldn’t be more excited to bring it to you. See you in Barcelona soon.


  • FC Barcelona Experience Memorabilia packages are available for matches throughout FC Barcelona’s 2018/19 campaign, including the world-famous El Clasico derby plus crucial La Liga clashes, thrilling Copa Del Rey ties and, of course, those epic UEFA Champions League nights. Contact [email protected] for prices, match availability and further information.
  • Eric Cantona kicks off his UK speaker tour on October 24th with a show at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. VIP and VVIP tickets are available for all dates. Click here for more information.