Category: Miscellaneous

Icons CEO Instrumental In Bringing Fraudsters To Justice

Icons Shop Limited CEO, Dan Jamieson, and former head of A1 Sporting Memorabilia, Terry Baker, played key roles in the jailing of David Rennie from FA Premier Signings for the sale of faked signatures.

As one of three expert witnesses during the trial, Dan brought forth his expertise in the signatures of many of sport’s biggest stars and his vast experience in the memorabilia industry. He described the lengths Icons goes to in order to acquire authentic signed memorabilia from the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pele, Diego Maradona and many others.

Dan also detailed the various ways Icons provides its customers with proof of the authenticity of a signed product. He explained that Icons strives to offer all available proof of an item being signed using photos and video, as well as key details such as when and where our signing sessions take place.

In doing so, he helped prove that the people behind FA Premier Signings were faking signatures and misleading the thousands of sports fans who had bought items from their website.

Also key in bringing Rennie to justice was Terry Baker, the man from whom Icons Shop Limited acquired its sister brand, A1 Sporting Memorabilia, in 2015. Baker has worked closely with the Icons team for a number of years.

Icons Shop Limited remains staunchly committed to the protection of the sports memorabilia industry from the litany of fakes and frauds that threaten to ruin the reputations of genuine memorabilia dealers.

We continue to work with trading standards agencies and other memorabilia outlets in the fight against such fraudsters. We strongly advise our customers – and any sports fans wishing to buy genuine signed sports memorabilia – to be diligent in their assessment of memorabilia sold online.

 

For more information on how to avoid fakes and frauds, please see our previous blog post “How To Buy A Genuine Lionel Messi Signed Shirt”.



From Our CEO: Authenticity Is Everything

The dictionary definition of authenticity is “not false or copied; genuine, real” and I spend every minute of every day worrying about it.

Why? Because I run the world’s leading signed football memorabilia company, Icons Shop Limited, and we constantly need to reassure our customers that our items are genuine. If Icons sold one fake signature we would pretty much go bankrupt overnight with our reputation in tatters. Living on that knife-edge does focus the mind somewhat.

At Icons, we go to extraordinary lengths to provide evidence of our authenticity. We have long-standing relationships with some of the greats of world football, including contracts with Leo Messi and Diego Maradona. We are the official memorabilia licensee of the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Champions League. We provide a Certificate of Authenticity with all our products, along with photographic proof, holograms and videos of private signing sessions with the top stars.

Yet every day we’re asked if our products are really signed by the players. It seems all the facts on our website are often not enough. People regularly call and email us to express their concerns – they want to be reassured that they can trust us and from our side it becomes about engaging with them on an emotional level.

One of the things today’s digital marketers do is create ongoing dialogue between brands and their audiences. Traditional advertising shouts a consistent message with a megaphone while a smart brand strikes up a two-way conversation. Consumers want to know more about the products, causes and companies to which they choose to give their money. They’re looking for an emotional connection and digital marketing can bring this to life.

It’s also made me think about authenticity on a personal level. My wife is the communications director of a social enterprise called Leaders’ Quest, which works with leaders from all walks of life who want to use their unique influence to create positive change in the world. They talk to their communities about the importance of authenticity and how real leadership shines through when someone is genuine and true to themselves.

Most people are quick to spot self-interest and false charm – you only have to look to Lance Armstrong on how not to do it. The most successful leaders I know are genuine, honest and great at empathy.

Authenticity isn’t about being good and worthy, it’s about being who you are, warts and all. Personal authenticity is only achieved when people are honest with themselves. Brené Brown, in her TED Talk The Power of Vulnerability, describes how showing vulnerability allows people to connect with others on a human level. As brands develop their willingness to have open conversations, they will find ways to connect more deeply with their audience.

 

This blog was first published by Zone Digital on their Digital Distractions email newsletter in 2014.



Icons Visits Camp Nou Courtesy of Lionel Messi

Camp Nou: Home of FC Barcelona

One of the perks of working with some of the best players in the world is the opportunity to watch them in action. This weekend was no different, as Icons flew out from our HQ in London to meet with Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi in the Catalan capital.

After a signing with the legendary forward on Friday evening, Messi personally invited Icons to watch Barça entertain La Liga rivals Real Sociedad at Camp Nou the following day. With pitch-side seats courtesy of Messi himself, Icons got to enjoy yet another irresistible performance from the European and Spanish champions.

Messrs Messi, Neymar Jr, Luis Suarez and company ran riot over Eusebio Sacristán’s side with a 4-0 victory that extended their lead at the summit of La Liga, at least for a couple of hours.

Neymar Jr scores first as Barcelona beat Real Sociedad 4-0 in La Liga at Camp Nou

Sweeping home the first of Barcelona’s goals was Neymar, whose superb form this season has him leading the team and the league with 14 goals. He would add another midway through the second half with an equally impressive team move initiated by fellow Icon Andres Iniesta.

Suarez was on had to score the second and most impressive goal of the day just before the interval, acrobatically volleying in Dani Alves’s cross past Sociedad goalkeeper Gerónimo Rulli and into the bottom corner to send the Blaugrana faithful wild.

With the game 2-0 at half time, the feeling around the ground was that the points were safe and the only question left was how many more Barcelona would get.

Lionel Messi bamboozles Real Sociedad players during Barcelona's 4-0 win in La Liga at Camp Nou

Sure enough, Neymar added his second and the team’s third on the 54th minute, sliding in Jérémy Mathieu’s perfectly weighted pass. But the biggest cheer of the afternoon was reserved for the fourth and final goal of the game, as Neymar, Suarez and Messi combined to allow the latter to score his first league goal since returning to action after injury.

Impressive as the performance and the scoreline was, some would argue Barcelona still didn’t quite reach their full potential, which should tell you all you need to know about this phenomenal team.

Barcelona beat Real Sociedad 4-0 at Camp Nou in La Liga

For our full range of Barcelona products, including triple signed shirts from the Three Amigos and brand new products from Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Luis Suarez – all in time for Christmas – check out icons.com now!

Photos courtesy of Matt Hardy. For more images of Icons’ visit to Camp Nou, visit www.matthardyphotography.co.uk.

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Memorabilia signed by Messi



The Greatest Sides Never To Win The World Cup: Brazil 1982

Who cares about the also-rans? Nobody remembers the losers, right? Wrong. They do when they were as talented as… Brazil 1982.

Icons-Memorabilia

Why were Brazil great in 1982?

If ‘Joga Bonito’ was established by the Brazilian World Cup-winning side of 1970, the team that manager Tele Santana assembled twelve years later cultivated it. The players loved the ball and the ball loved them back. Every touch was a caress. Every pass was played with such delicate precision.

The sublime samba skills of Zico, Eder, Socrates, Junior and Falcao were stunning to behold. This was pure footballing nirvana: silky smooth passing and movement interspersed with fancy flicks, spectacular long range strikes, and perfectly executed, curling free-kicks.

1982 World Cup
Initially, Brazil looked unstoppable playing some heaven-sent football based around the beguiling ethos: you score two, we’ll score three. In the first group stage they toyed with the opposition and scored for fun, netting ten times in their games against the Soviet Union, Scotland and New Zealand. The second phase saw them drawn in the ultimate ‘Group of Death’ alongside Argentina and Italy, only the winner progressing. After a sumptuous 3-1 demolition of the defending World Cup holders, it came down to an all or nothing match up with the Italians.

What went wrong?

Because of the better goal difference, Brazil only needed a draw against Italy in the final group game. Even back then, most managers would have adjusted their game plan accordingly, particularly against a team like Italy that had a counterattacking philosophy to begin with. But manager Santana didn’t believe in that. Brazil did their thing. And while the romantic in you says it was right to do so, the fact is that it cost them the game. And with that the World Cup.

In perhaps the greatest World Cup match of all-time against Italy they went behind three times to strikes by Paolo Rossi. Despite scoring two stunning goals through Socrates and Falcao, and needing only a draw to reach the semi-finals, it was too high a mountain against a well-organised defence. Brazil went out, and the world wept.

What happened next?

Zico called that game against Italy “the day football died.” As far as his vision of football is concerned, he was correct.

Brazil began soul-searching again, divided between those who wanted a more European-style game and those who believed they should stick to Santana’s vision. They would oscillate between the two. Four years later Santana would return on the World Cup, together with much of the ’82 team. But by that stage they were a spent force.

At the 1986 World Cup a new South-American star was born, but he didn’t play for the Brazilian team. His name? Diego Maradona.

Other posts in this series:
Hungary 1954
Portugal 1966
Holland 1974



The Greatest Sides Never To Win The World Cup: Holland 1974

Who cares about the also-rans? Nobody remembers the losers, right? Wrong. They do when they were as talented as… Holland 1974.

 

Icons-Memorabilia-2

Who cares about the also-rans? Nobody remembers the losers, right? Wrong. They do when they were as talented as… Holland 1974.

Why were Holland great in 1974?

In the early 70’s football had been revolutionized, essentially by the brilliant mind of one man: Johan Cruyff. He approached the game in a brand new way. Where the game had previously been played in strict formations, Cruyff introduced a new dynamic that would change soccer forever.

Total Football
Cruyff’s style of play was quickly named ‘Total Football‘, a reference to how the new style involved the entire team on offence and defense. Total football was an explosive evolution of the sport. Where players had previously played fairly statically in set positions, both Ajax and Holland would often have players seek space outside their normal areas. Important concepts in modern soccer such as the defensive backs overlapping along the sidelines or midfielders extending their runs into the oppositions penalty area were pioneered by the Dutch.

With players like Cruyff, Van Hanegem and Neeskens at the peak of their powers, Holland took the 1974 FIFA World Cup™ by storm, with a 4-0 victory over Argentina exemplifying their irresistible attacking verve.

Abandoning traditional attitudes to positioning, the Dutch were playing a more fluid brand of attacking football than had ever been seen before: players interchanging with each other all over the pitch, with forwards dropping deep and midfielders pushing forward at will. They even managed to out-flair the World Cup holding Brazilians in a 2-0 second-round victory.

So what went wrong?

After conquering the South American giants, the only thing standing between them and the World Cup was West Germany. And like Hungary before them in 1954, the celebrated Dutch attack foundered against teutonic German grit.

Germany looked insecure, Holland uber-confident. Holland were the bookies’ favorites and the neutrals’ too.

And they got the best possible start, with Cruyff winning a penalty inside a minute and Neeskens converting from the spot. But rather than capitalize on the lead, they seemed to go from relaxed to overly mellow. The pace slowed, the passing grew sloppy.

Paul Breitner equalized from the spot midway through the first half and, with Holland pushing forward, Muller scored on the counterattack to give Germany the lead just before the interval. The Dutch grew desperate and the second half, their forays more furious but less clinical. Sepp Maier, in the German goal, did the rest, with save after save. The FIFA World Cup™ had slipped through their fingers.

What happened next?

The Dutch team had dazzled the world with their skill and demanding style of play. The area of total football would carry the Dutch national team to a second World Cup final four years later, but this time without Johan Cruyff and Willem van Hanegem.

But the trauma of 1974 was exacerbated. In the FIFA World Cup™ final against host nation Argentina they lost another tightly fought and controversial game in extra time.

Other posts in this series:
Hungary 1954
Portugal 1966



The Greatest Sides Never To Win The World Cup: Portugal 1966

Who cares about the also-rans? Nobody remembers the losers, right? Wrong. They do when they were as talented as… Portugal 1966. Or Hungary 1954.

Icons-Memorabilia

Why were Portugal great in 1966?

Portugal of 1966 were not so much about a great team, as a great player: Eusébio. Reminiscent of Maradona some 20 years later, Eusébio single-handedly carried his country through the tournament. If Eusébio, the reigning European Player of the Year, had started the tournament with a big reputation, he finished it with something approaching God-like status.

Taking on a Brazil side that included Pelé in the first round, Eusébio nabbed the headlines from under the nose of the famous number 10, with a brilliant brace of goals in a 3-1 win. Portugal outscored its three group opponents 9-2 and qualified for the quarter finals. The best however, was yet to come.

Faced with the tournament’s surprise package North Korea, the Portuguese fell 3-0 down after just 22 minutes of the quarter final. Sensing disaster, Eusebio started to play. Four goals later he had turned the match on its head, with Augusto adding a fifth late-on to complete a 5-3 victory.

So what went wrong?

Portugal’s dream was then destroyed by hosts England. The semi final was to take place at Goodison Park in Liverpool, where Portugal beat North Korea three days before, and stayed over for the semis.

Just 24 hours before kick-off, the World Cup organisation decided to move the game to Wembley, London. Not surprisingly close to the hotel and the training ground of the English national team. Instead of a last training for the game, the Portuguese spent the better part of the day before the crucial semi final in a train.

‘Jogo das Lágrimas’
For ninety minutes during the game, England midfielder Nobby Stiles was given the job of marking the prolific Eusébio. His tough performance resulted in Eusébio being practically nullified for the entire game.

That was as good as it got for Portugal, as even Eusébio couldn’t save them when they came up against England in the semi-finals, a pair of Bobby Charlton goals sending the hosts through.

While home fans rejoiced in a 2-1 victory, many shared Eusébio’s tears, sorry to see ‘The Black Pearl’ on a losing side as the sheer gusto of his play had lit up the tournament. This historical game will always be remembered as ‘Jogo das Lágrimas’ (The Crying Game).

What happened next?

Consolation came by way of a bronze medal after a 2-1 win against the Soviet Union in the 3rd/4th place play-off. Eusébio also won the Golden Boot after netting nine times, and the hearts of all, leading to a waxwork being created of him at Madame Tussauds.

1966 was the first and last time seeing Eusébio playing on a World Cup. He never took part in another finals, as the Portugal sides he later played in bowing out in the qualifying stages in both ‘70 and ‘74.

Other posts in this series:
Hungary 1954
Holland 1974



The Greatest Sides Never To Win The World Cup: Hungary 1954

Who cares about the also-rans? Nobody remembers the losers, right? Wrong. They do when they were as talented as… Hungary 1954.

Hungry

Why were Hungary great in 1954?

Despite the nation being ravaged by World War II, Hungary’s footballers became the gold standard in Europe. Between 1945 and 1950 they went undefeated, scoring 105 goals in 27 games.

So why did they not win the 1950 World Cup in Brazil? Post-war Hungary was eventually taken over by a Soviet-allied government and became part of the Eastern Bloc, and the Hungarian government did not want to pay for a trip to Brazil. We can only guess what might have happened if they had.

The team was built around the gold-plated left boot of Ferenc Puskás (one of the greatest ever), flanked by Nandor Hidegkuti (an original ‘false nine’) and Sandor Kocsis (a lethal centre-forward), and were famed for a magical brand of gung-ho, attacking football. Hungary’s ‘Magnificent Magyars’ were light years ahead of the rest of the world in terms of talent and tactics.

They did win the 1952 Olympic tournament, and a year later England felt the full Hungarian force. At Wembley, the visitors won by 3-6, with Hidegkuti bagging himself a hat-trick. In the Budapest rematch six month later, a 7-1 win for Hungary left no doubt: this team will win the next World Cup in Switzerland.

Hungary was unbeaten in 27 games going into the tournament. After romping through the group with 17 goals in two matches, including an 8-3 thrashing of a weakened West Germany side, it reached the final with rugged 4-2 wins over Brazil and Uruguay in the quarters and semis. The Magyars managed those two victories without the injured Puskás, who was back for the final, albeit half fit.

So what went wrong?

It remains a mystery how they managed to lose to a West Germany team it had dominated and beaten by five goals just two weeks earlier.

Hungary’s victory seemed written in the stars, especially when it went 2-0 up in the first eight minutes of the final at a rain-lashed Wankdorf Stadium. But this time the West Germans hit back straightaway, and by the 20th minute it was 2-2.

After that, Hungary created chance after chance, but the sodden pitch gave the more physical and athletic West Germans the edge. Hungary began to tire and with six minutes to go, German winger Helmut Rahn scored the winning 3-2. Two minutes from the end of the match, Puskás appeared to score an equalizer, but the goal was disallowed due to an offside call.

In Germany the final is still known as ‘Das Wunder von Bern’ (The Miracle of Bern).

What happened next?

Hungary and the whole world were shocked and stunned. The planned triumphal return to Budapest was canceled to avoid angry, questioning mobs of supporters. The best team in the world didn’t win the World Cup, so they flew back to an anonymous provincial town.

In October 1956, a spontaneous nationwide revolt broke out against the government of the Hungarian People’s Republic and its Soviet-imposed policies. Budapest Honvéd FC, home to most of the national side, were playing a European Cup game in Bilbao when the Hungarian revolt broke out. The team remained abroad until the uprising was quashed as Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest. Some of them went back, others, like Puskás, chose to defect.

Puskás emigrated to Spain where he played for Real Madrid. While playing with Real Madrid, Puskás won four Pichichis and scored seven goals in two European Champions Cup finals. In 1962, Puskás took Spanish nationality and subsequently played four times for Spain. Three of these games were at the 1962 World Cup. For once, his goalscoring form deserted him and he failed to score any goals for Spain.

Other posts in this series:
Portugal 1966
Holland 1974