Category: Why We Love

Why We Love Ronaldinho, The Smiley Samba Star

Let’s face it, everyone loves Ronaldinho.

The former Paris Saint-Germain, FC Barcelona and AC Milan legend is one of our heroes here at Icons.com. The Brazilian embodied the samba style that defined a generation, while winning a UEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup winner’s medal with that trademark grin on his face and a song in his boots.

Because it wasn’t just his outrageous skill and unstoppable flair that made him great. Oh no. It was the way he played the game as if still on the rough streets of Porto Alegre, dribbling the ball past his dog Bombom or scoring 23 goals for his local youth team. He made seasoned defenders in the prime of their distinguished careers look like schoolchildren. He baffled goalkeepers.

So, to celebrate the launch of our brand new and exclusive range of Ronaldinho signed items, we’ve compiled a short list of why it is we love him. Of course, there are innumerable reasons why football fans adore the man who for a period in the mid-noughties was the hero of every street footballer, but we’ll leave it to you to tell us what we’ve missed from our list…


He’s good at football in all its forms

Table football is a real thing and of course Ronaldinho is good at it.


He set up Leo Messi for the Argentine’s first ever goal

It shouldn’t have been legal for Barcelona to have these two on the same team.


He’s scored some pretty outrageous goals himself

The goal of a lifetime for most; just another standard, gravity-defying overhead kick for this man.


Some of them will stay with us forever

Even today’s stars struggle to re-create the Ronnie magic…


His control of the ball was absolute

This deserved more than simple applause, Frank. Come on.


No, seriously, footballs obeyed his every command

This is what Ronnie called ‘a warm up’.


He was pretty good from dead ball situations

Simply unstoppable.


But he still found joy in scoring the simplest of tap-ins

That poor, poor keeper.


He’s still got and will probably never lose it…

Hands up if you think a 37-year-old Ronnie could still do it for your team…


Shop from our full range of 100% authentic Ronaldinho signed items by visiting our dedicated R10 page…

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Why We Love Messi’s 300 La Liga Goals

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-SEVILLA

With the opening goal of FC Barcelona‘s 3-1 victory over Sporting Gijon on Wednesday evening, Lionel Messi became the first player in the history of La Liga to reach 300 league goals. So, to celebrate Messi’s landmark achievement, the staff of icons.com have picked their favourite of Messi’s now 301 goals in the Spanish topflight.

But, with over 300 efforts to choose from, it’s inevitable that we would leave out a number of amazing goals. So, let us know if we’ve left out your favourite goal by getting in touch on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. And don’t forget, we have a wide range of official Lionel Messi signed memorabilia available to buy on icons.com right now. So check it out and grab yourself a wonderful item from one of the greatest players in football history.


Goal Number 1 (vs Albacete, May 1st, 2005)

This is where it all began. Lionel Messi‘s very first goal for Barcelona was a classic. Sent clear by Ronaldinho, a 17-year-old Leo steadies himself, sizes up the onrushing goalkeeper and cooly lobs it into the back of the net to get off the mark in La Liga. Everything is perfect here, from Ronaldinho’s awesome dinked pass to the fact it seals the points for Barca in the dying seconds of a typical Camp Nou victory. Simply historic. – Alistair Hunter


Goal Number 78 (vs Real Zaragoza, March 21st, 2010)

Similar to his Copa del Rey goal against Getafe, this solo effort is just incredible. It’s a goal that reminded me of Diego Maradona’s against England because Messi has the ball for so long and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much skill and control in an individual effort. It’s also great because he shows tremendous strength to win the ball in the first place and then the quickness in his feet to take past that first opponent is magical. Superb stuff. – Edward Freedman


Goal Number 158 (vs Getafe, April 10th, 2012)

Has there ever been a midfielder-striker partnership as good as Andres Iniesta and Lionel MessiI think this goal, with the quality of the one-two between Andres and Leo, shows off what was and still is an incredible duo. The neat interplay between the two is amazing to watch, but then there’s the power of Messi’s finish. This is a goal of real style and class. – Ben Soley


Goal Number 276 (vs Almeria, April 8th, 2015)

If you rush to him, Messi dribbles past you. If you stay put, the Argentine magician does this. Defensively, there is not much more Almeria could do. But Messi makes top level footballers look like amateurs on a weekly basis. The nonchalance with which he impossibly bends the ball around well-placed defenders is something only one player on Earth could do. With a phenomenon like Messi you can’t really win. That’s why Messi is Messi and the rest just trail in his wake. – Jack O’Neill


Which of Messi’s La Liga goals is your favourite? Let us know by checking out this incredible video of all of his 301 La Liga goals.

Shop from our full range of official Lionel Messi signed items here.

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Memorabilia signed by Messi



Why We Love The Most Iconic UEFA Champions League Finals

The UEFA Champions League is without a doubt the crown jewel of club football silverware in the world, but what are the best finals ever played in this European competition? We selected a top five.

Top 5 Greatest Ever UEFA Champions League Finals

#5: Bayer Leverkusen vs. Real Madrid, 2002 (1-2)

Maybe not the best UEFA Champions League final, but arguably the greatest goal ever seen in a Champions League final as Zinedine Zidane scored a sublime left footed volley on the stroke of half time.

Real Madrid beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 for its third title in five years and ninth overall. Will they finally complete La Decima after twelve years?

Click here to see the video.

#4: FC Barcelona vs. Manchester United, 2011 (3-1)

The greatest team of the last decade at the height of their power, with Manchester United being unlucky to be its prey. Pep Guardiola’s FC Barcelona side were unstoppable that evening at Wembley.

By the time David Villa delicately curled home the third goal, the whole world knew that we were witnessing a truly great team and one of the best footballing outfits in the history of world football.

Click here to see the video.

#3: FC Barcelona vs. AC Milan, 1994 (0-4)

Fabio Capello’s all-conquering AC Milan side faced off against Johan Cruyff’s ‘Dream Team‘ FC Barcelona. It promised to be an exciting evening.

But the excitement turned into admiration. Goals from Dejan Savicevic, Marcel Desailly and a brace from Daniele Massaro gave the Rossoneri an emphatic 4-0 victory. Many believe Milan’s performance in that final to be one of the best ever team displays in European history as they simply demolished their Spanish opposition.

Click here to see the video.

#2: Manchester United vs. Bayern Munich, 1999 (2-1)

Boris Becker’s story tells everything. “Franz Beckenbauer and I left our seats in the 90th minute to get into position. As we walked into the lift, the score was 1-0. Everything was going absolutely fine. By the time we got out, the scoreboard read we were losing 2-1. “There must be a mistake, Franz,” I said. He looked at me. “No, Boris. There’s no mistake.”

Two goals in injury-time from substitutes Teddy Sheringham and then Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw Manchester United overturn Mario Basler’s sixth minute opener and win a match they (judging by the stats) had no right to win. An English win in German style.

Click here to see the video.

#1: AC Milan vs. Liverpool, 2005 (3-3 AET, Liverpool wins 3-2 on penalties)

For sheer drama, suspense, unpredictability, longevity, magic, shock and ambiance, the 2005 Champions League final between five-time winners Liverpool and seven-time winners AC Milan takes number one spot.

Milan raced into a 3-0 half-time lead with football so good that hopeless Liverpool fans left the stadium in embarrassment. Bad mistake as ‘six minutes of madness’ followed culminating in Xabi Alonso thumping home the equalizer after his penalty kick was saved.

In extra time, Liverpool-goalie Jerzy Dudek pulled off an incredible save to prevent Andriy Shevchenko scoring and cause the game to go to penalties. The Polish keeper continued his heroics in the shootout and denied Shevchenko for the second time to give Liverpool their fifth and unlikeliest of European Cup triumphs.

Click here to see the video.

 



Why We Love Ryan Giggs, A Premier League Legend

Imagine a life without Ryan Giggs. It is impossible. He was just always there, like Coronation Street and the BBC.

 

Ryan-Giggs-farewell-to-a-living-legend

Yesterday he announced his retirement from professional football. After 23 years playing for Manchester United and 34 trophies he decided he had enough. But it is not only the number of trophies and the longevity that makes this man special. It is his skill of reinvention.

The old & new Giggs
Just after his debut, the 17-year-old was dubbed as ‘the new George Best’. Giggs was a beguiling mix of ruthlessness and grace. The way he ran, the way he passed, the way he moved was balletic but it was also wholly damaging to opponents. But those inelastic hamstrings panged once too often. No more could he play with the same wild abandon. Top speed wasn’t an option as pragmatism crept in where once was unadulterated joy.

He needed to change his way of play and evolved in the elder statesman we know today. The new Giggs got wise; he went from not being able to cross properly to playing slide-rule passes at will. Travelling with the ball became less belting down the flank and more subtle feigns and shifts of balance. It helped him win everything more times than anyone ever.

Great guy to work with
As a person Giggs never changed. We have a long standing work relationship with him, and he is still the nice guy we met for the first time more than 15 years ago. He embarks upon a new and exciting chapter in his life, as assistant manager of Manchester United. And we, we will always remember his contribution to the game with a fantastic range of authentic autographed Giggs memorabilia.


Memorabilia signed by Ryan Giggs



Why We Love Dramatic Endings To A Football Season

Saturday’s clash between Atlético Madrid and FC Barcelona at the Nou Camp will be only the third ‘winner takes all’ match on the final day of the campaign in history and the first since 1951.

Top 5 most dramatic endings to a football season

But over the past few years football has brought us some other spectacular and dramatic season endings. We have made a list in chronological order of the best five.

#1: English Premier League of 1988/89

Arsenal midfielder Mickey Thomas wrote himself into the history books when he scored the most dramatic of late winners to clinch the 1988/89 First Division title. Arsenal travelled to leaders Liverpool on the final day of the season needing to win by at least two goals to take the title on goal difference from the Anfield club. Leading 1-0 in injury time Thomas surged forward from midfield, ran onto an Alan Smith flick-on and chipped the advancing Bruce Grobbelaar to score Arsenal’s crucial second.

Click here to see the video.

#2: Spanish Primera Division of 1993/94

Picture the scene on the final day of the 1993-94 La Liga season… It’s Deportivo against Valencia at the Riazor on the final day of the season. Deportivo, sitting on top of the league, need to just hold their nerve and win to claim their first ever La Liga title. As the game heads into injury time it’s still 0-0. Title rivals Barcelona are beating Sevilla so Deportivo need to win.

As Deportivo throw everything forward, Nando is fouled in the box: penalty to Deportivo! Regular taker Bebeto bottles it, Donato has been substituted, so up steps Yugoslavian defender Miroslav Djukic. This to win the title. He shoots… And he… misses. His lame attempt, straight at goalie Gonzalez, hands Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona the title on goal difference.

Click here to see the video.

#3: German Bundesliga of 2000/01

Schalke 04 and Bayern Munich reached the penultimate round level on points and it looked like the dreadlock wouldn’t be broken. But in the last minute of their respective games Bayern scored the winner against Kaiserslautern and Stuttgart did the same against Schalke, leaving Bayern with a three-point advantage (albeit with a worse goal difference) over Schalke.

In the last matchday, Schalke amazingly recovered from a two-goal deficit to beat Unterhaching 5-3 but the title would still go to Bayern as long as they could hold the 0-0 score at Hamburg. In the 90th minute, however, Sergej Barbarez scored for Hamburg, sending the Schalke fans into raptures (and onto the pitch) celebrating what would have been their first German title since 1958. ‘Would have been’ had Patrik Andersson not drawn level for Bayern following an indirect free kick in the fourth minute of injury time.

Click here to see the video (in German).

#4: German Bundesliga of 1999/00 and 2001/02

To lose one Bundesliga that was in the bag might be considered unfortunate. To lose two smacked of carelessness. In 2000 Bayer Leverkusen only needed a draw against strugglers Unterhaching but, thanks largely to an own goal by Michael Ballack, contrived to lose 2-0. Bayern Munich don’t blow opportunities like this (apart from the 1999 UEFA Champions League final against Manchester United), and beat Werder Bremen 3-1.

In 2002 it was even worse for Leverkusen. They led by 5 points with 3 games to play, but lost two. Meanwhile Dortmund won their last three fixtures to grab an unlikely title. Leverkusen went on to lose in the finals of both the European and German Cups and have never been the same force since.

Click here to see the video (in German).

#5: English Premier League of 2011/12

Manchester City needed to beat struggling QPR at home to pip rivals Manchester United to the Premiership crown. Losing 2-1 going into injury time all looked lost. But step forward Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero in the 92nd and 93rd minutes to clinch a 3-2 win for the most astonishing ending to any Premier League season.

Click here to see the video.

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Why We Love Andres Iniesta, The World’s Most Beloved Footballer

In 1999, Pep Guardiola stated that he had seen a 15-year-old in a youth team of FC Barcelona who could read the game better than he could himself. Because the boy was a big fan of Guardiola, he signed a poster for him with the text: “To the best player I’ve ever seen.” The boy was delighted.

Andrés-Iniesta-the-most-beloved-footballer-around-the-world

It were Andrés Iniesta’s first steps to a glorious carreer.

Iniesta is not only one of the world’s best football players. He is also one of the most beloved footballers around the world. Even fans of rivals Real Madrid and Espanyol have to admit they like him as both a player and a person.

We met Andrés Iniesta for the third time during our private signing session last month. He is one of the nicest person in football and so down to earth.

Pep Guardiola once said about Iniesta: “He doesn’t wear earrings and hasn’t got any tattoos. That makes him unattractive to the media but he is the best.” He is an ordinary-looking guy, who not long ago in a Barcelona café was mistaken for a waiter by a woman who gave him her order. Iniesta went to the kitchen and got it for her.

But what makes Iniesta such a beloved player around the world? He thanks his parents for the person he is nowadays.

“I like to return to the small town where I grew up and hang out with my old friends. It is easy for me to be me. I am how my parents educated me. I am what I am thanks to my parents. It’s impossible to lose those values. When I was 12 years old my father saved money for three months to buy me predator boots. I have money now but each time I look at those boots I remember where I come from.”

Vision of life
Something that changed his vision of life was the death of Dani Jarque, his close friend and Espanyol’s captain, who suddenly passed away in 2009 because of a heart attack. “Jarque’s death completely changed my vision of life.”

He wanted to make the world remember Dani Jarque. And he did. Iniesta scored the winner in the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ final which made Spain the world champion for the very first time. When all the world was watching him, he took off his shirt and showed his message, “Dani Jarque siempre con nosotros.”

Dani Jarque will always stay with him. And we will always like Andrés Iniesta.

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Memorabilia signed by Andres Iniesta



Why We Love Brazil’s 1970 FIFA World Cup Squad, The Greatest Team Ever

It is the good old Friday afternoon discussion in the pub: what has been the greatest football team ever? We are giving you 5 reasons what made the 1970 FIFA World Cup™ Brazil team so special.

1970-World-Cup-Brazil-squad-is-the-greatest-team-of-all-time

#1: Revenge for 1966 FIFA World Cup™ 
The 1966 FIFA World Cup™ had been a huge blow for Brazil. Following the victories in ’58 and ’62, a new FIFA World Cup™ trophy was all that matters. But it ended in disaster. No win meant a particularly un-Brazilian first round exit, and the team was in complete disarray. They took the ultimate revenge four years later.

#2: A glorious exhibition of attacking football
“What this team needs are great players, players who are intelligent. Let’s go with that and see where it takes us.” Brazil manager Mario Zagallo realized that his role was one of overall management, not specific tactics. It led to one of the most sensational explosions of style and offense in the prestigious history of the tournament. Brazil had once again proved that force of personality could overwhelm the system.

#3: World Cup’s most thrilling attacking force
Starplayer Pelé was joined by thrilling wingers Jairzinho and Rivelino, playmaker Gerson, the nascent talent of midfielder Clodoaldo and skipper Carlos Alberto, a superb exponent of the art of the attacking full-back. Centre-forward Tostao was there, too, his career saved by an eye operation. Together they formed the World Cup’s most thrilling attacking force.

#4: Most memorable match in FIFA World Cup™ history
The group stage of the 1970 FIFA World Cup™ brought together first and foremost champions England and favourites Brazil. The match between them is regarded as one of the best in FIFA World Cup™ history – certainly among first round matches. Brazil won 1-0 thanks to a Jairzinho goal after a fine attack, but the game is also remembered for the “save of the century” by Gordon Banks from a Pelé header.

#:5 The best team goal in FIFA World Cup™ history

 

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Why We Love Eusebio, One Of The Greatest Goalscorers Of All Time

Yesterday, football lost a legend. Portuguese icon Eusebio, who was top scorer at the 1966 World Cup, died aged 71 from a heart attack on Sunday, prompting tributes from players, pundits, coaches and fans across the world.

Eusebio - One Of The Greatest Goalscorers Of All Time

Given his contribution to the game, it’s maybe no surprise. Is there a more breathtaking record in international football than his? Eusebio scored 733 goals in 745 competitive games in his career, putting his reputation as one of the greatest players of all time beyond any doubt.

Raised in extreme poverty, the forward would skip school classes to play barefoot football with his friends on improvised pitches using improvised footballs. From those humble beginnings, he became one of the most recognisable faces in sport.

Since his retirement, he continued to act as an ambassador for the game and is still regarded one of the best goalscorers the game has ever seen. He’ll be sorely missed.

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