Tag: FIFA World Cup

Spain Legend Cesc Fabregas Signs for Icons.com!

We are thrilled to announce the latest iconic name to sign memorabilia for Icons.com: former Arsenal, FC Barcelona and Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas!

The private signing session took place in Barcelona on Wednesday July 6th where Fabregas added his autograph to a vast array of stunning new items including shirts, boots, photos, balls and much more.

The midfield maestro was an important part of the Arsenal, FC Barcelona and Chelsea engine rooms between the years of 2003 and 2019.

His honours include but are in no way limited to the 2010 FIFA World Cup with Spain, along with two UEFA EURO wins in 2008 and 2012. Club honours include the FA Cup with Arsenal, two Premier League medals with Chelsea and the La Liga title with FC Barcelona, making him one of the most coveted players both on the domestic and international stage. 

Fabregas signed Spain, Arsenal, FC Barcelona and Chelsea shirts will be available to buy not only in sleek Icons.com presentation options but also in our official and exclusive FC Barcelona, UEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup memorabilia collections.

The full range of Fabregas signed memorabilia will be available to buy from Icons.com in the coming days/weeks – so stay tuned!

Each and every item of Cesc Fabregas signed memorabilia will come with an official Certificate of Authenticity, which serves as your proof that Fabregas’ signature is 100% authentic and was genuinely signed by the man himself during this private signing session, organised and conducted by our dedicated signing team.

For all the latest on which global megastar we sign with next, as well as early access to products and exclusive discounts, giveaways and much more, make sure you’re subscribed to the Icons.com email newsletter. Sign up today via icons.com/newsletter.



Lionel Messi Signs Again for Icons.com!

Icons.com’s decade-long official relationship with Lionel Messi has paid off once again as the global superstar put pen to product in our first signing of 2022 with the Argentine maestro.

The private signing session took place in Paris on April 13th, 2022 at which Messi signed a superb collection of incredible pieces of memorabilia, including shirts, boots, balls and photos.

We now have even more Official Messi Signed Merchandise in stock, including FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Argentina shirts. They are also available to buy online in our official and exclusive FC BarcelonaUEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup memorabilia collections.

In terms of pure ability and astonishing natural talent, Messi has continued to set the bar high and has forged a career that will be talked about for decades to come. Having scored an incredible 672 goals in 778 FC Barcelona appearances, Messi not only broke a club record but also a La Liga record.

Every piece of Official Messi Signed Merchandise comes with a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) that shows Messi signing these great items at the session in question, as well as details of the date and location of the signing. Our official COAs are created under license by Icons Shop Limited. So, any Messi signed product that doesn’t come with an official COA is not official and therefore cannot to be trusted.

For all the latest on which global megastar we sign with next, as well as early access to products and exclusive discounts, giveaways and much more, make sure you’re subscribed to the Icons.com email newsletter. Sign up today via icons.com/newsletter.



Another Signing with Superstar Lionel Messi!

Icons.com are delighted to confirm that Lionel Messi has once again put pen to product at the latest of our official signing sessions with the global superstar.

The private signing session took place in Paris on December 16th, 2021 at which Messi signed a vast array of incredible pieces including shirts, boots, balls and photos.

Messi-signed FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Argentina shirts are available to buy online now in our official and exclusive FC BarcelonaUEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup memorabilia collections.

We all know that Messi needs no introduction but it’s impossible not to marvel at his superhuman ability and hall of fame playing record. Now plying his trade at PSG, Messi has been the focal point of some of European football’s most deadly attacks in every season he has played.

Breaking over 20 records at FC Barcelona, including the club’s all-time goalscoring record and winning the Ballon d’Or more than any other player, Messi now set his sights on breaking records in France at another of the world’s biggest clubs.

As Lionel Messi’s official and exclusive worldwide signing partner and licensee, we at Icons.com pride ourselves on the fact that we have been signing with him since the age of 17. That’s almost 20 years of signing with one of the world’s greatest ever players.

All Official Messi Signed Merchandise comes with a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) that shows Messi signing the item in question at our session, as well as detailing the date and location of the signing. The COA is officially branded and created under license by Icons Shop Limited.

For all the latest on which global megastar we sign with next, as well as early access to products and exclusive discounts, giveaways and much more, make sure you’re subscribed to the Icons.com email newsletter. Sign up today via icons.com/newsletter.

The private signing session took place in Paris on 16th December 2021 where Messi signed a vast array of incredible pieces including shirts, boots, balls and photos.

Messi signed Barcelona, PSG, Argentina shirts are available to buy online now not only in sleek Icons.com presentation options but also in our official and exclusive FC BarcelonaUEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup memorabilia collections.

We all know that Messi needs no introduction but it’s impossible not to marvel at his vast ability and playing record. Now plying his trade at PSG, Messi has been the focal point of Barcelona’s attack force in every season he has played.

Breaking over 20 records at Barcelona, including becoming their all time top goal scorer and winning the most Ballon d’Or awards, Messi will no set his sights on breaking some records in France, which we are sure he will.

As Icons are Lionel Messi’s official and exclusive worldwide signing partner and licensee, we pride ourselves on the fact that we have been signing with him since the age of 17. That’s almost 20 years of signing with the worlds greatest player.

All Official Messi Signed Merchandise comes with a Certificate of Authenticity that shows Messi signing one of the items at the session, as well as the date and location of the signing. The COA is Messi branded and created under license by Icons.

For all the latest on which global megastar we sign with next, as well as early access to products and exclusive discounts, giveaways and much more, make sure you’re subscribed to the Icons.com email newsletter. Sign up today via icons.com/newsletter.



FC Barcelona & Spain Legend Xavi Signs for Icons.com!

Today we are excited to announce the latest iconic name to sign memorabilia for Icons.com: former FC Barcelona and Spain midfield maestro Xavi!

Signing behind closed doors at a private session in Qatar on February 8th this year, Xavi added his signature to a wide range of incredible new items, including shirts, photos, boots, balls and more. 

Alongside his countryman Andres Iniesta, Xavi stood out among a number of truly great players during a spell of unprecedented success for both his club and country. A midfielder with a unique ability to make his complex role in an elaborate system look as easy as a walk in the park, Xavi was best at controlling the tempo of a match with his spectacular vision and range of passing.

Xavi signed FC Barcelona and Spain memorabilia will be available to buy not only in our sleek Icons.com presentation options but also in our official and exclusive FC Barcelona, UEFA Champions League, UEFA EURO 2020 and FIFA World Cup memorabilia ranges.

The full range of Xavi signed memorabilia is available to buy now exclusively from Icons.com!

Each and every item of Xavi signed memorabilia will come with an official Certificate of Authenticity, which serves as your proof that Xavi’s signature is 100% authentic and was genuinely signed by the man himself during this private signing session, organised by our dedicated signing team.

For all the latest on which global megastar we sign with next, as well as early access to products and exclusive discounts, giveaways and much more, make sure you’re subscribed to the Icons.com email newsletter. Sign up today via icons.com/newsletter.

This is Icons.com, we are Official. Authentic. Exclusive.



From Our CEO: The Inside Story of Diego & Icons

Take it from me: Diego Maradona was unlike any other footballer and unlike any other person we have ever dealt with. It’s true, he was at times difficult, tempestuous and unreliable but he was also unquestionably charismatic, astonishing and unique.

From first contact to the present day, as we launch our ultimate and exclusive range of Maradona signed memorabilia, this is just part of the extraordinary story of our relationship with the man, the myth and the legend that is Diego Armando Maradona.

I first met Diego in Buenos Aires in May 2010. Those at the company who had previous with him knew we needed to give him about a week to get around to doing a signing session – and even then nothing was guaranteed. In fact, there was one time our team had flown from the UK to Argentina with hundreds of items in tow only to find Diego had left town, without word, for a nine-day holiday.

So you could say I knew I would need to be on my toes for this trip. How much? Well, there we were, the Icons signing team, out drinking past midnight in the fashionable Palermo district of one of the world’s most exciting cities, enjoying what we thought was a night off. The phone rang. ‘Diego will see you now.’

We raced back to the hotel, grabbed as many items as we could carry and jumped in a cab to, of all places, Diego Maradona’s mum’s house. We entered a darkly-lit front room – not exactly the most bizarre setting for a signing but certainly up there – when all of a sudden he emerged, like the human deity he was.

Icons CEO Dan Jamieson at Diego’s house in Dubai

Once he’d figured out who we were, he was as charismatic as you’d expect, posing for photos and generally loving being the centre of attention. The signing went smoothly and even included a special request for a dedication for a certain Mr Wayne Rooney. This was mid 2010 and Diego was the manager of Argentina, shouldering hopes of leading Lionel Messi and his teammates to FIFA World Cup glory in South Africa. Sadly for both Diego and Lionel – and Wayne, too – that wasn’t quite to be.

Even back then Icons had a worldwide-exclusive signing contract with Diego and with him we conducted a further two sessions after he’d moved to Dubai. It would be nice to say that signings with Diego were always hassle-free but this blog is about the truth of our relationship.

On one occasion it took a full week to get our items signed as he had fired all his team and suddenly wasn’t taking any visitors. A couple of years after we’d completed our two-session contract we tried to re-engage with him and were given the green light to buy stock in readiness for another signing only for the phone lines to go cold. For three years we were left with boxes and boxes of unsigned shirts, boots and photos, obliged also to return payments to our pre-order customers. 

After that we waited. And so did you.

Fast forward to 2018 and Diego is managing Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico. So I reach out to a good friend of ours, Emilio, who is a top commercial agent in Mexico City. And so begun a 20-month-long negotiation to get Diego to come back and be an Icon again.

The phone rang. ‘Diego will see you now.’

I was sure we had it done in the spring of 2019. He was all due to sign a contract that was sat on his desk but first, and very reasonably, he had to concentrate on his side’s promotion campaign, the highs and eventual lows of which can be seen in painstaking detail on Netflix. Too tired and emotional after (spoiler alert!) losing in the final, he left Mexico entirely, returning to Argentina for urgent hip-replacement surgery.

The trail had gone cold again.

Sometimes in our line of work the most effective solutions are the simplest and most obvious. So, in May last year, that torrid excuse for a year we call 2020, we gave up on nuanced negotiations and just asked plain and simple: ‘Diego… what’s your price?’

By now the world had all but closed down due to Covid-19. And while we usually attend all our private signing sessions, we had to adapt to the difficult circumstances around us. We had a signed and agreed contract so we were able to send the shirts, photos, boots and balls directly to Diego via shipping agents – all in all they took about a month to arrive. 

Diego with Icons’ Chairman Edward Freedman in May 2010

Finally, on August 5th 2020 we had what we were all waiting for: confirmation. It came in the form of a gallery of photos and videos of Diego putting pen to product. He even signed Icons.com and A1 Sporting Memorabilia boards, which we now hang proudly in our office. 

True to form, Diego signed our products while smoking a big fat cigar and listening to boisterous Latin music. He even managed to send back a shirt with a hole in it that had been singed by that very cigar. “Well, you can’t argue that’s not authentic!” our warehouse team said.

The first shipment made it all back in one piece and we were able to fulfil all the pre-orders we had sold both on our site and to our wholesale customers around the world.

The second shipment was sent out to Argentina in September and they remained mostly unsigned until after Diego’s brain surgery. To his eternal credit, he spent part of his rehabilitation in the days that followed signing the remainder of our products. What a legend. 

He even managed to send back a shirt with a hole in it that had been singed by that very cigar.

We were working on shipping them back, approaching the end of another successful signing, when we heard the awful news of his tragic and untimely death.

In the difficult moments that followed for our staff who, along with so many around the world, were only just processing the very sad news, we knew we had to make a number of quick and ultimately respectful decisions.

We took down all pre-order products but kept the other items we had live on the site. We decided not to change the prices, not to remove unframed items and not to block any of the discounts codes we’d issued to our loyal customers to what was then the run-up to Black Friday. As such we sold out of every Diego signed item we still had within 29 minutes of the news breaking.

As you can imagine it has been a slow, difficult and expensive operation to secure, package and return all the signed items in our second shipment. Dr Matias Morla, one of Diego’s lawyers, has been very helpful throughout and it’s testament to the long-term relationship we have with Diego and his team that we were able to work closely with them even in those dreadful weeks after his passing.

The items finally left Argentina in the week before Christmas and we were eagerly awaiting their arrival when we got the news from our shipping agent that all the boxes had been lost at Heathrow Airport. 

After a sharp intake of breath we sent a polite request to please, please, please go back and check again. This was precious cargo of the highest order. The boxes were found then the van sending them to our warehouse broke down. It was Christmas Eve and quite frankly, we were feeling very done with 2020 on the whole.

The reason I wanted to illustrate all this is to try to explain the lengths we go to in bringing our loyal audience the world’s best signed products. Sometimes the job we do is easy and glamorous and takes a week or two from start to finish. Sometimes it takes twenty-one years.

Today, on Monday the 1st of February 2021 we will be proud and excited – and yes, mournful too – to launch our ultimate range of authentic and official Diego Maradona signed products. 

We have ensured all our pre-order customers have their orders fulfilled, and we are putting the framed items we took down on the day of his death back up at the original prices. We are also introducing a whole new range of Maradona products, with our signed Puma King boots, signed retro FC Barcelona shirts, signed photos and classic signed 1986 Argentina shirts. We’ve also been working with our partners at Getty Images, Llewellyn Illustrations, Toffs and Opus to add yet more items to that core range.

Icons is the only place to buy genuine products hand-signed by Diego. As our agent Sport & Life commented: “We must be proud that it was the last contract he signed, and that he worked on it to the end.” 

We will miss working with our friend Diego. Through it all and to the end he was iconic in every way.


Shop from our full range of 100% authentic Diego Maradona signed items by visiting Icons.com today…

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Diego Maradona: A Tribute To An Icon

On Wednesday evening, the world of sport lost an icon of near-unparalleled stature. The death of Diego Armando Maradona, at just 60-years-old, has shocked and deeply saddened all of us here at Icons.com.

The tragic news brought into sharp focus the profound reverence millions of people had for Diego – not just in Buenos Aires and Naples, but all over the world.

The cascade of heartfelt tributes from family, friends, teammates – even rivals – reminded us that few players were as passionately hallowed as an earthbound deity like Diego.

Diego with Icons’ Non-Executive Chairman Edward Freedman in May 2010

Last night we watched as many on social media shared their favourite Diego memories. We saw those spectacular scenes of his arrival and unprecedented success at Napoli; the wild and almost animalistic celebrations he became known for; the iconic lift of the FIFA World Cup trophy at the Azteca in 1986; and, of course, those goals against England (yes, both of them).

This week has reminded us that icons like Diego are very reason we love to do what we do. When we arranged to get a new collection of memorabilia signed by Diego over the past couple of months, we knew those items would be a huge hit. They have been every time we’ve stocked them over the course of our near-two decade relationship with him. And so they were again.

Icons CEO Dan Jamieson at Diego’s house in Dubai

Many of us have heroes that we pay homage to in our own way. Whether it’s a signed shirt hanging from a wall or a simple ticket stub hidden away in a drawer, we keep memorabilia to stay close to the people whose talents make us love the sports we watch. Bringing Diego closer to his legions of fans has been a great joy of ours for many years.

We may never see the likes of Diego Maradona again and for that the world of sport has been dealt a severe blow.

May he rest in peace.


For information on Diego Maradona signed memorabilia, including pre-orders not yet fulfilled, please contact our Customer Support team via [email protected] or by calling +44 (0)20 3904 7600 between 9am and 5.30pm GMT Monday to Friday.



Dispatches from Russia: A FIFA World Cup Diary

“What were you expecting? A grizzly bear playing a balalaika and drinking vodka?”

“No, I was expecting a paunchy man in a tracksuit named Vasya to throw me in his trunk and drive me to Mordovia.”

“Oh, so you know Vasya?”

****

Expectation. It’s a word you hear a lot in the build-up to a FIFA World Cup. Especially if you happen to live in England. Are our expectations too high? When do we expect to go out? Should we expect penalties? Do we expect trouble in the host country?

More often than not, there’s only one way to find the answers to these questions. And that’s exactly why I was so excited to get the chance to experience the FIFA World Cup through my own eyes – to see the answers unfold on the pitch in front of me and to find out what it’s really like in a foreign country that to so many appears cold and unwelcoming.

Sure, you could argue that I’ve not come to the real Russia. Right now, Russia is in its Sunday best. It’s a Russia that’s been told to behave and be polite to outsiders. And yet, in Saint Petersburg, where I started my FIFA World Cup adventure a few days ago, I still found, and continue to find, that my expectations were far removed from anything even resembling the reality of Russia.

A hotbed of football fandom, the FIFA Fanfest in Moscow sits in front of the stunning State University building.

Though I can’t speak for the rest of the country, Saint Petersburg and Moscow have appeared to be almost ultra-friendly and cosmopolitan. There are no brutalist Soviet office blocks. No scary skinhead men spoiling for a scrap. Instead, in Saint Petersburg in particular, I found Venetian canals, vape shops and and hipster burger joints.

Replace the cyrillic signage on the city streets and you could fool me that this was Copenhagen.

Then comes the football. You can’t move for football out here. There’s FIFA World Cup bunting, plant pots decorated like the classic Telstar football. Zabivaka, the official FIFA World Cup mascot, is everywhere. When I arrived in Moscow, Brazil’s match against Costa Rica was streamed live in the carriages on the metro. Everyone here wants to know who you’re supporting and who you think will win the tournament.

Which brings me to Argentina. I was lucky enough to be in the stadium for the Marcos Rojo rescue act. I have been to many stadiums and many matches around the world. I’ve even been to three UEFA Champions League finals. But the noise, the atmosphere, the palpable tension giving way to sheer joy and elation when that goal was scored was something I’d never experienced ever before.

Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg sits at the end of a mile-long island near a children’s theme park and a vast expanse of parkland. On Tuesday, it was overrun by Argentines in search of a miracle.

The Argentines have come here in mind-boggling numbers, all praying for the same miracle. They hope – perhaps against all logic and reason – that Lionel Messi alone can deliver a spectacular upset. Because it’s not Argentina against the world right now. It’s Argentina against themselves.

As a massive Messi fan, I hope he can bring them glory. I hope he can do it for every single Argentine I have met on this extraordinary trip. I hope he is able to do it for Carlos and his friends, who bought me a beer in Copenhagen airport just because I had an Argentina shirt in my bag. I hope he can do it for the old guy I met in Saint Petersburg, who told me he was among the few people he knows who prefers Messi to Diego Maradona. I hope he can do it for the lads in the Moscow FIFA Fan Fest with the Newell’s Old Boys banner.

I hope, just as much as I do for England, that they don’t expect too much.


Shop from our full range of official FIFA World Cup signed memorabilia today.

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We Predict… The 2018 FIFA World Cup

You feel that, right? That’s the feeling we football fans get in the days leading up to the start of a FIFA World Cup. That’s the feeling you get when you know there’s a whole month of tournament football lying in wait. After Russia face Saudi Arabia in the tournament opener at the Luzhniki on Thursday, there are 55 games in the space of 19 days. Once it all gets going there’ll only be one day left of June that won’t have a match on. You feel it, right? It’s called FIFA World Cup fever.

Everyone at Icons.com has it. We’re all heading out to Russia over the course of the tournament and we could’t be more excited. But nor could we be more divided on what’s going to go down when the best of the best go head-to-head.

Making a hash of what’s to come over the next 32 days, our staff and partners have made their predictions for the competition ahead. But don’t take our word as gospel, feel free to get involved on our FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages by giving us your predictions. After all, you can hardly do much worse.

And, of course, be sure to check out our fantastic range of official FIFA World Cup signed memorabilia from icons past and present – available right now on Icons.com.


Edward Freedman, Chairman

Winners: SPAIN have the best individuals and, since their victory in 2010, they are experienced in winning this tournament.

Runner-up: FRANCE’s weakest link is their inexperience but they have a great team that can get them to a second straight tournament final.

Shock exit: ENGLAND are rubbish. I don’t think they’re in the same class as a lot of the teams being talked about at this tournament. The Three Lions will draw against Panama and lose to Tunisia with the former shocking the world to progress to the knockout stages.

Golden Boot: DIEGO COSTA will inspire the eventual winners with a glut of goals.

England will… well, see above.

Random predictions: Iran will do a lot better than people expect while Belgium will disappoint despite progressing through Group G.

Can Diego Costa fire Spain to their second world title – a fourth major tournament triumph in ten years?

Dan Jamieson, CEO

Winners: SPAIN know how to win it, can keep the ball forever, have the world’s best goalkeeper and this time around they have the ugliest of ugly up front. And, of course, Sergio Ramos can take out any striker whenever necessary.

Runner-up: I like the look of FRANCE. They are my office sweepstake pick and I also like the look of about 23 high-calibre players that can’t even get into the squad (think Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema, Anthony Martial etc.). I think it’s a tournament too early for them to become world champions but the mix is right and in Antoine Griezmann they have a potential Golden Boot winner.

Shock exit: BRAZIL are not as good as they think they are, especially at defending. Neymar Jr can’t be 100% fit and the team is built around him. If they are dysfunctional upfront then the first big team that stands up to them can exploit the spaces at the back.

Golden Boot: If France get to the final then GRIEZMANN will play seven games and clean up just as he did at UEFA EURO 2016.

England will… play better football, look relatively organised, narrowly win the first two games, lose to Belgium and then come close to beating Colombia in the ROUND OF 16. They will come home feeling that the future’s brighter than the present.

Random predictions: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s mission to complete their trophy collection will be the journalistic narrative but team ethos, top goalkeeping, multiple goal threats, sound defending and ball-keeping midfielders will triumph over what they can offer. England fans will be looking through the silverware-winning U17 and U20 squads and drawing up their 2026 FIFA World Cup teamsheets come early July.

France forward Antoine Griezmann will be looking to go one better after Les Blues came close at UEFA EURO 2016.

Ben Soley, Sales and Marketing Manager

Winners: You don’t necessarily need the depth GERMANY have to win seven FIFA World Cup matches but the quality they possess is just insane. The fact that Leroy Sane will be watching from home (or more likely from a private island resort) speaks volumes.

Runner-up: FRANCE have the joint second youngest squad at the tournament. They beat Germany at UEFA EURO 2016 but that was on home soil. A second straight loss in a major final will be hard to take but we will be approaching a period of French dominance if they can eventually get it right.

Shock exit: Expectations will be higher for COLOMBIA after a stunning FIFA World Cup campaign four years ago and their group is one of the more competitive. PORTUGAL’s time in Russia will end as soon as they reach the knockouts. Both will be seen as underachievements.

Golden Boot: So many options! Having said that, I fancy someone from Group A with those kind fixtures against Russia and Saudi Arabia providing a good chance for the hat-trick that would take you halfway to the crown. I’ll be brave and go with Uruguay to be the nation with the most goals while MOHAMED SALAH takes the individual prize.

England will… lose in the QUARTER-FINALS. It’s hard not to put on the rose-tinted glasses. We have some outstanding wing-backs, one of the best strikers in the world and some great and in-form attacking support. Tight wins against Panama and Tunisia, coupled with a draw against Belgium, followed by a gritty win against one of Colombia or Poland in the round of 16 takes us to the quarters and Germany. That’s when I throw my glasses away.

Random predictions: Iran will only concede two goals but still go out at the group stages. Harry Kane will score a hat-trick while Harry Maguire will be an unlikely goalscorer. Lionel Messi will speak out against the AFA when Argentina are knocked out.

Germany are much-fancied to defend their title with strength in depth a particular asset.

Alistair Hunter, Senior Editor

Winners: BRAZIL are the perfect combination of gritty between the lines and irresistible going forward.

Runner-up: SPAIN are back to their best but come up just shy of a fourth title in ten years.

Shock exit: It pains me to say it as a massive fan of Lionel Messi but I see ARGENTINA going out at the group stages. Group D is deceptively tricky and there is a clear imbalance to Jorge Sampaoli’s squad. A fast start is needed to keep the immense pressure of their supporters’ expectations from getting to them.

Golden Boot: A relatively straightforward group and a deep run to the latter stages gives NEYMAR JR the best chance.

England will… reach the QUARTER-FINALS. Victory over Tunisia will lift their spirits enough to also cruise past Panama but defeat to Belgium leaves them second in Group G. They scrape by Colombia in the round of 16 causing a surge of excitement back home before Southgate’s men are outclassed (but hardly embarrassed) by the almighty Germans.

Random predictions: Lacking experience, training and guidance, FIFA World Cup officials struggle to properly implement VAR, which leads to several high-profile mistakes and widespread protestations over the use of the technology at future tournaments. Meanwhile Group C tops the goalscoring charts. 

Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) will be in use at the FIFA World Cup for the very first time. But will it help or hinder?

James Tildesley, Head of New Business

Winners: GERMANY, as I really don’t see a weak area of their game and they have such depth to their squad. Couple that with a manager who knows how to win and I can’t see past them.

Runner-up: I like the look of Spain and Brazil but I think FRANCE will be the ones who eventually lose out to the Germans. Again, this is a team with a phenomenally good squad which appears to have less of the types of personalities that derailed them so spectacularly in 2010.

Shock exit: PORTUGAL have a difficult group and I felt they really flattered to deceive at UEFA EURO 2016. There will be plenty who say they won it on merit and I would tend to agree but I also feel there was an absence of any real opposition.

Golden Boot: I have money on TIMO WERNER so failure is not an option.

England will… get done 2-0 in the ROUND OF 16. I don’t see us doing much better than scraping out of our group but it’s also difficult for me to picture anything other than a spectacular disappointment in which we lose to Tunisia and Belgium and draw with Panama.

Random predictions: Mohamed Salah will overcome his shoulder injury to score six in Group A as he pulls himself into contention for the Golden Boot (I have money on him as well!). 

Egypt’s undoubted talisman, Mohamed Salah, will lead the line in a group of Uruguay, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Brett Sinclair, Warehouse Manager

Winners: BELGIUM have an all-round top quality squad with plenty of experience. They just need to work well together in a way that they have not before. Let’s see what Roberto Martinez can do.

Runner-up: ENGLAND. I must say that I think we are going in to the FIFA World Cup with a young squad that will have a lot to prove. Let’s wait and see what they can do.

Shock exit: There seems to be a lot of hype surrounding SPAIN this year but I think they get frustrated too easily. They may be on the end of a few red cards which could spell trouble in the group stages.

Golden Boot: As long as ANTOINE GRIEZMANN is on the pitch, I would always expect to see big things coming from him. The French squad has tons of talent and they should be able to make it easy for him.

England will… make it to the FINAL, as I stated earlier.

Random predictions: My very random prediction is that we will see a very high number of cards. I also think that VAR will not be used nearly as much as it should.

Is it time for Belgium’s golden generation to come good?