The switch from the ‘70s to the ‘80s marked an important shift in the world of trading cards, as their subject matter began to point more and more to sport – in particular football, the ultimate sport-trading card pairing – and television. The fortieth anniversary of the Spain World Cup, which Italy won in a memorable match on 11 July 1982, called for an in-depth look at an event that has remained in the public memory also thanks to trading cards that have gained cult status.
That world cup was a sort of football Wunderkammer, a gallery of extraordinary footballers who have remained in the hearts of football fans and many more besides. Impressive on the pitch with the ball at their feet, they were capable of becoming the heroes of an era. Names merging different social and cultural backgrounds, in some cases they became veritable icons. The images on the trading cards telling that World Cup story have become symbolic too and even now it seems impossible to think of the players without harking back to their face printed on a small rectangle of sticky card.
The exhibition goes through the stages in the Italian team’s victory from the qualifying round and their debut at the Balaídos stadium in Vigo. And then the memorable matches against Argentina and Brazil and the splendid goals that took Italy into the final with West Germany at the Santiago Bernabéu. Of that day, everyone remembers Sandro Pertini, with his “They can’t catch us anymore!” exclaimed in the 81st minute of the final in Madrid, King Juan Carlos in the stands, the goals of Marco Tardelli, Rossi and Altobelli, and the thrice-repeated “World Champions!” of commentator Nando Martellini, but also the pipe and joy in the eyes of Enzo Bearzot, the maker of that victory. A party exploded in Italy that was the symbol of a country’s new beginning. A series of enduring images followed, like Zoff’s hands holding up the cup and the game of cards on the flight home.
A section of the exhibition focuses on the most iconic footballers: it was a World Cup of great goalkeepers and creative playmakers, footballers with flair, technical skills and class who brought their stories and visions of the world with them. Lastly, a final section focuses on the cities and stadiums in the Spanish World Cup which, even forty years on, remain something special for football fans.