Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Panini: Espana 82

Of all the Panini World Cup albums, this one will always have a special place in my heart because it was the first one I ever collected as a child. Chances are I got my album as a free giveaway with Shoot! magazine (so many Panini albums were back then), after which the lure of the accompanying green sticker packets became too much for me to bear. So what was Panini’s Espana 82 sticker album like?

Front cover

It was often thought that nothing could beat the image of a football player on the front of a book or magazine to truly encapsulate the exciting nature of the thing. That was certainly the case here and an artist was commissioned to paint just such a player, but to ensure neutrality the he was shown wearing a kit of yellow and red because, let’s face it, no-one in their right mind plays in yellow and red.

Dribbling across the mainland of host nation Spain like a giant, it’s pleasing to observe the English flag featuring among those of all the participating nations rather than the flag of Great Britain which was so often used in lazy fashion by graphic designers for years and years. Aside from the multitude of national identities, the logo and mascot of the 1982 World Cup flanked the left margin below the album’s title, proudly displayed in white on that vivid pine green background.

Page 2 and 3

Turn the front cover and the first thing you see is not the list of world nations translated into six languages or even the page of foils showing the trophy, mascot, logo and poster. Instead, you’re immediately distracted by an insert promoting a competition where you could win a wide range of sporting equipment from Lillywhites. All you had to do was predict the best four teams in the tournament, and a quick glance at my album shows I actually filled in my application form without entering it. Sadly my guesses of Argentina, Brazil, England and West Germany wasn’t ever going to win me anything, so it’s just as well I didn’t waste money on a stamp with that one.

Stadia and Posters

Previous Panini sticker books for major competitions often featured stickers showing the cities where games were being played, but Espana 82 focused squarely on the stadia and provided artistic relief by showcasing the posters commissioned to represent each location. In many ways, these posters were the high point of the album and it’s only a shame we couldn’t get a better view of them on the rather small stickers.

As it is, the posters were beautifully designed by a wide range of artists and each one had a distinctive look that undoubtedly added something to the album if not the competition as a whole. One of the posters has since taken on a special significance for me as in 2007 I visited the museum in Bilbao dedicated to the work of Eduardo Chillida, the Basque sculptor and artist. Having spent the day wandering around the beautiful gardens where much of of his work was on show, I visited the gift shop on my way out and there hanging on the wall was the poster I remembered from my Panini Espana 82 album - Chillida’s design representing Bilbao in the World Cup that year.

Team pages

In common with many of Panini’s early albums (domestic and international), Espana 82 used a two-tier system which seemed a little prejudiced towards those teams seen to be making up the numbers. For the footballing heavyweights of World Cup '82, a two-page spread was provided across which 13 player stickers could be seen accompanying a team picture and silver foil badge. Sadly Panini felt at the time that some teams, such as Cameroon and Kuwait, were only worthy of a single page onto which were crammed 16 players on eight half-and-half stickers (plus badge and team pic). All a little unsatisfactory, but it does at least provide a different page layout for those wanting more variety.

As ever, a welter of useful and occasionally superfluous data was provided on each of the teams including recent match results, player birthdates and places, but if anything it was the player stickers that themselves blurred the distinction between good and not-so-good. Having gone into production well before the tournament started, it must have been the devils own job to include players that would eventually take part in Spain that summer and predictably some failed to materialise (Alvin Martin, I’m looking at you).

For those that were correctly included in the album, much confusion was caused in many a juvenile mind by the number of unfamiliar team shirts displayed on stickers (let alone tracksuits) because kit manufacturers, of course, used the World Cup to launch new kits. This, though, was the price we were willing to pay back then as, if nothing else, we got to see what sort of shirts a team was wearing before the World Cup began.

Back cover

To round off this decent, if unspectacular sticker collection, we were treated to an advert giving Panini collectors the chance to snap up a surely irresistible bit of footy kit. Yes, by sending off a cheque or postal order for £5.99, you too could own a Subbuteo holdall and a Kikari Soccer Trainer!

(What’s that? You don’t know what a Kikari Soccer Trainer is? Oh alright, if you must know, it’s a net that fits round a football on the end of a long piece of elastic so you don’t have to keep chasing after it all day every time you re-enact Terry McDermott hitting a 30-yard-volley. Satisfied now?)


  1. That Kikari Soccer trainer reminds me of the 'training aid' which one chap took onto Dragon's Den ; essentially it was hydraulic arm thingy with a football impailed on the end. Don't think the Dragons were too impressed!

  2. Dear me - that sounds embarrassingly bad, Row Z!

  3. Christian Savill1 January 2013 at 01:06

    A classic. The panini world cup albums were awesome. Sadly, from 1994 the layouts got ugly. 1998 marked the terminal decline with various football associations refusing to let Panini use national team emblems which resulted in heads super imposed on rubbish track suits or plain t shirts. It's a tragedy. Although as a 42 year old chap should probably not get upset by it.

  4. No no, don't feel bad, Christian. These things MATTER!

    Maybe one day in the future, world football will be reconciled with Panini. That would make me happy... :)

  5. This book holds so many memories for me from sticking my many Steve Coppell swaps on top of each other in the book to going to bed in tears on a Sunday night (why it was a Sunday I'll never know) because after sticking in the 50 missing stickers I had sent off for there was still a gap on the Cameroon page (it turns out the only sticker back out of the fifty that I had ripped into tiny pieces still had the sticker on it!). Luckily it was pieced together by the time I woke up next morning.

    It encouraged be to collect Football 81 (with players standing up). Unfortunately I was late to the party and shops stopped stocking the stickers.

    Unfortunately I know not where my sticker books (and there were many) are now.