The 2022 World Cup is just around the corner, as 32 teams prepare to compete for the biggest prize in world football.
World Cup stickers are some of the more popular collectibles within the hobby; so we’ve taken the opportunity to list some of the greatest options of all-time. Of course, Panini is synonymous with the hobby, holding the rights for over 50 years.
Here’s a rundown with 10 of the best World Cup stickers to collect, featuring some of the biggest names from the men’s and women’s game.
The Best World Cup Stickers
World Cup stickers and cards have been around for a while. For example, the UK was first introduced to Panini via its Mexico ‘70 World Cup collection, with a major set released for every tournament thereafter.
We’ve put together a list containing 10 of the best World Cup stickers to invest from the past 50 years.
Some of the biggest names in the sport have made the cut, with stickers that are especially valuable if they happen to be in pristine condition. Look for copies graded by companies like PSA, BGS, or SGC.
10. 2006 Panini World Cup Stickers Ronaldinho #393 (eBay)
When it comes to legends within the world of football, few live up to Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, better known as “Ronaldinho Gaúcho”.
The ultimate flair player, Ronaldinho starred for the likes of Brazil and Barcelona, winning two FIFA World Player of the Year awards, and a Ballon d’Or in 2005.
The 2006 World Cup sticker is his first ever, and is relatively affordable compared to many of the others listed below if you stay away from mint condition graded versions.
9. 1982 Panini Espana World Cup stickers Diego Maradona #176 (eBay)
Diego Maradona was left out of the 1978 World Cup squad by coach Cesar Luis Menotti, so this 1982 release counts as a rookie sticker for the renowned Argentina forward.
This sticker can be found in the 1982 Panini Espana sticker set, and it’s tough to locate versions that have made it to 2022 unscathed. It’s a real piece of history for anyone interested in the best soccer collectibles. Of course, it also comes with a premium price tag, no matter the condition.
8. 2011 Panini Women’s World Cup Stickers Alex Morgan #196 (eBay)
Alex Morgan has been the face of the USWNT for over a decade, scoring 119 goals in 198 games for her national side since 2010. Her sticker from the 2011 World Cup is an RC, and is valued accordingly when looking at pristine versions. A two-time World Cup winner, she earned a gold medal as part of the winning U.S. team at the 2012 London Olympics.
7. 2011 Panini Women’s World Cup Stickers Megan Rapinoe #192 (eBay)
Megan Rapinoe is another big name from the women’s game, winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015 and 2019. She is also en route to the 2023 tournament, which is likely to be her last.
The second sticker from the 2011 Panini Women’s World Cup set to make the list, pristine copies are popular with collectors based in the United States. Rapinoe can be a divisive figure, but she still has a large fan base.
6. 2002 Panini World Cup Sticker Zlatan Ibrahimovich #456 (eBay)
The irrepressible Zlatan Ibrahimović continues to astound pundits coming up to his 41st birthday in October 2022. The legendary Sweden striker has scored over 570 career goals, including more than 500 club goals, and has scored in each of the last four decades.
His 2002 World Cup sticker is his rookie option, while he won’t be at the 2022 tournament as Sweden failed to qualify. In truth, he never managed to set the tournament alight, but continues to commit to the team.
5. 1998 Panini World Cup Stickers Ronaldo #28 (eBay)
The original Ronaldo was a phenomenon, and had to be seen to be believed. Arguably the best pure sticker to grace the game, injuries cut his prime short by a significant period.
R9 received the Golden Ball as the player of the tournament after he helped Brazil reach the final in 1998, winning it outright four years later. He scored twice in the 2002 final and received the Golden Boot as the top goalscorer. At the 2006 World Cup, Ronaldo scored his 15th goal, a record beaten only by Miroslav Klose.
Expect to pay a significant four figure fee to add a pristine copy to your collection.
4. 2006 Panini World Cup Sticker Lionel Messi #185 (eBay)
The magisterial Lionel Messi has an army of fans that would go to war if you were to suggest he was anything other than the GOAT. He’s now settled in at PSG, and 2022 could be his last chance at World Cup glory during his prime.
2006 is where you’ll find his first ever World Cup sticker, when he was still a top prospect at Barcelona. Expect to pay top dollar for graded copies in mint condition.
3. 2018 Panini World Cup Stickers Kylian Mbappe RC #209 (eBay)
Kylian Mbappe’s spot on the list was never in doubt. His rookie sticker from a tournament in which he featured heavily, France were devastatingly effective as he led the line with extreme pace and clinical finishing.
Mbappe’s RCs are found in 2017-18 sets, while this is one of the first to feature him for Les Bleus.
It’s not often that a rookie player makes such a massive impact on the biggest tournament in world football, but the PSG star is clearly the real deal.
2. 1970 Panini Mexico Pele (eBay)
Before Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, there was Pelé.
Arguably the greatest footballer of all-time, Pelé is also the subject of the most valuable soccer card in existence. With the attention paid to his most important cards showing no signs of letting up, it culminated in the $1.3M sale of his RC in February 2022, which is the first time a soccer card has broken the $1M barrier.
You’ll have to head back to 1970 to find this underrated sticker from the Mexico World Cup.
1. 2006 Panini World Cup Sticker Cristiano Ronaldo #298 (eBay)
Along with Lionel Messi, the first Cristiano Ronaldo World Cup sticker can be found in 2006 Panini sets. This is likely to be his final tournament, in spite of his incredible physical prowess which is starting to wane.
As with any legend, expect prices to rise rapidly over the next decade or so. We’d advise to hold onto any RCs in the meantime, especially if you’re looking for long-term investment options that you won’t have to worry about.
World Cup Stickers: Buyers Guide
We’ve put together a brief buyer’s guide to go along with the list of the best World Cup stickers ever seen above.
In terms of more affordable World Cup stickers, there’s no better place to start than the 2022 World Cup collection. Our review notes;
“The Panini Extra sticker subset is where you’ll see the highest values, with a strong selection of rookies and legends on offer.”
Older boxes from the 2018 tournament are still fairly cheap, and can still be found sealed online. As for the 2022 edition, we got our box via eBay, but you should be able to find them in popular retailers, as well as online via options like Amazon, or even directly from Panini.
It depends. Do you think Messi or Ronaldo will finally lead their team to glory in a final swansong, or is it worth looking elsewhere, to the likes of Pedri or Vinicius Jr? A World Cup win would certainly cement the legacy of some of the bigger names to make the list.
World Cup Stickers: Final Thoughts
World Cup stickers are a great place to start for anyone interested in soccer collectibles. In fact, many fans will remember ripping packs in their youth, even if it’s probably better to forget the experience considering how much the best players are now worth.
Regardless, there’s a large market for World Cup memorabilia, and a player’s first sticker is considered to be a rookie of sorts.