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UK football fans fall in love with Leo Messi

by Dan 5. July 2012 04:45

Icons Press Release: July 2, 2012

UK Football Fans Fall In Love With Leo Messi

Signed Leo Messi products from Icons.com outselling the rest by 4 to 1

FORMER Manchester United Merchandising Director, Edward Freedman, says sales figures for Icons.com’s Leo Messi signed memorabilia prove the Argentinian maestro is now the UK’s best-loved player.

Freedman chairs Icons.com - the most trusted football memorabilia supplier in the game, providing sought-after signed shirts, photos and other products to fans and gift buyers throughout the world.

The former Managing Director of Tottenham Hotspur, hailed by The Economist as “football’s merchandising guru”, says Messi memorabilia now outsells Ronaldo, the next best selling player, by a factor of 4 to 1 and leaves Rooney and Gerrard trailing in his wake.

The Icons Chairman said:

“UK football fans love Spanish football and Messi in particular. He’s the neutral’s favourite with most football lovers now agreeing he is the best in the world, if not the best ever. The UK public has fallen in love with him.”

“Everyone wants to be close to greatness and by owning a signed Messi shirt then you’ve got the world’s very best. When Icons.com says ‘signed by the world’s best’, we mean it.”

Icons also sell its memorabilia in Harrods where the Argentinian legend outsells otherplayers by 5 to 1. Icons.com now sell his shirts to 78 countries around the world.

The company stocks ten Messi products including a signed and framed Barcelona 2011/12 home shirt; a dual signed Barcelona 2011/12 home shirt with Andrés Iniesta; a signed Adidas boot and a selection of signed iconic photographs of the great man in action.

Messi’s range of signed memorabilia outsold Icons range of other products - signed by the likes of Kaka, Robin Van Persie, Luis Saurez, Andres Iniesta and even Diego Maradona - by the bucket load between April 2011 and April 2012.

Freedman added:

“Does this mean UK football fans are getting less tribal and more sophisticated? That remains to be seen. But it does show how strong the Barcelona and Messi brands have become. They are setting new standards for the game and, in turn, reinventing the football memorabilia market.”

You can view and buy Icons’ range of signed products at www.icons.com.

For more information on this product, or Icons.com, or for interviews with Edward Freedman, please contact Ben Lee on blee@hardhat.co.uk or 07961 820 579.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. Sales figures through Icons.com from April 2011 and April 2012:

Player - Team / Nation = Units sold

  • Leo Messi - Barcelona, Argentina = 2021
  • Cristiano Ronald - Real Madrid, Portugal = 496
  • Robin Van Persie - Arsenal, Holland = 481
  • Kaka - AC Milan, Brazil = 477
  • Luis Suarez - Liverpool, Uruguay = 409
  • Andrés Iniesta - Barcelona, Spain = 386
  • Steven Gerrard - Liverpool, England = 365
  • Wayne Rooney - Man Utd, England = 274
  • Diego Maradona - Argentina = 261
  • Fernando Torres - Chelsea, Spain = 254
  • 2. Icons has been in business since 1999. Icons is one of the oldest memorabilia operators in the country, if not the world.
    3. Edward Freedman has over 40 years experience in the retail industry and in the late 80s was Managing Director of Tottenham Hotspur. He then moved to Manchester United and became Managing Director ofManchester United Merchandising from 1992 onwards. Over the next six years he transformed the commercial side of the club's operation and built Manchester United into the biggest brand in world football. He was also a key player in the formation of the Premier League and was hailed by The Economist as "football's merchandising guru".
    4. Icons.com are an international brand and supply to well over 70 countries each year and haverepresentatives in North America and regularly supply customers in Japan, Australia and the Middle East.
    5. Icons.com employs the highest standards in the signed football merchandise industry to assure customers of the authenticity of its products. At each event, photographs document each signature and Icons creates a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) for each item including the date and venue and a picture of the product and the signing image. Each product carries a uniquely coded Icons hologram whose identical twin is added to the COA which is signed by the Icons Managing Director.
    6. Icons were awarded the world's first ever signed football memorabilia license by FIFA in 2010. This summer Icons has been awarded the first ever official license for the UEFA Champions League.
    7. Icons have partnered with Sky Sports’ Revista De La Liga programme for years now. They are also now the official partner of the Abu Dhabi Media Company who own the rights to the Premier League throughout the Middle East.
    8. Icons also run regular promotions with the likes of Sky Sports, The Blizzard, 442 and GuillemBalague.com.
    9. A Spanish version of the Icons website is available for Spanish fans.
    ENDS

    Inside an Icons signing with Eric Cantona

    by Al 13. June 2012 09:15

    Last Monday, 4 June, Icons travelled to Paris for a private and exclusive signing session with Manchester United legend Eric Cantona. Icons have a superb long-standing relationship with Eric, and we were delighted to hold our first signing together since February 2009. Read on to find out more...

    In the five storming seasons that followed his transfer from Leeds to Sir Alex Ferguson's Man Utd in November 1992 (pictured above), the bewilderingly gifted and notoriously temperamental Frenchman fired the Red Devils to four Premier League titles and two FA Cups. Now, as Director of Soccer at the recently revived New York Cosmos, Cantona splits his time between Paris and New York. It was in the French capital that we arranged to meet.

    For the Icons team travelling from London to Paris to conduct the signing, Monday 4 June began with 7am taxis to Kings Cross St Pancras and a packed Eurostar train at 8.20am. Carrying suitcases loaded with shirts, boots and camera equipment, we arrived at Paris' Gare du Nord station and headed straight to the city centre hotel where the signing was to take place.

    Eric wasn't arriving until later that afternoon, so after locating a hotel conference room for the signing, we headed out for a leisurely Parisian lunch. Upon our return to the hotel it was all hands to the deck to ensure the signing went as smoothly as possible. The shirts were unpacked and arranged in piles in preparation to be signed, and pens and cameras were carefully tested as our excitement grew at meeting one of football's greatest personalities.

    Slightly delayed by Paris' notorious traffic, Cantona arrived just before 4pm. The towering Frenchman was friendly and polite, introducing himself as "Eric" with a round of handshakes. After downing an entire bottle of water in one go, he sat down and began siging Man Utd 1996 FA Cup winners shirts and the infamous 1993-94 away shirts, both pictured below.

    Despite the temperamental reputation, Eric was approachable, relaxed and as professional as we expected. While he meticulously added his signature to our replica shirts, conversation - in both English and French - varied from his days in Manchester to his acting career and his thoughts on Euro 2012 and Roland Garros. (Unfortunately we are not permitted to disclose his predictions in our Euro 2012 predictions blog!)

    The session lasted almost two hours, and there was even time for Eric to pay for a round of drinks in the hotel bar. Still starstruck from the signing, we set about packing up the newly-signed shirts and boots and made our way back to London. Even a two-hour delay on the Eurostar couldn't dampen our spirits!

    Eric is pictured here with Nick, one member of the Icons team.

    View the full signed Eric Cantona range HERE and follow Icons on Twitter @icons_football for the latest news on all our signings.

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    Inside an Icons signing with Spurs star Gareth Bale

    by Al 27. January 2012 10:17

    This week at Icons, we held our first exclusive signing session with Tottenham star Gareth Bale. Recently valued at an astonishing £150million by his club, the sensational Welsh winger is one of the hottest properties in football. And in the week he was voted the only British representative in the UEFA.com team of 2011, we are delighted to add the PFA Player of the Year to our prestigious roster of the world’s best players. View our full range of signed Gareth Bale products here, and read on to find out more about our signing together.

    A team of three Icons employees went to meet Gareth on Wednesday January 25. In a van loaded with shirts, boots, photos and cameras, we departed Icons’ North London headquarters at midday. The location for our meeting was a conference room in a hotel in Chigwell, Essex, just a stone’s throw from Spurs’ training ground. It was in this hotel that Gareth first lodged after arriving from Southampton as a 17-year-old back in May 2007. He returns - four-and-a-half years later - as one of the world's best players.

    Gareth was coming directly from training, where he had been preparing with the rest of the squad for Spurs' FA Cup tie against Watford on Friday night. His agent was first to join us at the hotel, and was soon informed via text message that Gareth would be arriving shortly after some routine physio work. He pulled up at 3pm, and after a friendly greeting and a round of handshakes, he sat down to begin the signing process. Gareth began by signing shirts (pictured below), before moving on to boots and finally photos of him in action.

    Personable and relaxed, Gareth was a pleasure to work with. Despite a meteoric rise that has taken him from bit-part squad player to one of the world's elite at the tender age of 22, his feet remain firmly on the ground. Gareth's scintillating performances against then European champions Inter Milan in Spurs' 2010/11 Champions League campaign propelled him onto the world stage, but he is completely unaffected by stardom. Gareth was more than happy to chat all things football throughout the session. He took time and care over every signature, and was patient and professional from start to finish.

    The session lasted just over an hour, and after one last round of photos, Gareth and his agent were on their way. We were left to reflect on a good day's work, and head back to the office to get the products online for our customers.

    Gareth is pictured here with Dan and Nick, two members of the Icons team.

    To view Icons full collection of signed Gareth Bale products, click here

    And for the latest news on all our signings, follow Icons on Twitter @icons_football

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    A Year in Review: Luis Suarez

    by Al 2. December 2011 05:27

    2011 has been a whirlwind for Liverpool's explosive striker Luis Suarez. Following his £22.7m transfer from Dutch champions Ajax in January, Suarez has established himself as one of the most dangerous strikers in the Premier League and a worthy proprietor to Liverpool's iconic no7 shirt. This week we met up with the Uruguayan hotshot in London for our second signing session together. 

    An unspectacular return of 11 goals in 29 appearances for Liverpool in 2011 does not tell the full story for Suarez. Boundless energy and enthusiasm combined with outstanding skill and technique have made him a Kop favourite. The fiery Uruguayan was an instant hit at Anfield, scoring 16 minutes into his debut against Stoke City in February. He has been Liverpool's shining light all year. He further endeared himself to Kopites with his first Merseyside derby goal against Everton in a 2-0 win in October.

    Suarez has never been a character to shy away from the spotlight, and since his move to England he has made for compulsive viewing. Goals continue to arrive sporadically for the Uruguayan, but he has been at the heart of Liverpool's finest moments this year. When the ball is not at his feet, he is usually furiously barking orders at teammates or madly sprinting after lost causes. He has tireless endeavour to match sublime talent, and he has become one of the most entertaining (and controversial) players around.

    While trophies at Liverpool remain a work in progress, Suarez has already tasted glory with Uruguay in 2011 at the Copa America in Argentina. One of the stars of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Suarez was similarly effective this summer in Argentina. He was named Player of the Tournament and scored four goals in total, including a brace in the semi-final against Peru and one in the final against Paraguay. His excellent form at international level continued when he sensationally netted all four of Uruguay's goals as they beat Chile 4-0 in a World Cup qualifier in early November. He now boasts 26 goals in 52 games for Uruguay, and it's surely only a matter of time before the floodgates open at Liverpool too.

    We held our first signing with Luis back in March of this year, and we were delighted to catch up with him for a second time this week. Check out our superb new range of signed products from the Liverpool star.

    The famous no7 shirt

    Brand new Adidas boot

    Trademark goal celebration

    To view the full range click here

    Forward Friday: El Niño, Fernando Torres

    by Al 28. October 2011 08:49

    Chelsea's Fernando Torres is finally putting his nightmare start at Stamford Bridge behind him. The £50m man only managed one goal in 18 appearances for the Blues last term, but a new season has heralded a new start, and with four goals and three assists in nine games so far, Torres returns from suspension against Arsenal this Saturday with restored confidence and a point to prove.

    Torres has looked an altogether different animal this season, prompting manager André Villas-Boas and teammates alike to hail his improved performances and renewed hunger in front of goal. Chelsea boast a formidable glut of striking talent, but if the former Liverpool man can recapture his Anfield form, he will be confident of keeping the likes of Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Daniel Sturridge out of the team.

    The Spaniard took the Premier League by storm after his £21m transfer from Atlético Madrid to Rafa Benitez's Liverpool in 2007. Torres emerged as one of Europe's brightest young talents in the Spanish capital, and after making his debut at the age of 17, 'El Niño' became Atlético's youngest ever club captain two years later. By the time he departed the Vicente Calderón, Torres had hit an impressive 82 goals in 214 appearances.

    It was at Anfield, however, that he truly blossomed. Allying pace and strength with deadly finishing and intelligent movement, Torres surpassed Ruud van Nistelrooy's record for the highest scoring debut season from a foreign import in the Premier League, with 24 goals. He quickly became a Kop favourite and was named in the PFA Team of the Year in successive seasons. 

    It was only after Rafa Benitez's departure from Liverpool in the summer of 2010 that Torres began to consider his future. The side struggled under the stewardship of Roy Hodgson, and when Chelsea came in for him in the 2011 January transfer window, a disillusioned Torres was able to complete an acrimonious transfer away from the club. At £50m, Torres set a new British transfer record and became the fourth most expensive player in history.

    After a difficult start at Chelsea, Torres now looks set to become the focal point of the Blues' attack. The signings of fellow Spaniards Juan Mata - with whom Torres has already combined to devastating effect - and former Barcelona youngster Oriel Romeu have helped him settle in London, and his improved morale has sparked a string of encouraging performances.

    At international level, Torres has scored 27 goals in 89 appearances for Spain, and has featured in every major tournament since Euro 2004. Among his career highlights is his man of the match performance and winning goal in Spain's 1-0 victory in the Euro 2008 final. Torres is, of course, a World Cup winner too, but his involvement for Spain in South Africa was hindered by a lack of fitness after an injury-disrupted 2009/10 season with Liverpool.

    Things are looking up for a resurgent Torres though, and when Chelsea welcome London rivals Arsenal to Stamford Bridge on Saturday, he will be the man charged with breaking the Gunners down. Suddenly, he's looking like someone Chelsea can rely on.

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    Check out our fantastic range of personally signed Torres products here, and to keep up with Icons, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook

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    Icons Legend of the Week #15: Mike Summerbee

    by Al 18. October 2011 10:18

    As Roberto Mancini and his star-studded squad look to usher in a glorious new era for Manchester City, they could do a lot worse than look to Mike Summerbee for inspiration.

    Summerbee, Icons Legend of the Week #15, was the star of the show for City during the late sixties and early seventies, the most successful period in the club's history. In three seasons from 1967-70 Summerbee and City won four trophies under the fabled managerial partnership of Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison. The 1967/68 First Division title was followed by the 1969 FA Cup, and a League Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup double in 1970.

    Some 41 years later, with owner Sheikh Mansour's billions pumping through the club, Manchester City looks an altogether different landscape. A return to their former glories looks a realistic possibility now, and with Summerbee as Club Ambassador, City retain an important link to their glory years.

    Occupying City's right flank, Summerbee combined brilliant wing play and tireless running with a fiery temperament and tough tackling that ensured he was rarely far from the spotlight. His antics often enraged away fans, but he built up a great rapport with the City faithful, and was known for chatting to supporters as he sped up and down the wing during matches. 

    Off the pitch he was George Best's closest friend (pictured together above), and during the swinging sixties the riotous pair were notorious for the extravagant party lifestyle they enjoyed in Manchester. They even started up their own clothing business together, although Best was frank in admitting that the shop's main purpose was to attract female attention.

    Back on the field, while Best was dazzling at Manchester United, Summerbee was busy shaping his own legacy at City, making 357 league appearances between 1965-75, and scoring 47 goals.

    Summerbee was born in Preston in December 1942, and began his professional career at Swindon Town, for whom he made his debut as a 16-year-old in 1959. After over 200 appearances for the Wiltshire club, City manager Joe Mercer forked out £35,000 to take him to Manchester. Summerbee made an instant impact at City, and in his first season he was the only player at the club to start every single match.

    Summerbee's talent was combined with that of Colin Bell and Francis Lee, and together the trio formed the backbone of the most entertaining and successful City side there has ever been. While Summerbee sparkled on the wing, Bell elegantly controlled the middle of the park and Lee banged the goals in up front. City became the team to beat, and Summerbee embodied their exciting and entertaining brand of football.

    Summerbee made his debut for England in 1968 and went on to win eight caps in total, scoring once. He left City in 1975, and in the years that followed the club began a long period of decline. Summerbee - whose son Nicky also played for City during the nineties - is a Manchester City man, and he would love to see the club return to former glories, albeit watching from the stands this time.

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    Forward Friday: The King, Denis Law

    by Al 14. October 2011 07:17

    "The boy's a freak. Never did I see a less likely football prospect - weak, puny and bespectacled."

    - Andy Beattie, Huddersfield Town manager 1952-56

    Beattie's assessment of a 16-year-old Denis Law may have been slightly harsh, but when he first showed up at Huddersfield in 1955 few could have predicted that he would go on to illuminate British football.

    Between 1962 and 1973 Denis Law (pictured right) formed part of Manchester United's 'Holy Trinity' with George Best and Bobby Charlton (left). They were the heartbeat of United's finest ever team. Tenacious, skillful and prolific; with 237 goals in 404 games Law was a true United legend. He remains the second-highest scorer in their history behind Charlton, but the road to Old Trafford was long and winding for the Aberdeen-born striker.

    After four years at Huddersfield Town, Law moved to United's bitter rivals Manchester City for a British record transfer fee of £55,000 in 1960. United manager Matt Busby had previously had a £10,000 offer rejected, while Bill Shankly, Law's manager at Huddersfiled from 1957-59, had also failed in a bid to take him to Liverpool.

    City had only narrowly escaped relegation from the First Division in the season prior to Law's signing, and after a single season at the club, Law, who made his Scotland debut as an 18-year-old in 1958, resolved to move to a more successful club. He signed for Italian side Torino in the summer of 1961. Law failed to settle in Italy, however, as his playing style clashed with the ultra-defensive Italian approach, and in 1962 he finally moved to United for £115,000, breaking the British transfer record once again.

    Law was an instant success at Old Trafford, scoring just seven minutes into his debut against West Bromwich Albion. United were still recovering from the devastating effects of the 1958 Munich air crash, however, and it wasn't until 1963 that he won his first piece of silverware, the FA Cup. Law had scored a hat-trick in the semi-final against his old club Huddersfiled, and he scored again in the final as United upset favourites Leicester City with a 3-1 victory.

    Law top scored with 28 league goals the following season and was named European Footballer of the Year as United secured the First Division title for the first time since Munich. More success was to follow, as United won the league again in 1967 and the European Cup the following year, albeit without the injured Law for the semi-final or final.

    When Matt Busby resigned in 1969, United's strength began to wane. Law continued to be a prolific presence for the Red Devils, but was unable to add any more silverware to his collection and he moved back to City (pictured below) for one final season before retiring in 1974. 

    Law scored 30 times for Scotland in 55 appearances, making him their joint-highest top scorer together with Kenny Dalglish. It is at Old Trafford, however, that he is most treasured. His statue stands on the concourse of Old Trafford's Stretford End, and is a fitting tribute to one of the finest players ever to pull on a Manchester United shirt.

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    Take a look at Icons signed Denis Law Manchester United shirt here.

    Forward Friday: The Baby-Faced Assassin, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

    by Al 7. October 2011 06:44

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived at Manchester United in July 1996 an unknown quantity. In a summer where Newcastle United paid Blackburn Rovers a world record £15m for Alan Shearer, the acquisition of a £1.5m 23-year-old striker from Norway went largely unnoticed.

    It didn't take him long to emerge from the shadows though.

    In fact it only took him a few minutes. Solskjaer bagged his first goal for United six minutes after coming off the bench on his debut against Blackburn. He went on to build a reputation as Sir Alex's "super-sub" for his remarkable ability to score crucial goals late in games after coming off the bench, and in his first season he didn't waste any time in establishing himself as a key member of the first team squad. Capitalizing on Andy Cole's absence through injury, he finished the 1996/97 campaign with 18 Premier League goals, helping United win the title in the last few weeks of the season.

    Nicknamed the "Baby-Faced Assasin" by the British media for his boyish looks and deadly finishing ability, Solskjaer went on to score 126 goals in 366 appearances for the Red Devils over the course of 11 seasons.

    Solskjaer is a legend at Old Trafford, and won the affection of the United faithful not just through his important goals, but through a selfless attitude that always put the team above personal glory. This was highlighted by a defining moment in a match against Newcastle in 1998. With scores level at 1-1, United needed at least a draw to keep pace with Premier League leaders Arsenal in the title race. Newcastle's Rob Lee had broken free of the United defence when Solskjaer, knowing his side simply couldn’t afford to lose, came haring back to commit a professional foul and stop Lee from scoring. Solskjaer knew a red card and a hefty suspension would follow, but made the sacrifice without hesitation to keep their title hopes alive.

    Solskjaer's greatest moment in a Manchester United shirt, however, came in their legendary Champions League final triumph over Bayern Munich in 1999. Typically, this was a match in which Solskjaer only emerged from the bench in the 80th minute. Trailing 1-0 in injury time, Teddy Sheringham equalised before Solskjaer scored the winning goal right at the death to cap a remarkable comeback. David Beckham's corner was flicked to the far post by Sheringham, where Solskjaer stuck out a leg to toe poke the ball into the roof of Oliver Kahn's net. It remains one of the most iconic moments in the club's history, and crowned a famous League, FA Cup and Champions League treble.

    Sir Alex often praised Solskjaer's outstanding ability to study a game from the bench and know exactly how to hurt the opposition when he got his chance. In 1998 he scored four goals in 12 minutes after coming on as a substitute in United's 8-1 victory over Nottingham Forest. He repeated that feat against Everton the following year.

    For the 2000/01 season Solskjaer was paired with Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy as he finally got a chance as a regular starter. He took the opportunity with aplomb, bagging 25 goals in what was his highest-scoring season for the club. Unfortunately Solskjaer's contribution over the seasons that followed began to wane due to a persistent knee injury, and on 27th August 2007 he announced his retirement from playing and joined the United coaching staff.

    Solskjaer, who, with 28, holds the record for the most goals scored for Manchester United as a substitute, is now manager of Norwegian club Molde, where he played before joining United. His success has seen him linked with the managerial position at Blackburn, but at just 38, he might be holding out for something bigger. Successor to Sir Alex? A touch optimistic, perhaps, but if there's one man capable of springing a surprise; it's Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

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    Check out our signed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer products here, including a brilliant photo of THAT Champions League-winning goal.

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    Forward Friday: Sir Geoff Hurst

    by Al 9. September 2011 06:53

    Author of the most celebrated moment in English football history, Sir Geoff Hurst is a national icon.

    As all English football fans will be aware, Hurst's defining moment came in extra-time of the 1966 World Cup final against West Germany. Leading 3-2 thanks to Hurst's famous 'ghost goal', England were on the cusp of making history, and when he broke free of the German defence to blast home his third and England's fourth with the last kick of the game, victory was sealed. The moment was immortalized by Kenneth Wolstenholme's legendary BBC television commentary:

    "And here comes Hurst. He's got… Some people are on the pitch! They think it's all over! It is now, it's four!"

    With that goal, Hurst secured the only hat-trick ever scored in a World Cup final. This from a man who was originally named in Alf Ramsey's squad as back-up to Jimmy Greaves and Roger Hunt. Indeed, Hurst's international debut only came five months before England hosted the World Cup, and while he was already an established favourite at West Ham United, he was a relative unknown at international level.

    The Lancashire-born striker began his club career at West Ham in 1959. He started out as a midfielder but was soon converted by manager Ron Greenwood. In the four seasons that preceded the 1966 World Cup, Hurst scored 67 goals in 145 First Division appearances for the Hammers. He also picked up an FA Cup winners medal in 1964 and won the European Cup Winners' Cup against 1860 Munich the following year.

    Hurst's club form guaranteed him a place in Alf Ramsey's World Cup squad of 22 but, as expected, it was Greaves and Hunt who started in the group games against Mexico, Uruguay and France. Hurst's lucky break came when, during the England's 2-0 victory over France, Greaves required stitches on a badly gashed leg. Hurst was called up in his place for the quarter-final against Argentina, and he made himself a hero when his near post header in the 78th minute secured a 1-0 victory for the hosts.

    Together with Bobby Moore and Martin Peters, Hurst completed a trio of West Ham players in the England line-up, and with Greaves still sidelined, the team maintained its East London spine for the semi-final against Eusebio's Portugal. Again, Hurst played a crucial role, providing the assist for the second of West Ham teammate Moore's brace as England triumphed 2-1.

    As the final approached, news of Greaves' return to fitness broke to the media, who started calling for the prolific Spurs frontman to be reinstated at Hurst's expense. Ramsey's decision to stand by Hurst in the face of growing pressure was a bold one, but one that would be emphatically vindicated.

    It was West Germany who started brightest in the final, with Helmut Haller giving them the lead after 12 minutes. Hurst equalised six minutes later after heading home a smartly-taken free-kick from Bobby Moore, and after Mark Peters gave England the lead with less than 15 minutes to play, only a last minute leveler from Wolfgang Weber prevented an England victory in normal time.

    Hurst's second strike is another unforgettable moment in World Cup history, as his shot in the first half of extra-time crashed off the underside of the bar and was controversially adjudged to have crossed the line. Goal-line technology has since been applied to conclude that the ball had, in fact, not fully crossed the line, but that is a minor detail to England fans. Ramsey's side were on course for victory, and as the final second's ticked away and the elated home crowd began to trickle onto the pitch in celebration, Hurst broke away for his legendary hat-trick goal.

    In an international career that continued until 1972, Hurst scored 24 goals in 49 appearances. For West Ham he scored 252 goals in 499 before seeing out his playing days at Stoke City, West Brom and Seattle Sounders in the US. He was knighted and awarded an MBE for his services to football. But he will forever be associated with that magical day in 1966.  

    Icons Legend of the Week #9: Ian Rush

    by Al 6. September 2011 06:38

    With an incredible 346 goals in 660 appearances, Ian Rush's achievements as a Liverpool striker may well never be matched. A predatory finisher and tireless worker with an uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time, no man has sparked delirium at Anfield with quite the same regularity as Icons Legend of the Week #9.

    With a penchant for scoring crucial goals, Rush spearheaded the Liverpool side that dominated the game during the 1980s. Over the course of 15 seasons at Anfield, Liverpool's all-time record goalscorer won five league titles, five League Cups and three FA Cups, not to mention the greatest club accolade of all, the European Cup. His languid and ungainly demeanor did not initially inspire confidence at Liverpool, but when he made his scoring breakthrough in 1981 he soon proved that looks can be deceptive. Forming a lethal strike partnership with fellow Anfield legend Kenny Dalglish (above, left), Rush netted 30 times in 49 appearances during the 1981/82 season - his first as a first-team regular - propelling the Reds to a league and cup double.

    1982/83 was another double-winning campaign for Liverpool, but it was the following season that would be remembered as Rush's zenith. Liverpool completed a historic treble that season when they famously defeated AS Roma 4-2 on penalties in the European Cup final, with Rush among Liverpool's successful penalty-takers. With a remarkable total of 47 goals in 65 games, the Welshman scooped the European Golden Boot and PFA Player of the Year award. In only his fourth season on Merseyside, Rush's name was already carved into Liverpool folklore.

    But how different his story could have been. Not long after becoming Britain's most expensive teenager when he was signed from Chester City for £300,000 in 1980, Rush - frustrated with a lack of first-team opportunities - confronted Liverpool manager Bob Paisley with a transfer request. Paisley's refusal to sanction the Welshman's proposed move to Crystal Palace would prove one of the best decisions he ever made.

    More success followed, and in 1986 Rush fired the Reds to yet another double which included his first FA Cup win, a 3-1 triumph over Merseyside rivals Everton which saw him put in a goal scoring, man-of-the-match performance. His emphatic scoring record was not going unnoticed across the continent and in July 1986, with a host of top European clubs hovering, Rush signed for Italian giants Juventus for a British record £3m. He spent the first year of his Juventus contract on loan with Liverpool before moving to Italy in 1987. Rush's season in Turin was a difficult one as he managed just seven goals in 29 Serie A appearances, and after failing to settle in his new surroundings, he was welcomed back to Anfield with open arms in the summer of 1988.

    On his return to Merseyside, Rush found himself in competition with new Liverpool strikers John Aldridge and Peter Beardsley. The goals continued to flow at a steady rate for the Welshman though, and he picked up two FA Cups, a League Cup and a First Division title in the eight seasons before his eventual departure from Liverpool in 1996.

    Rush is Wales' record goalscorer with 28 goals from 73 appearances. But despite his excellent return, Wales were never able to qualify for a major tournament during his career, meaning he joins the likes of George Best and Ryan Giggs as a legend who never appeared at the highest level of international football.

    Rush remains one of the most decorated players in Anfield history, and an inspiration to Liverpool supporters young and old. The likes of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll have one hell of a task on their hands if they are to get close to that goal scoring record. 

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    About Icons Memorabilia

    Welcome to the icons blog, we'll be regularly posting here about what's going on with our star signings and what new products have arrived

    We love what we do so we'll also be talking about what's going on in the world of football and sport in general.

    We'd really appreciate your feedback and comments too.

    Cheers - The icons.com team.

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