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Pirlo, Iniesta, Ronaldo: The best of Euro 2012

by Al 25. June 2012 05:18

An Andrea Pirlo masterclass and another painful penalty shootout, and England are heading home early from Euro 2012. You might expect Icons' London HQ to be a sombre place today, but instead of wallowing in England-induced misery, we’re doing our best to look on the bright side...

While Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney may be packing their bags, we are delighted to have three international Icons competing in the semi-finals of Euro 2012. We're all about the world's best players at Icons, and these three are probably the best of the tournament so far.

Andrea Pirlo
“I always believed I was number one and I believe I have demonstrated it again this season,” so said Andrea Pirlo before he had even kicked a ball at the Euros. That self-confidence and class was all too evident for England last night, as his sublime 'Panenka' penalty rolled into the net past a helpless Joe Hart. Pirlo's form in Poland and Ukraine has been superb. As well as his stunning man-of-the-match performance in the quarter-final against England, he contributed two assists and a beautiful goal from a free-kick as Italy qualified from Group C along with Spain. We are delighted to have his signed Italy shirt available for pre-order HERE.

Andrés Iniesta
At Barcelona, a certain Leo Messi tends to grab the headlines, but for Spain at Euro 2012, there can be little doubt that Andrés Iniesta has been the main man. Spain manager Vicente del Bosque has been criticised for flooding his side with midfielders at the expense of an out-and-out striker, but with playmakers of Iniesta's quality at his disposal, who can blame him?! Iniesta has been the crucial difference for La Roja throughout the tournament. He is a player capable of unpicking even the most crowded defences, and was named man-of-the-match in their Group C games against both Italy and Croatia. Buy his signed shirt, boot or photo HERE.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Last but certainly not least is Cristiano Ronaldo. The irrepressible Portuguese has got people thinking he might just win Portugal the trophy on his own. After a superb brace against the Netherlands in Group B and a brilliant headed winner in Portugal’s quarter-final against the Czech Republic, the Portugal skipper finds himself as the tournament’s joint-top scorer with three goals, and faces a mouth-watering semi-final clash against Iniesta’s Spain. Never one to pass up an opportunity to score, Ronaldo has had more shots at Euro 2012 than the entire England squad combined. Get 1/3 off his signed Portugal photo HERE.

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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 #14: Pepe Reina

by Al 11. October 2011 08:01

In his new autobiography, Pepe Reina has lifted the lid on his time at Liverpool. But amid revelations of dressing room bust-ups, broken-down transfers and disillusionment at the ownership of Hicks and Gillett, it is important not to lose sight of the facts. Reina is under contract with Liverpool until 2016, he loves the club, and he is absolutely crucial to its success.

When Rafael Benitez brought Reina to Liverpool from Spanish side Villarreal for £6m in 2005, he hailed him as "the best goalkeeper in Spain". Real Madrid's Iker Casillas may dispute that claim, but since his arrival at Anfield, there is no doubt that Reina has developed into one of the world's best.

Reina is from Madrid, but like so many top Spanish players, he is a product of Barcelona's famed La Masia youth academy. His father, Miguel, also a goalkeeper, played for Barcelona and Atletico Madrid during the 60s and 70s. A young Pepe Reina followed his father's footsteps when he made his La Liga debut for Barca during the 2000-2001 season, but moved to Villarreal the following year in search of first team football. It wasn't long before he caught Benitez's eye.

A Liverpool legend in the making, Reina, now 29, proved an instant success at Anfield, deposing Jerzy Dudek as first choice in a record-breaking debut season. Between October and December of 2005, Reina broke Liverpool's club record with an incredible 11 consecutive clean-sheets. In his first season at Anfield, he kept a total of 20 Premier League clean sheets, and was awarded the Golden Glove. Reina was instrumental in Liverpool's 2006 FA Cup triumph too, living up to his reputation as a penalty-saving specialist with three saves from four West Ham penalties in the shoot-out.

Indeed, Reina had already proved he was no slouch when it came to saving penalties. In his final season at Villarreal, he had saved seven out of nine, and he has continued to perform penalty heroics for Liverpool since the 2006 FA Cup final, notably in the 2007 Champions League semi-final against Chelsea, when he capped an excellent performance over two legs with two penalty saves in the shoot-out.

Liverpool failed to repeat their Istanbul heroics that year as AC Milan exacted a 2-1 revenge in the final, but Reina's individual performance throughout the season drew the plaudits. With 19 Premier League clean sheets, he won the Golden Glove for the second consecutive year, and on 2nd February 2008, in his 92nd league appearance for the Reds, he became the quickest goalkeeper in their history to reach a half century of shut-outs.

Reina has not missed Premier League match since the final game of the 2006/07 season against Charlton, meaning Saturday's game against Manchester United will be his 160th consecutive league appearance. It is a remarkable record, and furthermore, he has kept a total of 109 clean sheets in his 226 Premier League appearances to date. Overall, since joining Liverpool he has kept 146 clean sheets in 317 games.

At international level, Pepe Reina was part of Spain's Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010-winning squads. He has made 22 appearances for La Roja since making his debut in a friendly against Uruguay in 2005, but he is unfortunate that his career has coincided with that of Casillas, Spain's current captain. While he may be second choice for his country, Reina still comes comfortably inside the world's top five goalkeepers.

Reina is as important to Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool as fellow Kop heroes Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, and in the absence of those two, it has been the Spaniard who has taken the captain's armband.

In September, Reina announced that he was happy to stay at Liverpool for another five or six years. If he can uphold the high standards he has set himself since 2005, that could be the best news Liverpool fans hear all year.

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View Icons full range of signed Pepe Reina products here.

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Icons Legend of the Week #4: Cesc Fabregas

by Al 3. August 2011 06:56

In the fourth of our series of Icons Legends, we turn our attention to the man at the centre of the transfer saga of the summer - Arsenal captain and Spain international Cesc Fabregas.

Of all the signings we have conducted here at Icons.com over the years, the friendly and humble 24-year-old remains one of our favourites.

Since he was plucked from Barcelona's youth academy at the age of 16, Fabregas has established himself as the Gunners' heartbeat, and blossomed into of the most gifted midfielders in world football.

But after six trophyless seasons in North London the Catalan-born maestro could be forgiven for having his head turned by his boyhood club. Arsenal - reluctant to let go of their prized possession - are holding out for a bid of £40m, while the all-conquering Barcelona are doing their best to lower that price. With negotiations between the clubs seemingly ongoing, it will all come to a head in the coming weeks.

Fabregas arrived at Arsenal in September 2003, and a month later became the club's youngest ever goal-scorer when he netted in a League Cup tie against Rotherham at 16 years and 177 days.

The following season Fabregas signed his first professional deal with the club and was thrust into the shoes of the injured Arsenal skipper Patrick Vieira. With a calmness on the ball that defied his years, exquisite technique and passing ability, Fabregas made waves in the footballing world.

He became Arsenal's youngest league goal-scorer when he struck against Blackburn Rovers, and followed that up with a goal in a 5-1 victory over Norwegian side Rosenborg which made him the second youngest goal-scorer in Champions League history.

When Patrick Vieira departed for Juventus in 2005, Fabregas was handed the iconic number 4 shirt as Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger elected to put his faith in this exceptional young talent. He did not dissapoint.

His consistently impressive performances did not go unnoticed by Spain coach Luis Aragones either, and when he made his international debut in a friendly against the Ivory Coast in 2006, he became the youngest player to appear for the national team in 70 years. Fabregas has since been ever-present for the current European and World Champions, and it was his pass in extra-time of the 2010 World Cup final against the Netherlands that released Andres Iniesta to score the winning goal.

Arsenal have been unable to claim any silverware since their FA Cup victory in 2005, but the contribution and consistency of Fabregas, captain since 2008, has been remarkable in terms of goals and assists.

Arsenal struggled in his absence due to injury last season, and if Barcelona get their way, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will face the almost impossible task of replacing a player who has come to embody his side.

We at Icons.com will be certain to meet with Cesc for another signing session soon. Whether it be in North London or Catalonia, however, remains to be seen.

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Icons Legend of the Week #1: Iker Casillas

by Finbarr 12. July 2011 10:37

 

If there's one thing in the world guaranteed to make you feel like a deadbeat, it's a quick glance at Iker Casillas' CV. It's hard to believe that the man charged with manning the fort for two of the most attacking sides in the world has only just turned 30.

But when most of us were busy stealing traffic cones and dodging seminars, Casillas was busy playing in the 2000 Champions League Final.

Early in his career, he was considered "too short" to be a top 'keeper and "too error prone" to survive as Real's number one. Eleven years after his début, though, the voices of dissent have been well and truly shushed. 

Throughout his twenties, Casillas has grown in stature, adding a commanding air of authority to his recognised shot-stopping ability and agility. In a golden era for Spanish goalkeeping, he's kept the challenges of Pepe Reina and Victor Valdes at bay to hold on to the number one spot since claiming it from Santiago Canizares (who lost it after dropped a bottle of aftershave on his foot) in 2000.

When erstwhile teammate Raul was in and out of the side, Casillas was awarded the national team captaincy and has led his country through the most successful period of their history. 

He captained Spain to victories at Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 to add to the multitude of honours he won at underage level. 

What's perhaps most impressive, though, is that through the fluctuation of his club side's performance, Casillas has remained a rock: the only constant in the neverending soap opera played out in the Bernebeu.

With Madrid, he has made well over 500 appearances. He has won four La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues. Whilst Barcelona have stolen the plaudits at team level, Casillas has continued to rake in the individual honours. He is widely regarded as the best goalkeeper on the planet and whilst he faces stiff competition from the aforementioned Valdes and Gianluigi Buffon, there are few who would argue against the judgement.

For his consistency and brilliance, Iker Casillas is the first Icons Legend of the Week and we're delighted to offer some cut price Casillas memorabilia in our Summer Sale to mark the occasion. Here's a quick summary of his career:

Real Madrid 

Appearances
572 (614 goals conceded)

Honours
La Liga: 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008
Copa Del Rey: 2011
Supercopa de Espana: 2001, 2003, 2008
UEFA Champions League: 2000, 2002
UEFA Super Cup: 2002
Intercontinental Cup: 2002

Spain

Appearances
121 (71 goals conceded)

Honours
UEFA European Championships: 2008
FIFA World Cup: 2010

Individual Awards

Bravo Award: 2000
Don Balón Breakthrough Award: 2000
UEFA Team of the Year: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament: 2008
FIFA World XI: 2008, 2009, 2010
FIFA / FIFPro World's Best Goalkeeper: 2008, 2009, 2010
FIFA World Cup Golden Glove: 2010
FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 2010

Trivia Corner

As a youngster, Iker Casillas threw his father into a rage after forgetting to post his pools' coupon. Usually, this wouldn't have been a problem, but on the weekend in question, Casillas Snr had predicted the correct scores in all 14 games. The mistake cost the family about £1 million. It's just as well he's gone on to make a few bob himself, isn't it?

The Great Icons Summer Sale 2011: Viva España!

by Finbarr 11. July 2011 11:47

 

Not only is it a great time to be a fan of Spanish football, it's also bloody hard not to be. Having spent the best part of fifty years as perennial bottlers, the national side have established themselves as the best in the world, patenting their thrilling, incomparable brand of tiki-taka, to the delight of all and sundry.

The emergence of La Furia Roja has coincided with the dominance of Barcelona, who many commentators have described as the "greatest team ever." So taken with what they've seen emanating from the Iberian Peninsula, the English media have demanded that the FA do everything in their power to emulate what the Spanish have done at a grassroots level, but whether we'll ever see Englishman grace a field with such elegance is questionable. 

We at Icons have championed the Spanish game and the finest purveyors of it for many years. Given the current zeitgeist for Spanish memorabilia, we thought there would be no better way to kick off The Great Icons Summer Sale by slashing prices on some of our favourite pieces from some of our favourite Spanish or Spanish based players.

There can be little doubting the fact that La Liga plays host to the best players in the world. For the past four seasons, the top three players of the FIFA World Player of the Year either ply or have plied their trade in the Spanish top flight. Last year, the top three were all based in La Liga, a statistic reflected in the inaugural FIFA Ballon d'Or results. 

We're delighted to present discounted goods from many of those featured. We've got some beautiful, signed action photos of 2008's World Player of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo (many going at half price) playing for Real Madrid.

From last year's Ballon D'Or runner up, Andres Iniesta, we've got a signed picture of his thrilling last minute winner for Barcelona against Chelsea in the Champions League a few years back (again, 50% off).

From the 2007 World Player of the Year Kaká, we have a fantastic signed and numbered Real Madrid shirt and signed boots. Alongside Kaká, Sergio 'Kun' Aguero has also established himself as one of the best foreign imports to La Liga and we've got a range of his shirts and goodies to give away at a big discount. 

But the Spanish revolution of the past five years isn't just about individual awards. Lest we forget, this is one of the only sides in history to win successive major international tournaments.

To mark their dominance, we've assembled a range of cut-price merchandise from some of the stars of their all-conquering squad, including a Real Madrid shirt signed by Iker Casillas, an amazing signed photo of Cesc Fabregas lifting the World Cup, signed photos of Xabi Alonso and Pepe Reina in their pomp for both Spain and Liverpool and their erstwhile Merseyside teammate Fernando Torres, also in his Liverpool heyday. 

We'll be running the sale for a number of weeks, with a new theme every seven days. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a Spainophile, then, this is your chance to pick up some great stuff at a fraction of the retail price. 

Spanish legends sign for icons.com

by Dan 4. February 2010 04:46

Last week the icons.com team were in Madrid and were pleased to meet up with Liverpool legend Xabi Alonso and his Real Madrid and Spainish captain Iker Casillas.

Both were on good form and looking forward to their away trip to La Coruna that weekend, as well as the trip to South Africa in the summer where, as joint favourites, Spain have every chance of winning the World Cup.

Xabi Alonso meets icons.com

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New Fernando Torres memorabilia available

by Dan 21. August 2009 12:28

Fernando Torres recently conducted his sixth signing for icons; we are delighted to have a new range of products available.

Fans will be excited to learn we have photos from two of Liverpool's greatest victories last season, showing Fernando's celebrations after scoring against both Real Madrid and Manchester United.

We also have a limited edition of embroidered Euro 2008 Spain shirts. There are currently no more of these shirts available on the market so it is unlikely we will be able to offer this product again in the future.

Check back soon when we will be unveiling a new, very limited edition shirt signed with his special El Nino signature.

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Torres signs again for Icons

by Dan 29. November 2008 11:06

He loved the new images we have of him and we were only too happy to present him with a photo of him scoring the winning goal in Euro 2008 against Germany. We're sure he'll have it on his wall before long – and you can too. Check out our new Torres products; as well as the Euro 2008 goal, there's a great new photo of Fernando after scoring against Everton this season, plus we've reprinted the fantastic image of his first goal for Liverpool. It's a real favourite, and it seems we can't print enough of them.

We've also created a new range of limited edition signed away shirts and signed Champions League shirts. Fernando only signed ten each of these, so they are an extremely rare and collectable item of sports memorabilia.We've also created a new range of limited edition signed away shirts and signed Champions League shirts. Fernando only signed ten each of these, so they are an extremely rare and collectable item of sports memorabilia. If it's a signed Nike boot you want – then we have them too. Take a look now.

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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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