For decades, little boys have delighted in collecting football cards and stickers - but now there’s a new generation in town!
In Ballymena, one shopkeeper who has witnessed all the highs and lows of such memorabilia, says a remarkable new trend in purchasing has evolved and it’s all thanks to the stunning success enjoyed by Northern Ireland in the Euro-Qualifiers.
Panini have added ‘Norn Iron’ to their popular collection cards for the first time in years and they’ve become a shop counter smash hit.
But it’s not children who are competing for the ultimate collection any more - now it’s a man’s game!
Eugene Diamond says that Panini probably didn’t realise just how popular that the Northern Ireland stickers would be when they were released just last week.
“They flew out of the shop,” says Eugene. “And the amazing thing is the average age of the guys buying them up must be mid-30s!
“It looks as if that age group are having a field day in the run up to the finals in France. The stickers are like a back to the future trip to the last time Northern Ireland reached a major tournament.”
Apparently the same effect has been recorded in Wales where the stickers featuring the national team are selling like hot cakes.
“It seems lots of football fans are anxious to have these stickers as a lasting reminder of some great footballing moments. I’d say a lot of them will never come out of their wrapping,” laughed Eugene.
Meanwhile, it is understood that Panini have been asked to print up more of the stickers to cater for demand.