The World Cup sticker album from Panini has been one of fascination for kids and adults alike, and has been for at least every four years.

In 1998, on the heels of the World Cup, my dad bought me my first ever World Cup sticker album. Gluing stickers into an album seems elementary, but the excitement one gets when opening a pack and seeing that one card they’ve been missing is hard to duplicate.

The addiction is fun especially when you’re a kid. Your parents go and buy you the packs. You look over what you get and trade the cards you already have. However, when you’re in your 20s or even 30s, mom and dad aren’t buying your packs anymore and you see these 20 and 30-somethings spending money like water on World Cup stickers. I’ve seen people walk out with over 50 packs at one point.

You need 640 stickers to complete this summer’s World Cup album from Panini. However since they are sold in packs of 5-7 (depending on where you live), the amount of duplicates increases everytime you buy more stickers. FIFA TV made a calculation that states in order to have a complete album, you must have buy 4,505 stickers to ensure a complete album. That’s roughly $643 spent on buying packs of stickers!

When the 2014 World Cup Album was released, I rushed out to purchase one. And to my disbelief, I walked up to the counter to ask where they were and the cashier looked at me and said they were sold out.

The United States has clearly caught World Cup sticker fever. There’s no doubt. This year, many stores and people alike are doing sticker trading days where they go to a place with their duplicates in hopes of trading for stickers they need to complete their album.

During my first encounter with a Panini sticker album in 1998, I was still living in Brazil at the time. That year, my entire first grade class had an album. We would brag about getting players the others didn’t have, or we would brag about the “shiny-ees.” During that 1998 school year, we all became professional negotiators. “You want my shiny Brazil crest? Well that will cost you 5 regular stickers.”

We would play games with the duplicates we had. One game, in particular, was where we picked the cards from the other person that we needed, and they would do the same. Then, we would place them faced down on the table and we would hit the table in hopes some of the stickers you picked would flip up. If the stickers flipped, you kept them. If they didn’t… well, you didn’t get them.

It’s safe to say, I was hooked. The following year, I received the 1999 Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A sticker album by Panini. I never completed that album, but it’s one of my favorites, as kids in school would do the same thing we did for the World Cup one for the Brazilian League one.

When I moved to the United States, I was afraid I would never see another Panini sticker album again since soccer wasn’t as big when I moved here. In 2002, I asked my grandmother to send me a World Cup album from Brazil. She did and she also sent over hundreds of packets to go with the book. Again, I never completed that album. The 2006 edition of the World Cup Sticker album is missing from my collection, as I never got a chance to get one. But then in 2010, I was at a Walgreens pharmacy and noticed the 2010 version of the sticker album. I simply had to have it.

Opening those packets in 2010 reminded me of 1998 when my dad and I would go to the newsstands and buy a few packets, and then rush home to open them up in hopes of getting the stickers I needed to complete the collection.

Personally, I love the sticker album hobby. I think it’s an European and South American thing though as most of my American soccer friends here have no idea what they are and always question why a grown man would be so happy to buy stickers for a book. They’ll learn soon enough!

Photo credit: Juan Arango

Articles from our series focused on soccer trading cards and stickers:

• Soccer trading cards: Why it’s time to consider investing in the hobby
• What makes soccer trading cards valuable, and why and how to get them graded
• Collecting Panini’s Euro 2020 stickers is a perfect accompaniment to watching the tournament

Videos: Unboxing of soccer cards and stickers

• 2020/21 Obsidian soccer cards
• 2020/21 Topps Museum Collection: UEFA Champions League
• 2018/19, 2019/20 & 2020/21 Topps Bundesliga stickers
• 2020/21 Panini Prizm Premier League
• Euro 2020 Panini stickers
• Panini Chronicles box break featuring Neymar autograph
• Orbis World Cup 1990: The greatest soccer sticker album of all time