soccer

Top 10 Most Valuable Vintage Soccer Cards Of All Time

From Pele, to Ronaldo, to Messi, Here Are The Most Valuable Soccer Cards

Updated Mar 24, 2024

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Vintage Soccer cards have seen some of the most significant increases in value over the last couple of years.

Since the COVID card craze in 2020, some soccer cards have broken record sales on many rare and one-of-a-kind items.

Vintage soccer cards flew under the radar for years before the pandemic. Since then, many have increased 10-15x in value.

Many vintage soccer cards, primarily graded and high-grade examples, are more challenging to find today at attractive prices.

This article examines the Top 10 Most Valuable Vintage Soccer cards in the hobby and whether we might see the same sort of appreciation moving forward.

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1. 1957 A Americana LTDA Balas Futebol Pele Rookie #11

pele-americana

A 1957 Americana Balas Futebol Pele Rookie, card number 11, is a one-of-a-kind Pele sticker card. On the front, the card features a young Pele on a blue background with the words “2 Pontos” next to Pele’s name.

The back of the card has blue text written in Portuguese which explains that collectors can accumulate points allowing for a gift of 50 of these stickers. There was also an album for collectors to affix their stickers. I'm sure most kids weren't storing these and were peeling them right into their album!

balas-football-back

The Balas Futebo Pele has one of the highest recorded sales for a vintage soccer card of all time; Goldin Auctions sold a graded SGC 2 copy for $486,000 in February 2022.

The SGC 2 copy of the card is considered the hobby's highest-graded example and is the only SGC-graded copy. PSA has graded only two copies.

Given the scarcity of the card, it may be a while before we see another at auction again. Maybe other ungraded examples will surface in the future, but this is a very hard-to-find card.


This card would be known as an XRC by today's standards since Pele has other rookie cards from 1958.

2. 1958 Alifabolaget Pele Rookie #635

pele-alifabolaget

One of Pele's most popular rookie cards is his 1958 Alifabolaget #635 card.

Issued by a Swedish trading card company (Alifabolaget), the 38-card set featured Swedish national players and members from the 1958 FIFA World Cup, in which Brazil defeated Sweden.

The Pele card from the set is considered his rookie card and is a holy grail for soccer fans.

Prices for the card have continued to increase each year and the card is rare in high grades. Only six copies have earned a PSA 9 (Mint) grade.

According to PSA Sales Data, a PSA 9 (Mint) copy sold for $295,000 in 2020 at Goldin Auctions. In 2021, PWCC Marketplace sold a PSA 8 copy for $340,000 (a record sale for any soccer card at the time).

Then, in 2022 (according to ESPN), a sale by Rally Rd sale of a PSA 9 copy eclipsed $1.3 Million, the first million dollar soccer card sold.  However, this was at the peak of the sports card market.

Given the correction in vintage cards prices, I would estimate a PSA 9 value today is closer to between $500K and $750K.

3. 2004 Panini Sports Mega Cracks Lionel Messi Rookie #71

megacracks-messi-71

One vintage modern grail rookie card is the Panini Sports Mega Cracks Lionel Messi rookie card. Messi is a modern-day GOAT in soccer, and this card is an excellent long-term investment.

According to PSA Sales Data
, the highest recorded sale of this card was a PSA 10 (GEM-MT) copy, which sold for $336,000 in June 2021 at Goldin Auctions. 

Back in March of 2019, you could have snagged one of these for around $14K, meaning that the card increased in value by about 25 times!

messi-mega-cracks

Like all other vintage cards, the Messi Mega Cracks has seen a correction in price, with a more recent sale last June at $266K, a decline of 21% from the peak.

Given that only 19 of these have earned a PSA 10 (GEM-MT) grade, it might be a while before we see another PSA 10 copy at auction, but if it does, expect a flurry of bidding activity for this hotly demanded card.

Collectors looking to grab a lower grade copy can do so a lot more affordably - a PSA 6 (EX-MT) copy sells for about $3K and is a solid investment with still a fairly limited supply.

4. 2002-03 Panini Sports Mega Cracks Craques Cristiano Ronaldo Rookie #137

ronald-mega-cracks

Cristiano Ronaldo is considered one of the best soccer players of his era and has had a remarkable career.

He is immensely popular worldwide, and his vintage Mega Craques rookie card is considered his true rookie card and a must-have for soccer fans.

A PSA 10 copy sold for $312,000 at Goldin Auctions in 2021, setting a record for the card's value. Only 38 copies have earned the prestigious PSA 10 grade.

But, as evidenced by some of the 'bubble-like' pricing reached during the pandemic, a more recent sale of the card at Goldin Auctions in 2023 was for only $86K, a drop of 72%!

Still, the same card was auctioned for only $1900 in 2019, leaving the card's owner with a pretty nice profit of 4500% in only four years!

ronaldo mega prices

2002-03 Panini Sports Mega Cracks Craques Cristiano Ronaldo PSA 10 Historical Pricing

Although this card has decreased in value, it's still considered an iconic rookie card for an iconic player.

I do, however, get worried about the seismic increase in the card's value between 2019 and 2023 and would hesitate to commit significant capital to a PSA 10-graded copy.

PSA 6 or PSA 7 copies are a better alternative
. They sell for between $2K and $5K, and there is still a reasonably limited PSA population.

5. 2002 Panini Futebol Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Rookie Stickers #306

ronaldo-rc

Ronaldo's 2002 Panini Sticker Rookie was released in 2002, one year before his Mega Cracks Rookie was released.

It can be often hard to figure out when and what should be a rookie card in the world of soccer, since there is variation among releases across the globe.

I tend to view the Panini Ronaldo sticker as an XRC (or extended rookie card) kind of like the 84-85 Star #101 Michael Jordan (the XRC) and the corresponding 86 Fleer #57 Jordan (the rookie).

According to PSA data, the highest recorded sale for a PSA 10 Panini Ronaldo sticker rookie card was in 2021 for $98K.  A similar BGS 10 copy sold for $120,000.

Only 23 PSA 10-graded copies exist, and the value of this card has increased dramatically over the last ten years. In 2016, a PSA 10 copy was worth only about $1000.

6. 1979 Panini Calclatori Diego Maradona #312

maradona-rc

Diego Maradona is considered to be one of the greatest soccer players of all time, with skills and a creativy on the pitch that left fans in awe. 

Maradona card from the Panini Calciatori set is considered his rookie card and Maradona's first from Panini.

This card is quite rare, with only one graded PSA 10 in circulation. The only confirmed sale of this card fetched $555,960 at Goldin Auctions in 2021.

It remains to be seen whether another PSA 10 of this card will ever emerge.

The good news for collectors is that low grade copies are more attainable. A total of about 350 PSA copies of the Maradona card exist.

As an example, a PSA 3 (VG) copy for example just sold for a little over $500. A smart buy in my opinion.

7. 1958 Americana Futebol Pele Rookie Card

pele-futbol

This Pele card, from the 1958 Americana Futebol set, is considered one of his rarest and most valuable rookie cards.

The card was produced by Americana LTDA in Brazil, the same year that a a 17 year old Pele and the Brazilian national team captured the World Cup.  

Fans could collect and redeem the cards for prizes and most were hand cut and stuck into albums, meaning that few survived.

balas-pele-back

The highest graded copy (a PSA 6.5), sold for $66K at the end of 2023, which feels like a bargain given the scarcity of this card. A total of 17 copies have been graded by PSA.

It remains to be seen if other higher-graded examples of this card surface in the future, making it one to watch closely.

8. 1957 Oliveira & Benassi Balas Equipe Pele XRC #54

pele-rookie-card-54

Another rare Pele card is from the 1957 Olveira Benassi Balas Equipe set.

The card could also be considered an XRC card or known as a sticker XRC.

PSA has only graded one copy, which received a 1.5 grade (Fair) and sold for $182,400 at Goldin Auctions in 2020

Another of these Pele XRC cards may not come up for auction again for a long time.

9. 1977 Futbol Diego Maradona Argentina Juniors Rookie #11

maradona-disc

Diego Maradona, considered one of the greatest soccer players of all time, has one of his most sought-after cards in the 1977 Futbol Juniors disc set. Finding this card in high-grade examples at an affordable price is nearly impossible.

A PSA 7-graded example has fetched prices of $157,000 and $190,000. Only six copies received a PSA 7 grade, and just two were graded higher. It remains to be seen if the PSA 8s of this card will reappear. This card is considered one of Maradona's most coveted rookie cards among collectors.

10. 1958-59 Tupinamba Ltda. Colecao Quigo Pele #109

pele-109-rookie-card

Another highly coveted Pele rookie card comes from the 1958-59 Tupinamba LTDA. Colecao Quigol set.

Only three examples of the Pele rookie card have earned a PSA 8 (NM-MT) grade.

The highest recorded sale of this card was $180,000 in January 2021, showcasing significant appreciation from its previous sale of $33,000 in 2018

Vinnie Rullo

About the author

Vinnie Rullo is a passionate sports fan, with a hardcore loyalty to the Yankees, NY Giants and New York Knicks. An avid sports card collector, Vinnie has also worked a collectibles specialist for one of the bigger online auction houses.

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