If you are new to the soccer collecting world you may have seen these two labels and thought to yourself, what is the difference? To answer this there needs to be a mini history lesson. Traditionally soccer cards were adhesives or stickers which is why throughout the 1900s, you will struggle to find many soccer cards. This tradition has carried on with many sticker albums available for various soccer leagues or competitions; usually printed by Panini or Topps. Now days, although stickers are still very popular, cards have become more of the collectors choice, mostly because of their resale potential.
In todays market you will see many cards and stickers available which has created the need to differentiate between the rookies. This differentiation is important because despite there being both rookie cards and rookie stickers, the year they are produced are not necessarily the same. This brings the question of what is a player “true” rookie. For example, a player who has been in the headlines of recent is Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, a player who took the world by storm after his performances with Napoli. His first sticker was produced in the Panini Russian Premier League 2019/20 sticker set. Whereas his first card was produced in the Topps The Road to UEFA Nations League Finals 2022-2023 – Match Attax card set.
This would mean that Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s “true” rookie is the sticker from 2019/20. So, his rookie sticker is from 2019/20 and his rookie card is from 2022/23. This is the ussual trend for true rookies, that being it is normally the sticker that is first – but this is not a rule set in stone. Sometimes the true rookie is a card. For example, Phil Foden’s first card was produced in the Topps English Premier League 2017-2018 – Match Attax, whereas his sticker was produced in the Panini 365 2018/19 set. Thus, Foden’s true rookie is the card.
If you are a collector that is looking for a players real first product (true rookie), it is important to check both the stickers and cards of the player in subject. It is also possible that the rookie card and rookie sticker can be in the same year – to find the true rookie this circumstance, one must see which collection was released first 🙂
In summary, the difference between a rookie sticker and a rookie card is simple, which was the first sticker or card. The key question dedicated collectors must ask is: What is the true rookie?
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Thanks for reading!
Images sourced from – https://www.laststicker.com