It might come as a bit of a surprise. But soccer, the most popular sport in the world, hasn’t historically been big in the trading card market.
Even though soccer cards have been made and manufactured for decades, and some have sold for an impressive price. Soccer cards trail other trading cards in market value by quite a bit.
But that’s not to say there aren’t some rare and expensive soccer cards out there.
And as the soccer trading card market looks set to grow. You can expect to see some big price tags for rare and unusual cards.
If you’re interested in getting started with trading card collecting. Then these options might be slightly out of your price range.
Think, several hundred thousand dollars out of the average price range.
But if you want to learn more about the hobby. Here are some of the rarest, and most valuable soccer cards ever produced.
1958 Alifabolaget Pelé PSA 9
Brazilian soccer legend Pelé is one of the biggest names to ever play the sport, and one of the most famous sports stars of all time.
But when this card was first printed in 1958, Pelé was a relative unknown. Just beginning to make waves on the world stage.
Of course, by the end of the year, Brazil had won the FIFA World Cup, and Pelé had emerged as one of soccer’s brightest talents.
Very few of these old cards are still around, and it’s even rarer to find one in good quality.
A PSA 9 Alifabolaget sold for $900,000 — the most expensive soccer card sale on record.
PSA 8.5s of the same card have also sold for staggering amounts, including one that auctioned for $372,000. Even a PSA 4 Alifabolaget has sold for $66,000.
So, if you happen to stumble across one of these cards, depicting Pelé in his 1958 World Cup kit for Brazil, take very good care of it.
Erling Haaland 2019 Topps Chrome Bundesliga Autographs Superfractor
From one of international sport’s biggest ever superstars, to someone who hasn’t got quite that level of name recognition — yet.
And we’re betting that the person who paid $432,000 for an autographed 1-of-1 Erling Haaland card is hoping the player will reach Pelé levels of fame.
Erling Haaland may be young, but he’s already proven himself to be an exceptional player. Scoring 9 goals in a U20 World Cup game, and a hat trick at his first appearance with Borussia Dortmund.
Although he might not have reached legendary status yet. Haaland seems set to become one of the greatest of all time.
And if he does, this one of a kind card could be worth even more than the staggering amount already paid.
Lionel Messi 2004 Panini Sports Mega Cracks
A record breaker and a legend of the sport, this Lionel Messi rookie card features an iconic image of the player dribbling the ball in his FC Barcelona colors.
A PSA 10 of the card sold at auction for $336,000.
Lionel Messi is considered by many to be one of the greatest players the sport has ever had. And his career at both Barcelona FC and for Argentina has seen him rack up some impressive accomplishments.
His long career has meant there are a wealth of Messi cards out there, but the rare rookie card is the one expected to bring in the big bucks.
Cristiano Ronaldo 2003 Panini Sports Mega Craques
You probably won’t be surprised to see Cristiano Ronaldo among the players with the top-selling soccer cards in the world.
His long and glittering career has seen him amass almost as many accolades as he has Instagram followers — over 360 million follow the star on the photo sharing platform.
It’s no wonder his rookie card sold at auction for over $312,000.
Between them, Pelé, Erling Haaland, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo hold most of the top spots for rare soccer trading cards.
In the case of Pelé, rarity comes from age. First minted in 1958, there are very few of his cards around, and even fewer in good condition.
Messi and Ronaldo rookie cards are also low in number, lending them a greater rarity and a higher price tag.
Top-selling cards depicting Haaland, on the other hand, have been released as a limited edition.
Kylian Mbappé 2018 Panini Prizm World Cup Soccer Gold Prizm
Past the Pelé, Messi, Ronaldo, Haaland block, we come to another young player that’s caused a stir on the soccer card market (and on the pitch).
Kylian Mbappé became the stand-out of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and this card auctioned for $161,000 in 2021.
Several Mbappé 2018 cards have auctioned for high amounts, especially as recent tournaments have shown this player is likely to live up to his early promise.
Diego Maradona 1977 Futbol Discs #11
Diego Maradona is widely regarded to have been one of the greatest players that soccer has ever seen, even if he did have more than a few controversial moments.
The 1977 disc card is considered to be one of his earliest cards, and treated similarly to a rookie card.
One sold in 2021 for $157,200, despite only having a grade of PSA 7.
What Makes A Soccer Card Rare?
The rarest soccer cards are typically rookie cards. A player can only be a rookie for one year, which means there’s a limited number of rookie cards ever printed.
Rookie cards are also typically printed before a star player has made their mark. Again, this leads to a small number.
As well as scarcity, it’s important the cards are in good condition.
For all the Ronaldo rookie cards that might have been made, there are few with a PSA grade above 8.
There are plenty of great soccer cards out there, and you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to get your hands on one.
But if you’re looking for some particularly rare cards of popular players, expect to see prices boom.