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Friday 15 December 2017

Mum's the word: 'I just found John Terry under my bed'

Football trading cards can prove a smart investment for parents who would like their children to grow up kind

Chelsea captain John Terry is eyeing four trophies this season
Chelsea captain John Terry is eyeing four trophies this season

I just found John Terry under my bed. I wasn't a bit surprised. Half the Chelsea squad have been in my home in the past year, not to mention quite a few mid-table players too.

Up until 2014 I didn't use phrases like mid-table. Nor midfielder.

The sudden invasion of Premier League players (see, I even know it's no longer the Premiership) is thanks to Topps, a US gum company that has been producing baseball cards since 1951.

We've all seen these cards in old movies, but I never imagined I'd be falling over them in my own home one day.

Only it's not baseball cards. They're football cards, or Match Attax.

Most parents of primary students will, like me, have found themselves sudden soccer experts thanks to this football card trading craze.

The latest Match Attax collection features 459 cards of Barclay's Premier League teams and their players with ratings for each.

According to a company blurb: "It can serve both as a collectable piece and a trading card game."

fanatical

In 2013 my son's interest was sporadic, but that changed to fanatical the minute he returned to school in September - which, conveniently for Topps, coincides with the start of the Premier League.

Each packet of 10 cards costs €1.49, requiring a whole lot of pocket money to reach the enviable status of a full set of 459 cards including some rare bonus ones.

Kids need to swap duplicates to build their collections, and this is part of the game's attraction.

"Such a money racket," I scoffed, removing another player from behind the sofa.

They can be collecting all year trying to find that coveted Daniel Sturridge, with no guarantees.

As my son spent yet another night filing his cards, I realised his industriousness was accompanied by a constant narrative of player statistics.

My amusement was almost turning to tedium when I had a complete change of heart.

I suddenly realised Match Attax is far more important than I'd given it credit for.

Night after night he re- arranges his collection, taking stock and planning acquisitions.

As well as having a goal and strategy, he's learning patience and the skills of swapping and sharing, memorising and building something of his own.

So while the folks at Topps are laughing all the way to the bank, it seems their money-making cards are teaching my son lessons like cooperation, trading and kindness - the kind of life skills a Premier League salary can't buy.

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