Stamps about football

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From the outset, the European Championships yielded a fine crop of souvenir covers, cards and postmarks but it was not until 1980 that the host nation, Italy, released an 80 lire stamp showing a footballer. When Germany hosted the tournament in 1988 a 60+30 pfennig stamp showed two players. Albania regularly issued sets from 1984 onwards, while Bulgaria contributed a set of four in 1988. Things began to look up in 1992 when Sweden released a pair of 2.80 kroner coil stamps.

The 1996 championship was the biggest and most exciting football extravaganza England had ever seen, and Royal Mail rose magnificently to the occasion, with a set of five stamps depicting some of soccer's greatest players of yesteryear.

The golden rule on Royal portraiture precluded the portrayal of any living footballers, although this regulation was bent a little by issuing a prestige booklet whose mixed pane had a central non-postal label depicting George Best. The stamps depicted William Ralph 'Dixie' Dean (1907-80) who scored 18 goals for England in 1927-33, Robert Frederick 'Bobby' Moore (1941-93), England's captain in the 1966 World Cup, Duncan Edwards (1936-58), one of the players killed in the Munich air disaster which robbed Manchester United of the Busby Babes, William Ambrose 'Billy' Wright (1924-94) who captained the national team 90 times and Robert Dennis 'Danny' Blanchflower (1926093), twice Footballer of the Year who led Spurs to spectacular victory in the League and FA Cup double and the European Cup Winners Cup in the early 1960s.

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