Boots from the first World Cup in 1930. / ÑITO SALAS

From Maradona's shirt to a pair of two-kilo football boots worn at the 1930 World Cup

El Corte Inglés in Malaga is currently hosting an exhibition by collector Antonio de la Rosa with a journey through football's biggest legends

CRISTINA PINTO MALAGA.

As the 2022 Qatar World Cup kicked off -which will go down in history for the controversy that surrounds it- Malaga wanted to celebrate the occasion in the most romantic way possible: by remembering the legends and feats that have marked the world's most-watched sporting event.

This tribute comes thanks to El Corte Inglés' department store in the city centre and the De la Rosa Football Collection with an exhibition titled 10 legends in the history of the World Cup, which can be visited until 5 January.

It's made up of match shirts, balls and boots from collector Antonio de la Rosa that take us through the history of the World Cup: from boots from the first tournament in 1930, which weigh two kilos, to more recent ones worn by Antoine Griezmann when he won the 2018 World Cup with France, which weigh less than 100 grams. Or from a Pelé shirt from 4 October 1970 to a Casillas one from 12 November 2005.

What's most striking when you enter the main hall are the footballs and boots resting in display cases, which are more impressive when you see them up close. From the first ever World Cup in Uruguay (1930) and through the following 22 tournaments all the way to the ongoing one in Qatar. "This is so you can see how sporting equipment has evolved... From two-kilo boots to others that don't even weigh 100g, what they did a hundred years ago has nothing to do with what is done now," said collector Antonio de la Rosa as he walked around the exhibit.

In the area where the boots and balls are displayed there is a special pair worn by David Villa, who Spaniards will fondly remember well from their 2010 South Africa World Cup winning run.

That's the first part of what's displayed, the next one being a homage to ten historic footballing names. Shirts worn by the greatest players, such as Pelé, Diego Armando Maragona, Iker Casillas, Lotthat Mattahaüs, Franz Beckenbauer, Miroslav Klose, Gianluigi Buffon, Zinedine Zidane, Mané Garrincha and Dider Deschamps. De la Rosa remembered that the hardest one to get hold of was Garrincha's. "It was over two years of working with Brazilian contacts until we got to his daughter and managed to get his shirt. I even have a copy of her ID to verify that it was her dad; that was the hardest one to obtain," he said.

Another one of the anecdotes that De la Rosa remembers was about getting Deschamps'. "It was the one he wore on 19 August 1998, from the first game after winning the World Cup with France and you can see that it doesn't have the winner's star on it," he revealed.

They are shirts with a lot of history behind them: Pele's three World Cups, Klose as the competition's highest goalscorer, Matthaüs with the most games played... De la Rosa said it himself: "They are legends."

Childhood treasures

The fact that Antonio de la Rosa has these football treasures started when he was very young, when he already collected stickers and obtained a ball signed by the one and only Maradona. "I always had my dad running around like a headless chicken," the Jerez local said. "I wake up and go to sleep thinking about football," he admitted.

Now he's published his first book about the sport and continues thinking about expanding his collections, which include sticker albums from 1880 to one from the present day.