To help commemorate the centenary of the Professional footballers’ Association (PFA) and to raise funds for the "One goal, One million" charity, 4 Club & Country have produced a unique set of framed historical shirts depicting each and every winner of the PFA’S "player of the year" award.
The shirts were created to celebrate the centenary of the PFA (Professional Footballers' Association). They are a veritable who's who of English football from the past three-and-a-half decades, from Norman Hunter - the first winner of the PFA award in 1974 - through to Cristiano Ronaldo who won the award in 2007. Each shirt is split in two to show both the club and national colours of each star.
The set was auctioned at the glamorous PFA annual awards dinner in Manchester to raise money for the Manchester Children's Hospital. The property tycoons Patric and James Cassidy have outbid the ex-England boss Sven Goran Eriksson for the most desirable collection of sports memorabilia in the world - 34 shirts signed by many of the greatest names ever to grace English football.
The shirts - one for each of the 34 winners of the Players' Player of the Year Award - attracted hundreds of bids from wealthy collectors at a charity auction in Manchester. The brothers, who made their fortune in building and property development, bagged the shirts for a whopping £50,000, but only after beating off fierce competition from Sven.
The sports-mad brothers - sponsors of the Sky Blues and the Blaze ice-hockey team among others - plan to take the shirts on a world tour to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity.
Patric Cassidy said: "We are very proud to have bought these shirts. They are an absolute one-off collection.
"It was the first time we had seen something with such unique potential to raise the profile of our charities, so we knew we had to do our best to buy them."
Each player has signed a player profile and a beautifully embroidered signature covers the breast of the shirt between the Club and Country crests of the teams each player represented when winning the award. The hand made gold and silver badges have each been mounted on the shirts with spectacular results.
The Cassidy Group made the very first offer for the shirts and fended off rivals for more than 40 minutes, including a 15 minute head-to-head bidding war with Sven.
"Sven wanted the shirts, but he eventually backed down when he realised how determined we were to get them," said Mr Cassidy.
The collection has already been insured for £250,000 - five times what the Cassidy brothers paid for it. In reality it could be worth as much as £1 million as anonymous bidders have offered as much as £50,000 for a single shirt.
The Cassidy brothers aim to take the shirts on a world tour, staging exhibitions in Asia, America and Africa, starting with an oil baron's convention in Dubai.
The money will be donated to the Cassidy Group's chosen charities, including Cure Leukaemia, Acorns Children's Hospice and the company's own community outreach programme.
"Corporate events will pay a lot of money for a globally unique exhibition of shirts like this, so the tour is going to create a lot of revenue for our charities and raise their profile," said Mr Cassidy.
"Footballers love their memorabilia too, so by buying these shirts and supporting their chosen charity we have strengthened our links with the PFA.
"We hope this will encourage the stars to give their time for free to come along to the exhibitions, our other charity events and our community outreach programme. When young people meet their heroes then straight away it makes them want to join our outreach programme and work hard to further themselves."