With an estimated four billion fans, the beautiful game of soccer (or football), is the most beloved sport in the world. Thanks to classic footballers like Pelé and Diego Maradona, to active players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, soccer cards have become valuable assets. With that said, let’s explore the most expensive soccer cards ever sold.
1. 1958 Alifabolaget Pele Rookie Card #635
Sold in May 2021 for $372,000 by Heritage Auctions
The most expensive soccer card of all time belongs to the most revered footballer on the planet, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, commonly known as Pelé. The Brazilian footballer amassed 77 goals in 92 caps for the Brazilian national team and led them to World Cup titles in 1958, 1962, and 1970. Just as he did for two decades, Pelé’s rookie card issued by Alifabolaget will repeatedly outrival his opponents.
2. 2004 Panini Sports Mega Cracks Messi Rookie Card #71
Sold in June 2021 for $336,000 by Goldin Auctions
Lionel Andrés Messi’s legendary rookie card from 2004-05 Panini Sports Mega Cracks is the most coveted card of the generational talent. The dynamic Argentine footballer is the most inventive player with and without the ball at his feet. Messi’s rookie card holds a PSA population of 376, with only 20 cards (roughly 5%) achieving a PSA 10. As Messi embarks on his journey with Paris Saint-Germain, he will continue his illustrious career at the historic Parc des Princes.
3. 2002-03 Panini Futebol Portugal Mega Craques Cristiano Ronaldo Rookie Card #137
Sold in April 2021 for $230,400 by Goldin Auctions
Along with his skills, scoring prowess, and ability to improve his teammates play, Cristiano Ronaldo is the epitome of a world-class soccer player. Featured as a member of Sporting CP in the Primeira Liga, Ronaldo’s PSA 10 rookie card from 2002-03 Panini Sports Mega Craques is an undeniable masterpiece. PSA’s population records 167 cards, with just 38 (about 22%) of Ronaldo’s rookie cards in Gem Mint condition.
4. 2019-20 Topps Chrome Bundesliga Red Refractors Erling Haaland Rookie Card #72
Sold in August 2021 for $170,400 by Goldin Auctions
Rising in plain sight, the Norwegian-born striker Erling Haaland is on a path to greatness. Since coming off the bench and scoring a hat trick in 35 minutes of action in his Borussia Dortmund debut on January 18, 2020, Haaland has become a household name. Haaland’s 2019-20 Topps Chrome rookie card is deserving of the 4th most expensive soccer card because it highlights soccer’s next generational talent and is tied for the lowest serial-numbered card on the list, limited to 10 copies. As the 21-year-old continues to score at will, the value of his rookie cards is immeasurable.
5. 1977 Futbol Diego Maradona Rookie Card #11
Sold in March 2021 for $157,200 by Goldin Auctions
The sole rookie card from 1977 Futbol of the late Diego Armando Maradona soccer icon is one of the most coveted soccer cards in the hobby. This particular PSA 7 Maradona rookie card is one of the highest-graded copies of the card, with just two cards earning a PSA 8 of a total PSA population of 41. Maradona will always be commemorated as one of the game’s most gifted players, from his craftiness with the ball to his mentality on the pitch.
6. 2018 Panini Prizm World Cup Soccer Kylian Mbappé Gold Prizm Rookie Card #80
Sold in August 2020 for $121,200 by Goldin Auctions
Like Haaland, Kylian Mbappé is destined to be the greatest player ever to play the game. Mbappé’s 2018 Panini Prizm World Cup rookie card is serial-numbered to /10, with a PSA population of just one. As Mbappé repeatedly seeks the back of the net, his PSA 10 Gold Prizm rookie card issued when he led the France national team to capture the 2018 World Cup will remain a big-ticket item among collectors.
7. 2002-03 Panini Futebol Portugal Stickers Cristiano Ronaldo Rookie Card #306
Sold in April 2021 for $98,400 by Goldin Auctions
Cristiano Ronaldo’s second most valuable card emerged from 2002-03 Panini Futebol Portugal Stickers, showcasing a youthful Ronaldo with Sporting CP. Ronaldo’s rookie card from the set embraces a PSA population of 135, with 22 cards (about 16%) receiving a PSA 10. Like Messi, Ronaldo is on the move, though he’ll play on a familiar pitch in Old Trafford with Manchester United, the roots of his illustrious football career.
8. 2014 Panini Prizm Lionel Messi World Cup Green Crystal Prizm #12
Sold in March 2021 for $61,200 by Goldin Auctions
Lionel Messi is arguably the most decorated soccer player in the world and is the definition of a world-class athlete. Making his second appearance in the most expensive soccer cards, Messi’s 2014 Panini Prizm World Cup Green Crystal Prizm card is significant because it illustrates his path to the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals and is serial-numbered to /25. Also of note, PSA’s population of Messi’s Green Crystal Prizm is only two.
9. 2004-05 Mundi Cromo Liga Lionel Messi Rookie Card #617
Sold in April 2021 for $57,600 by Goldin Auctions
Pictured in Barcelona’s home kit, Messi has the ball at his feet for one of his first matches at the iconic Camp Nou. Messi’s PSA 10 rookie card issued from 2004-05 Mundi Cromo Liga is the most valuable card in the set. The PSA population of Messi’s Mundi Cromo Liga card is 627, though only 46 cards (around 7%) merited a PSA 10. While Messi’s 17 year stretch with FC Barcelona has concluded, the reign of one of the all-time greatest players continues with PSG.
10. 2016 Panini Flawless Momentous Ruby Cristiano Ronaldo Patch Auto #M-CR7
Sold in June 2021 for $53,850 by PWCC Marketplace
Wrapping up the most expensive soccer cards is Cristiano Ronaldo’s card from 2016 Panini Flawless. Ronaldo’s Momentous Ruby patch autograph card is the only autographed card on the list. With a serial number limited to /15, Ronaldo’s card will remain challenging for collectors to acquire. As Ronaldo begins his second chapter with Manchester United, football enthusiasts will tune in to see the homecoming of one of the finest players to step on a pitch.