Football memorabilia unites fans and players alike. Fans want to get as close as possible to their heroes, whilst footballers are no different when they break through into senior football and they seek out the idols - sometimes even at half-time, as Darren Ambrose reveals below - that made them want to become professional in the first place.
And that is why this season’s signed Gold and Junior Gold Membership signed shirt competitions have proved hugely popular already. Most recently, Jaïro Riedewald’s match-worn shirt from the Brighton & Hove Albion game was up for grabs, plus Members had the chance of winning signing-day shirts from Michy Batshuayi, Eberechi Eze and Jack Butland.
The excitement around these competitions from the Members prompted Ambrose to reveal the shirts he collected across his career. You can read about the match-worn shirts the former Palace midfielder holds dear to his heart, and the players he pestered as a youngster to build quite the collection, in the below snippet from his Leeds United matchday programme column.
I’ve seen that the club have been running lots of match-worn shirt competitions this season. And it actually prompted me to get a few of the shirts I have collected from my playing days out of storage – Instagram post incoming!
I tried to collect a lot of No.8s as it was my now-wife’s favourite number – it was mine, too, but now that is seven for obvious reasons.
I ended up getting players like Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney – he was No.8 when he scored that ridiculous volley against Newcastle United (I also scored that day but for some reason that isn’t as widely remembered!).
Getting Freddie Ljungberg’s shirt sticks in the memory because it showed what a classy bloke he was. I asked for his No.8 shirt when we were walking off at half-time, and he agreed. However, he got injured in the second-half and went off.
After the game, I’d got changed and was leaving the dressing room when the kit man stopped me and said Freddie left me his shirt. I had a lot of respect for him for doing that.
I played against France Under-21s and grabbed Mathieu Flamini’s shirt. I’ve got Jay-Jay Okocha’s and Ivan Campo’s from their Bolton days, too.
But the shirt that means the most to me is the one from my Newcastle United debut, which I have framed in my house. I got the team to sign it, but the reason it is special is because it has Sir Bobby Robson’s signature on it – he always signed shirts right at the top, and everyone knew that was his place, so no one ever took it.
As you get older, that desire to grab the big-name shirts wanes and you then have it the other way. I seemed to get a lot of players wanting my shirt during my Championship days at Palace and that meant a lot to me, as I remember being that player.
Make sure to grab your copy of the digital programme before Palace's clash on Saturday!