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The alternative Panini stickers created by football mad Wales fan

27 Sep 2022 3 minute read
James McCarthy’s brilliant alternative World Cup stickers

As you might now be aware, Wales are off to the World Cup for the first time in 64 years.

It’s a time of huge excitement for any Welsh football fan given the tournament actually kicks off in around eight weeks.

For one Welsh fan inspired by this momentous achievement, it’s meant him picking up a pencil for the first time in forever to try and create his own celebratory art.

James McCarthy’s eye-catching caricatures of Wales players including Gareth Bale, Wayne Hennesey, Sorba Thomas, Kieffer Moore and Connor Roberts, which are available to buy in a range of designs, caused a stir when he posted them on social media after persuasion from his girlfriend.

“I didn’t know wether to post them or not, but the girlfriend encouraged me to do it and I’m glad I did,” says James, who works as a features copy editor for an English language newspaper in Beijing. “They take a me bit of time to do, but maybe I’ll have a crack at a few more of the squad and see where it goes.

James McCarthy’s alternative Panini stickers

There is also an element of great poignancy to James’ World Cup artwork – which keeps him close to his homeland, despite living in China.

“Sadly, I lost my dad in April, about a week after we watched the World Cup group draw together over Skype,” he recalls. “It was unexpected, and it has been very emotional to watch Wales make it for the first time since he was a kid.

“Working in China, it’s very difficult to get back home to visit family.”

The Band – one of James McCarthy’s designs
Gareth Bale in LAFC kit (Credit: James McCarthy)

The irony is that James, a Swansea City fan, spent a decade running luxury lifestyle magazines in Qatar, but unfortunately will not be making a return to the country for the World Cup.

“Sadly, I will not be going to Qatar, as much as I would love to,” says the 46-year-old. “The cost of flights from here, and uncertainty regarding getting back to work makes it a bit prohibitive.”

Although in a lovely gesture one of his friends has arranged something special for James and his family.

“I have friends who are going, some of whom I met when we were working in Qatar,” he says. “My dad’s old footy shirt is making the trip with one of them, so he will get to experience it in spirit.”

James wearing one of his t-shirts

And will James be taking the plunge and collecting the highly anticipated Panini World Cup stickers?

“I don’t think they’ll be easy to get in Beijing,” he says. “My brother has point blank refused to get involved and be a proxy collector. He makes a valid point that, as a man in his 50s, trying to find people in his neighbourhood to swap with of an appropriate age might be difficult.

“I do wish all the actual collectors out there the best of luck, though. It’s a tough task as many of us can attest from our younger years. Though, I’ll happily take a spare Wales ‘shiny’ if anyone has one going!”

To purchase James’ designs visit his online shop HERE

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