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Words: Seb White
Images: Amin Musa

I’m on a trading estate in East Manchester, and in front of me is one of the most iconic pieces of merchandising that has ever been created. With its green, white, and red trim, CIAO mascot etched into each seat, and tournament lettering transferred onto the rear corner: the Fiat Panda Italia '90 special edition car is an automobile wonder. A 90s spaceship. The ultimate grail item.

“It’s like the best car boot sale ever,” I yelp excitedly to nobody in particular, wishing that I’d once uncovered a similar scene on one of my many childhood Sunday mornings traipsing around Yeovil Showground instead of the Jethro DVDs, water-damaged Queen LPs, and rusting dumbbells.

Draped all over the car are scarves, towels, and T-shirts. On the floor in front of it are videos, footballs, and books. Next to it is a clothes rack full of football shirts. There is green, red, and white everywhere, and every item features CIAO—the best World Cup mascot there has ever been or ever will be.

Welcome to what can only be described as the most extensive Italia 90 merchandise collection on the planet.“It all goes back to being given the official tournament review video for the Christmas after the tournament,” Doug Bierton tells me after asking him how it all started. “I was five, and I remember watching it over and over and getting brainwashed by a combination of Brian Moore and the synth soundtrack. I’ve still got the original at my mum’s house; she’s good at not throwing things away. I tried playing it again recently, but I’d watched it so much that the tape had burnt out.

“That video is the catalyst for everything. Without it, I don’t get hooked on football as a kid, I don’t get hooked on the retro side of things as I get older, and I certainly don’t start my own business giving me the means to start this collection.”The business that Doug mentions here is one you may well already know—Doug and his mate Matt Dale started Classic Football Shirts from a student bedroom in Manchester in 2006, and have since overseen its growth to become the world leader in vintage football shirts.

Without much further ado, I’m wearing the tracksuit that Republic of Ireland’s midfielder Kevin Sheedy actually wore to go and visit the Pope after the nation’s success in the tournament. It absolutely reeks of that time, a material that you just don’t see anymore, one that you would absolutely not wear near a naked flame if you valued your life. I’ve soon added an Italia 90 scarf around my neck, jumped on a bicycle resplendent with CIAO logos, and started cycling around the car park. The Manchester clouds above are getting darker, but for a moment, pedalling my legs up and down, I am very much the 9-year-old football-mad Seb from that incredible summer in 1990….

The above is an excerpt from "Doug's Got The World In Motion" from MUNDIAL Issue 24. To read the full thing, get your copy of the magazine by clicking here.

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