FOR football memorabilia, history and immersive 4D experiences head to a new museum in Madrid dedicated to the beautiful game.
Pope Francis wanted it in Rome, and the Emir of Qatar, a massive fan who knows every stat and bit of football trivia, wanted it in Qatar. But ultimately Madrid was chosen to be the ‘world capital of football 365 days of the year’.
The new museum, Legends: The Home of Football, is due to open to the public in the first days of June. However, says owner and director, Marcelo Ordás, “we are currently waiting for the license from the town hall”.
The venue is vast, occupying seven floors and more than 4,000m2 of exhibition space – and it is quite literally at the heart of the city, in Puerta del Sol at the junction of Calle Espoz y Mina and Carrera de San Jerónimo.
Argentinian Marcelo Ordás is the biggest collector of elite club football paraphernalia in the world.
His thirty years of obsessive gathering began with fan boy encounter with Argentinian player Claudio Caniggia at a World Cup match at Italia 90.
‘I managed to get access to the locker room,’ said Ordás in an earlier interview, ‘and Caniggia, who scored the winning goal, gave me his shirt. At that moment I understood that I had part of the history of world football in my hands.’
He was to lay his hands on quite a lot more – around 6000 pieces. The museum exhibition features around 550 original items used on the pitch, from the balls used in the major world championships to the boots and kit of stars including Pelé, Messi, Zidane, Paolo Rossi, Di Stéfano, Iniesta, and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Pride of place goes to a shirt worn by Diego Maradona in the 1986 World Cup.
There’s also the strip worn by Cruyff in 1974, which is considered rather special by those in the know: ‘A month before the 1974 World Cup, the Netherlands team changed sponsorship and started wearing Adidas,’ Ordás told Radio Marca last year.
‘Cruyff, who had a contract with Puma, told the president of the federation he wouldn’t go to the World Cup, and they reached an agreement. That’s why, while his entire team wore the three Adidas stripes, Johan Cruyff played that World Cup with shirt, short and socks bearing only two stripes.’
His own personal favourites, Ordás tells the Olive Press, are shirts. There’s one worn by “Maradona in the final of 1986 that Lothar Mattaus gave us, having swapped shirts with Diego at the end of the match.” There’s a “Bobby Charlton 1966 that Eusebio gave us after exchanging with him in the World Cup semifinal” and “Pele ’70, Cruyff ’74, Beckenbauer ’74, Giussepe Meazza ’34.
- “I would also like to highlight three wonderful pieces of English football: Manchester United ’68 player John Aston’s number 11; Bobby Moore’s number 6, worn in the 1970 match against Czechoslovakia; Kevin Keegan’s number 7, worn in 1981 against Brazil.” And, as an extra, there’s a 1926 piece from Newcastle United player, Thomas McDonald.
Ordás has managed to trace and acquire collectibles from each of the World Cups from 1930 to Qatar 2022 – in fact, from all the football world’s most important competitions including the UEFA Europa League, Champions Leagues, FIFA World Cup, LaLiga and the Copa América.
Governments, clubs and federations as well as a host of star players from Bobby Charlton and Pelé to Ronaldo and Ronaldinho helped the effort to safeguard football history.
Ordás considers it’s just as important to conserve and celebrate items relating to football as to protect Greek columns, Roman walls, and great works of art and literature. He says they’re testament to the greatest human passion (football).
The museum takes visitors on a chronological journey through the history of football in a very modern way, using advanced technology and immersive 4D experiences.
And along with the look-don’t-touch balls, trophies, memorabilia and kit, there’s plenty of opportunity for hands-on (foot-on?) action while playing Virtual Reality games and in the metaverse game area.
On top of all this, there’s a 4D Cinema, a somewhat experimental Football Art room, a top floor restaurant, and – of course – a shop selling official merchandise from many, many clubs.
A grand opening event is scheduled for June 19. “We hope to be able to count on the presence of the representatives of our largest institutions, and partners such as Infantino, Ceferin and Javier Tebas,” says Ordás, “and of course, those who give life to this project . . . the legends”.
Tickets are on sale for June onwards and cost €24. The experience lasts 90 minutes – with no extra time. Children are welcome, but under-14s must be accompanied by an adult.