Who was behind Soccer Madness?

Soccer Madness produced colorful, glossy catalogs that paid as much detail to art direction as it did to soccer. The Soccer Madness catalogs always felt more like a magazine than a catalog. The pages were glossy, in full color and always contained great action shots. The catalog set itself apart from other catalogs I was receiving at the time in the sense that it had high profile stars wearing Soccer Madness products. John Harkes, Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Tony Meola and Roberto Baggio were just a handful of footballers pitching the Soccer Madness brand.

I always wondered how the Florida based company managed to land such high profile stars to hawk their gear. From what I can gather, the company does not appear to be in existence anymore…or…if they are in existence they’re not doing anything with the soccermadness.com url…aside from redirecting to starstruck.com. How was it that Soccer Madness was able to snap a photo of a young Paulo Maldini wearing a Soccer Madness cap? How were they able to get Marco Van Basten to don a Soccer Madness sweatshirt for a few pics? The biggest soccer catalog, Eurosport, never featured professionals wearing Eurosport branded t-shirts.

A clue from 1993

A Soccer Madness catalog from 1993 provided some clues as to the identity of the spokesman for Soccer Madness.

Hello there. I am the spokesman for Soccer Madness. You’ve probably seen me before on clothing but actually I’m a real person.

As a young man, I mastered the game of soccer and become Europe’s most exciting player. I starred on six European Cup Championship teams and played in 234 full internationals.

Now that my playing days are over, I dedicate myself to conducting private training sessions for many of the top players around the world. Many of these players seek my advice on all aspects of the game including which equipment to buy, and of course they call me at Soccer Madness.

I want to take this time to thank all our customers for your continued patronage. I also want to thank my friends Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Tony Meola, Klaus Augenthaler and John Harkes for helping me with our catalogs. I want to congratulate our women’s World Cup Team for that excellent effort as well.

I hope everyone has a healthy and wonderful year.

Priory of Scion

Alright Robert Langdons…let’s try to crack this bitch…because I’m stumped. So what do we know? The mystery man played in Europe and had quite a lengthy international career. The “234 internationals” bit throws me because I have never heard of a player getting anywhere close to 200 caps. According to Wikipedia, the closet player to the 200 cap milestone is Mohamed Al-Deayea from Saudi Arabia with 181.

The catalogs feature a lot of Italian players. Roberto Baggio and Paulo Maldini are featured in the catalogs…as are Marco Van Basten and Ruud Gullit. While Van Basten and Gullit are Dutch they have ties to Italy from their AC Milan days. The catalogs also had their fair share of Americans. Cobi Jones, John Harkes and Joe-Max Moore all posed for the catalog a time or two.

So where does that leave us? A possible Italian who’s had quite a career and has ties to America? My first guess: Giorgio Chinaglia…the Lazio great and former Cosmos talisman. On paper, Chinaglia looks like a solid guess but I’m just not feeling it for some reason. The tone of the clues doesn’t sound like Giorgio. Giorgio doesn’t strike me a spokesman. Shifty businessman, yes…spokesman, no.

The last piece of the puzzle is the fact that he mentions “our women’s World Cup Team.” The catalog was printed in 1993…the only Women’s World Cup prior to 93 was the tournament from 91 which the US won. What does this mean? The spokesman can’t be American…could he be a naturalized US citizen?

I’d love to learn more about Soccer Madness. Really, I’d like to learn more about the marketing genius that thought some senior citizen skin was the key to selling Lanzera.

So hot.

What do you think? Does this make sense at all or am I reading too much into this. Anyone have any ideas who the spokesman could be? Leave any suggestions in the comments.

9 Responses to “Who was behind Soccer Madness?”

I think he’s got a little captain in him.

Noice! That’s perfect. I totally need to throw a Captain Morgans logo on that.

Loved this catalog, I treasured it more than I should have. It would be like going to Disney World just to go to their actual store. I had a team mate work at the store when I got older. I’m not too sure who ran the place, but the owner’s name apparently is Sam Zighelboim (http://jameshalecreative.blogspot.com/2009/02/soccer-madness.html)

Great site by the way.

I loved Soccer Madness…. That last pic with the old guys looks like that logo they used to have.
The logo was of a short, big nosed, caped, masked soccer player with his foot on the ball. Does anyone have that logo? I wanted that as a tatoo.

Perhaps the most anticipated piece of mail during my high school years 90-94…before there was the internet, we had these catalogs, and it truelly made you appreciate the beauty of the game. I wish I had kept some of them, but I had to share them with my friends and team mates. Silly, but you felt connected to the game just a bit more….great times!

[…] Two years ago I was on a quest to find out who was behind the Soccer Madness catalog. […]

Sam Zighelboim was the owner of Soccer Madness. I’m married to his brother who owns SoccerLocker.com & Soccer Locker of Miami.

Does anyone know where I might be able to find copies of the 93 and 94 catalogs? Back in the day, I used to look at these over and over and over. I’d completely forgotten about them, but once I saw that Cobi/Admiral pic it brought back a whole slew of memories.

Sam was the founder. It was a great idea. Soccer equipment for soccer players by soccer players. Sam was brilliant at picking product. He had a knack for knowing what players wanted. He turned down products from Adidas and Nike regardless of their pressure to offer it. He also knew the good stuff. The catalogs were treasures. We worked with manufactures to actually put their stars in their products and shoot for the catalog. Often we would co brand something special and put the Soccer Madness name on it and the star. Alas, we had investors and we had an offer to buy the company and we sold to pay the investors. The bad part is that they were in way over their head and went bankrupt and killed 18 boutique catalogs- a shame. I think Sam’s brother still operates the best Soccer Store in Miami, Soccer Locker and The Soccer Store in Fort Lauderdale area is run by Mr Avila, our former product manager and a great guy.

It was a great run and now it seems the industry needs some authenticity brought back.

We had a temporary subsidiary in Japan and printed the catalog in Japanese. It was toooo cool. Masa was the owner.

Sam moved on to other things eventhough I wished he continued to advise on product selection.

I went on to develop other catalogs and have since moved on from direct marketing.

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