A Panini playing card for a young Cristiano Ronaldo has sold for almost £60,000.
The card was made by the Italian company during the 2002-03 season when the then young star, now 37, made his football debut for Sporting Lisbon.
According to MailOnline, the vast majority of cards from his early years were either destroyed or discarded and only around 200 known examples still exist today. Only around 20 of those are in mint condition, making them incredibly valuable.
he spotless card, which features a youthful profile of the footballing legend, sparked excitement among collectors at Goldin auctioneers of New Jersey, US. It sold on Sunday night with a winning bid of £59,000 ($80,000).
Jamie Salt, director of Goldin, said: ‘This card features one of the greatest players of all time in his earliest officially licensed trading card, otherwise known in the industry as a “true rookie card”. It was part of a set exclusively produced in Italy for the Portuguese market only.
‘Not many examples of this card will have survived through the years, with many people throwing away or burning them and even less copies would have survived in mint condition.
‘Only around 200 examples of this card have been graded by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). This card is just one of 22 copies in existence to have been given the Gem Mint 10 by PSA, meaning it is practically flawless.’
Widely considered one of the greatest players of all time, Ronaldo holds the record for most international goals scored and most goals scored in the Premier League.
Cristiano Ronaldo joined Manchester United in 2003 in a £12million deal, before making an £80m switch to Real Madrid which was the most expensive transfer of its time in 2009.