News and press releases

  • Royal Mail
    Football heroes 220 jpeg
    8 May 2013
    Royal Mail special stamps to celebrate 150 years of Association Football go on sale tomorrow
  • Royal Mail is marking the 150th anniversary of the establishing of the rules of Association Football, with a stamp issue celebrating 11 of the greatest football heroes from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales
  • From tomorrow, the stamps are available online at, by phone on 08457 641 641, and in 9000 Post Offices across the UK
  • The issue also celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Football Association and the 140th anniversary of the Scottish Football Association
  • The stamps feature the 11 heroes in their home nation strip – John Barnes (England); Gordon Banks (England); George Best (Northern Ireland); John Charles (Wales); Bobby Charlton (England); Jimmy Greaves (England); Kevin Keegan (England); Denis Law (Scotland); Dave Mackay (Scotland); Bobby Moore (England); Bryan Robson (England)
  • Royal Mail is creating a special postmark in the birthplace of the players for stamped mail, with John Barnes special postmark appearing in Watford
  • Seven players who featured on the stamps took part in a media event at Wembley to officially launch the stamps

Seven of the biggest names in British football history, were present at the iconic home of football, Wembley Stadium, yesterday, to officially launch Royal Mail’s Football Heroes Special Stamps which go on sale today, 9 May 2013. The stamps celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishing of the rules of Association Football, and the also coincides with the 140th anniversary year of the Scottish Football Association. 

The 11 1st Class stamps will feature individual footballers from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, all of whom were supremely gifted, talented players who stood out in their generation and beyond. The stamps have been illustrated by artist Andrew Kinsman, who took existing photography of all the players, then created a composite artwork, so when the 11 stamps are placed together, they form a traditional team shot. 

Royal Mail is also creating unique postmarks in the birthplace of each player. John Barnes, who was born in Jamaica, will have a special postmark in Watford. All stamped mail sent to, for example, Aberdeen, will have a special postmark stating ‘Football Heroes stamps celebrating 150 years of Association Football’ and the name of the player, in this case Denis Law. 

The eleven players selected were chosen for their outstanding record on the pitch and representation of their home countries. All are in the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame. 

In goal was a man many consider to be the greatest ‘keeper to ever play for England, Gordon Banks, with the legendary English World Cup winning captain Bobby Moore, possibly the finest Welsh player of all time John Charles, and Scottish legend, Dave Mackay making up an impressive back three. 

English ‘Captain Marvel’, Bryan Robson takes his central midfield berth alongside Bobby Charlton, recognised as one of the greatest English footballers of all time and Kevin Keegan, twice named European Footballer of the Year. 

Leading the line in this adventurous formation sees the wide positions occupied by the graceful English winger, John Barnes and the Northern Irish genius, George Best. Both players supply a striking duo of England’s Jimmy Greaves, one of the most instinctively gifted footballers in the history of the game, and Denis Law, the Scottish Football Association’s outstanding player of the previous 50 years. 

Alex Horne, FA General Secretary said: “The Royal Mail has done a fantastic job with producing this stunning collection of stamps, and the artwork by Andrew Kinsman is particularly striking. I am sure it will serve as a permanent reminder of The FA’s 150th year and stand as a lasting tribute to the great players featured.”
Andrew Hammond, Managing Director, Stamps and Collectibles at Royal Mail, said: “Across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, we’ve been lucky enough to witness some of the finest footballers to ever play the beautiful game. 

“The UK has given the world some of the greatest sports and football is rightly celebrated as a national obsession. The stamps celebrate heroes of the beautiful game who excelled on the pitch at club and national level, and are rightly considered icons of the sport. We feel there is no more fitting tribute to the Game’s 150th anniversary than this collection of football heroes on stamps.” 

Fans can purchase the stamps from today at, by phone on 08457 641 641, and in 9000 Post Offices across the UK.

Natasha Ayivor
Royal Mail Press Office
100 Victoria Embankment
London EC4Y 0HQ
Tel: 020 7449 8250
Mobile: 07436 280002

Notes to Editors
For almost 50 years, Royal Mail’s Special Stamp programme has commemorated and celebrated events and anniversaries pertinent to UK heritage and life. Today, there are an estimated 2.5 million stamp collectors and gifters in the UK and millions worldwide.
Stamps and stamp products are available at all Post Office Branches, online at and from Royal Mail Tallents House (tel. 08457 641 641), 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB.
About The FA - supporting football since 1863
The FA is the not-for-profit, governing body of football in England. It grows participation, promotes diversity and regulates the sport for everyone to enjoy.
Seven million players of all ages, 400,000 volunteers, 300,000 coaches and 27,000 qualified referees help The FA keep the grassroots game going.
The FA runs 24 England teams, across men’s, women’s, youth and disability football, utilising the world-class facilities of Wembley Stadium and St. George’s Park.
Football is the nation’s favourite game. The FA aims to grow it further in 2013.
To find out more about events in The Football Association’s 150th year, and to get involved in football, visit and follow @FA on Twitter


  1. Gordon Banks: Made possibly the greatest save of all time from Pele during the 1970 World Cup Finals
  2. Bobby Moore: Captained England to its historic 1966 World Cup win
  3. Dave Mackay: Described by George Best as his hardest and bravest opponent
  4. John Charles: Dubbed ‘Il Gigante Buono’, which means Gentle Giant, during his hugely successful spell in Italy with Juventus
  5. Bryan Robson: Voted Manchester United’s greatest ever player in a 2011 poll of former Manchester United stars throughout the eras
  6. Denis Law: Voted the outstanding Scottish player of the previous 50 years by the Scottish Football Association in 2003
  7. Bobby Charlton: A survivor of the 1958 Munich disaster in which eight of his teammates lost their lives, he went on to lift the European Cup for Manchester United ten years later, in 1968,
  8. John Barnes: Scored a goal against Brazil in the Maracana Stadium, Rio, that is often described as the finest English goal of all time
  9. George Best: Recognised as the most naturally gifted footballer Northern Ireland has ever produced
  10. Jimmy Greaves: Played 57 times for England scoring an incredible 44 goals
  11. Kevin Keegan: Part of a Liverpool team that won a hatful of trophies including the club’s first European Cup, he was twice named European Footballer of the Year


Gordon Banks – England
Unquestionably the finest goalkeeper to have played for his country, Yorkshireman Gordon Banks was a supremely reliable and effective presence behind the England defence for almost ten years, including throughout the successful 1966 World Cup campaign.

His concentration, awareness and positioning ensured he kept the need to make spectacular diving saves to a minimum, but when he had to be, Banks was also a wonderfully athletic and instinctive shot-stopper. A truly astonishing save from the Brazilian striker Pelé during the 1970 World Cup Finals has gone down in sporting folklore as the greatest ever made.

A quiet and modest man, Banks was voted Footballer of the Year in 1972, the year before injury forced his premature retirement from the English game.

Bobby Moore – England
With his blond hair, ready and engaging smile, and reassuring air of calm, Bobby Moore would have looked like a hero even if he hadn’t been one of the world’s greatest footballers.

The most composed of defenders, his ability to read the play and put himself in the right place to break up an attack was unsurpassed. With the ball at his feet, usually as a result of an interception made or a tackle precisely and cleanly won, his touch, vision and distribution were such that possession was rarely wasted.

A loyal servant at West Ham United for 16 years, Moore attained idol status at the east London club, while his place in the nation’s affections was cemented for all time when he captained England to World Cup glory in 1966.

Following his death from bowel cancer in 1993, the Booby Moore Fund was set up to help raise money for research and increase awareness of the illness that he died from at the age of 51.

Dave Mackay – Scotland
One of the most influential players of his time, Edinburgh-born Dave Mackay was an immensely strong, determined and notably hard-tackling midfielder whose relentless commitment in driving his side forward on the field became legendary. He was also a skilful and talented footballer, precise passer and regular goal scorer, with a boundless energy and prodigious work-rate.

Bill Nicholson, manager of the Tottenham Hotspur side which won the League Championship and FA Cup double in 1960/61, said the Scot was his greatest-ever signing, George Best described him as his hardest and bravest opponent, while Brian Clough called him the ideal skipper, who brought a swagger to his Derby County side.

Mackay himself went on to enjoy success as a manager, guiding Derby County to League Championship success in 1974/75.

George Best, Northern Ireland
When Bob Bishop, a Manchester United scout based in Northern Ireland, first saw the 15-year-old George Best he told the then United manager Matt Busby: “I think I’ve found you a genius.” His instinct would not let him down.

A darting, sublimely skilful player who could pass, shoot, tackle, head but above all dribble with the sort of insouciant brilliance that manifests itself no more than once in a generation, Best had the looks and charm to match his talent, a combination which meant he lived his life on and off the field under a permanent media spotlight.

While he was to find coping with such extraordinary pressure an ongoing challenge, with the ball at his feet Best was arguably the most naturally gifted footballer the country has ever produced.

Kevin Keegan, England
Energetic, brave, fast, strong, skilful and with a drive to succeed that led the great Liverpool manager Bill Shankly to describe him as a born winner, Kevin Keegan was a vital force in the great Anfield team of the 1970s, forming a potent attacking partnership with John Toshack in a period when the club won seven major trophies.

Always enthusiastic and as quick-witted off the field as he was on the ball, for a time Keegan transcended football, becoming one of the symbolic figures of the decade before moving to Germany and twice being named European Footballer of the Year.

An inspiring motivator, Keegan went on to enjoy considerable success as a manager with both Newcastle United and Fulham before going on to manage England.

Bryan Robson, England
Possibly the most complete midfield player of his generation, Bryan Robson’s apparently inexhaustible stamina and readiness to give everything he had made him a manager’s dream for both club and country.

Fierce but clean in the tackle and a fine distributor in possession, Robson was noted for timing his runs into the opposition penalty area so well that he was often unmarked when he scored. His bravery and commitment sometimes resulted in injury, but his determined example made him a natural leader and captain for both Manchester United and England.

The extent to which he was appreciated by fellow players was revealed by a 2011 poll of former Manchester United stars throughout the eras. He won the most votes to be named the club’s greatest-ever player.

John Barnes, England
Signed by Watford from a local non-league side for the price of a set of kit before moving to Liverpool in 1987, John Barnes has been described by many of his former Liverpool and England teammates as simply the best footballer they ever played alongside.

A sublimely talented and extraordinarily graceful dribbler, Barnes was also strong and quick, a combination of qualities which at times made him almost unplayable. He was also a precise and creative passer and finisher who rarely gave the ball away and was comfortable anywhere in midfield or up front.

Playing for England against Brazil in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã Stadium in June 1984, Barnes dribbled past four defenders and the goalkeeper in scoring a goal of stunning individual brilliance, judged by some to be the finest England goal of all time.

In 1990, John performed the rap section on New Order’s No.1 chart hit, ‘World in Motion’, released as part of England’s World Cup campaign.

Denis Law, Scotland
The prolific Denis Law was nicknamed ‘The King’ by Manchester United supporters during his 13 years at Old Trafford, a tribute as much to the manner in which the Scottish striker carried himself on the field as his phenomenal goal-scoring record.

Outstanding in the air as well as with the ball at his feet, his awareness and speed of movement made him very hard to mark, but the slim frame and impish grin were deceptive: Law’s tackling skills as well as his creativity and passing ability made him as influential in midfield as he was up front.

As effective for his country as he was for his clubs, in 2003 the Scottish Football Association rated Law the outstanding Scottish player of the previous 50 years.

Bobby Charlton, England
Quite possibly the greatest English footballer of all time, Bobby Charlton was an attacking midfielder who played almost all his football for Manchester United and England, setting goal-scoring records for both.

Possessed of a thunderously powerful and accurate long-range shot with either foot, Charlton was a committed, skilful and hard-working presence on the field, with an extraordinary ability to find space and create it for others. Manager Sir Alf Ramsey described him as the lynchpin of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning team, and he was subsequently voted the best player of that competition.

A survivor of the 1958 Munich air disaster in which eight of his teammates lost their lives, Charlton was noted for his sportsmanship throughout his exemplary career.

John Charles, Wales
Judged by many to be not only the finest Welsh footballer of all time but also Britain’s finest all-round player, the tall, strong John Charles was as brilliant and effective a centre-forward as he was a dominant centre-half.

Noted in particular for his heading ability, but possessed of a fine touch and powerful shot, Charles could also play at full-back or in midfield. Dubbed ‘The Gentle Giant’ during a ground-breaking and hugely successful spell with Juventus between 1957 and 1962, Charles refused to resort to deliberately fouling an opponent and was never cautioned, let alone sent off, in his 23-year playing career.

In 1997, 35 years after his last appearance in Italy, Charles was voted the best non-Italian to have played in the country’s top division.

Jimmy Greaves, England
One of the most instinctively gifted goal scorers in the history of the game, Jimmy Greaves played 57 times for England and scored 44 goals, an impressive international ratio that would guarantee him a place in any footballing hall of fame.

Having begun his career and enjoyed huge success at Chelsea, Greaves spent nine years at Tottenham Hotspur, where he scored 266 goals in 379 matches. But the brave, quick and elusive Londoner will be remembered for the manner in which he scored as well as the number of goal-scoring chances he converted.

After retiring from football, he went on to become a popular television pundit