A completed World Cup 2022 Panini sticker album starring Exeter City Academy graduate Ethan Ampadu has travelled over 5,300 miles to find a home in the ECFC Museum.
And it’s all thanks to 8 year old Charlie Smith Olivares who flies the flag for The Grecians in San Diego, California, USA.
Charlie’s Dad, George Smith, takes up the story:
‘I am from Exeter and have been going to games since about 1994. I moved away in about 2001, first to Bristol for university and then to London for work. But I always made sure I got to as many games as possible often with the help of Neil Le Milliere and the Exiles. I played for the Exeter Exiles Sunday League team in London and am a member of the Supporters Trust.
‘In 2013 I moved to San Diego which has made getting to games significantly more difficult! Still, I flew back specially for the Liverpool FA Cup ties and the Blackpool and Coventry Play-Off finals at Wembley. Having iFollow, as well as the odd game on ESPN, has really made a big difference and allowed Charlie to properly get into supporting Exeter.
‘Charlie’s first game in person was away at Leyton Orient in August 2021 and then his first visit to St James Park was the Port Vale game on the last day of our promotion season. We were over this Christmas and managed to see Pompey at home and Bristol Rovers and Oxford away. So some nice results there.
‘Charlie wears one of his many City shirts to school more or less everyday. Since most kids don’t have a family tie to any football (soccer!) team he has managed to cultivate a group of Exeter fans in his classroom! He says most kids in his class now ‘support’ Exeter and he keeps them up to date with the scores every Monday morning’.
‘It took Charlie about 2 months to complete the World Cup album, swapping stickers with classmates at school and other friends. We also went to swap meets here in San Diego where Charlie would almost always be given plenty of extra stickers by the other swappers who were generally much closer in age to his Dad.
‘At first he was just going to donate a spare Ethan Ampadu sticker to the Exeter City Museum but then decided he wanted to donate the whole album so that it would show the top players who Ethan had competed with at the World Cup – Ronaldo, Messi, Kane and Bale etc. He also said it would be great for it to be somewhere safe from his siblings. There are already some sticky tape repairs on certain pages resulting from an incident when his 2 year old brother, Henry, got hold of it’.
Paul Farley, Chair of Exeter City Football Club Museum Trust said “What a fabulous story this is. We are so grateful to Charlie for his donation. It’s a very special item celebrating the first Exeter City Academy graduate to appear in a World Cup Finals and in a Panini Sticker Album”.