I worked in McDonald’s after leaving uni – now I make six-figure salary after turning football side hustle into my job

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I worked in McDonald’s after leaving uni – now I make six-figure salary after turning football side hustle into my jobCredit: TikTok @paolo.panini

OLLIE JENKS has come up trumps after turning his love of football nostalgia into a lucrative career selling player cards.

And far from getting his stickers in a twist during the Covid lockdown, he used that extra online time to collect them and become a TikTok phenomenon.

Cards for players like Beckham and Messi fetch four-figure sums

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Cards for players like Beckham and Messi fetch four-figure sumsCredit: TikTok @paolo.panini
Ollie's finds from around the world go back six decades

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Ollie’s finds from around the world go back six decadesCredit: TikTok @paolo.panini

The former University of Surrey media student, 32, has unearthed a David Beckham Rookie card from 1996 worth £7,000 and sold a Grade 10 signed Lionel Messi card for £3,000.

Ollie, from Devon, worked in McDonalds when he had little idea what career to pursue.

But eventually his addiction to footie facts and figures, especially the first decade of this century, took him back to the future – with vintage cards and stickers.

Ollie fronts told card-breaking channel Paolo Panini, whose regular posts include a four-hour live stream on Friday that averages 35,000 viewers .

He told SPORTbible: “We grew quite rapidly over the first six months… in the first year, our sales were around the £300,000 mark.”

And he revealed how his obsession set in at school where he beat all the teachers in the Fantasy Football Leaguers – and turned into a career where he searches for tiny pictures from the past.

Ollie said: “My earliest memory is going to a swap shop at Exeter’s Westpoint Arena for the 1998 Premier League sticker album

“It was a bit of a weird experience as it was in a giant cowshed. The idea of the event was to swap your duplicates for ones you need, but it stank of cow c**p, to be honest.

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“I also fell in love with the story arcs of a player’s ups and downs throughout their career, especially in the ’90s or ’00s, when it felt like anything could happen.”

He finally settled in Dublin, working with foreign students – only for Covid to force him towards new ideas.

He said: “I wanted to combine my love of storytelling and what I knew about ’00s football, so Team Of Our Lives was born – a niche 2000s-based football podcast.”

Most strikingly, Ollie switched from making short football documentaries on YouTube to an even more popular form of social media in 2020.

He said: “I uploaded a few of those vintage pack-opening videos from the podcast to TikTok and it blew up.

“Seeing so many people interested in football nostalgia was huge, and with some of the modern rare cards going for big money, I attempted to make a living out of it.”

Ollie now calls himself a Football Treasure Hunter and explained: “Some of the greatest players such as Pele have football cards that could be worth as much as $1.3million (about £1m).

“So there is real value to be had in finding rare packs that have been sealed for 50 years and potentially finding some footballing history – that’s why I love it so much.”

He reckons the most expensive packs currently for sale are from the 1970 World Cup – with late legends Sir Bobby Charlton, Eusebio and Pele, plus Franz Beckenbauer.

A complete album from that tournament in Mexico recently sold at auction for  more than £2k.





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